The following are the words of Scott Anderson
in praise of His God, and our God, for His tender
mercies towards his wife Jennifer and family.
It was five years ago tonight that my dear wife, Jennifer, suffered catastrophic heart failure.
Occurring just three days after the birth of our youngest son, it was a night that I don’t really like to remember and yet a night that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget.
I remember driving down the interstate at 85 mph listening to Jenn’s belabored breathing—an unmistakable, unforgettable, unearthly crackling sound—as fluid filled her lungs with every breath. I remember stealing sidelong glances at her as I drove, the rhythm of the passing streetlights illuminating the face of a 38-year old mother of four boys. Her head against the window, eyes closed, skin clammy, and unbelievably pale.
I remember thinking, “This is not make-believe. This is really happening.” I thought my best friend in all the world was dying.
And she was.
All I knew to do in those moments was to drive. And to pray.
Little did we know what the Lord had planned for us as a result of that frantic drive to the hospital in the middle of the night on October 28, 2009.
Time would teach us the miracles of the ER and the ICU; of technology that can see inside a beating heart; of a skilled surgeon who swore at our bedside after an unsuccessful first surgery, such was his frustration at having failed; of the Echo and the EKG; of multiple medications and low-salt diets; of the bitter disappointment of another 8-hour failed procedure; of Ejection Fractions and PVCs and Holter monitors; of symptom-awareness and Sudden Cardiac Death.
And all the while, time continues its slow plod forward. The older children become teens. The youngest child struggles with Autism. Kids need their mom. Husband needs his wife. Work. School. Church. Home. Bills. Life. Goes. On. And yet, in God’s mysterious providence, the heart condition remains.
Now it’s August 2013 and time for a third, “more invasive” surgery—this time a knife through the chest instead of a straw through a vein. The young rock star from India carefully maps the heart while the Doctor-Who-Swears ablates with high-energy RF waves. I sit in the waiting room alone. And, like that first night-drive to the ER, I sit there praying.
In a shorter time than I might have expected, the cardiologist emerges from the high-tech chamber, gown specked with the bright red blood of my wife:
“We shot the buck right between the eyes.”
Translation? After four years and three significant procedures, the underlying heart problem had finally been isolated and eliminated. Finally, sweet, surgical success. The flood of relief in that moment was nearly overwhelming.
Even so, it took another year—months of tinkering with medications and regular monitoring—before they would declare Jennifer whole again.
And yet here she is, five years since it all began: off her meds and currently holding steady with no degradation. She even enjoys a bit of salt on her food again. Yes, Mom is back. Wife is back. Better than ever, having brought with her the amazing capacity to suffer well, and the deep reservoirs of love and wisdom that only extended hardship can produce.
Thanks be to God.
Specifically, thanks be to God for the mercy of about 158 million heartbeats since that night five years ago. And thanks for a million other ways he has blessed my wife amidst a kind of suffering that is not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in her on That Day (Romans 8:18).
While we do not fully understand all of the Lord’s purposes over the course of these years, we do know—and we take great comfort in—the profound reality that my wife’s heart, whether weak or strong, will beat one more time if the Lord ordains it to be so. Hour by hour. Moment by moment. Each beat a gift of grace from the hand of the Most Kind Father.
To Him be the glory.
~ Scott Anderson
Sovereign Ruler of the skies,
Ever gracious, ever wise,
All my times are in thy hand,
All events at thy command.
Times of sickness, times of health,
Times of penury and wealth;
Times of trial and of grief,
Times of triumph and relief.
O Thou gracious, wise, and just,
In thy hands my life I trust.
Have I something dearer still?
I resign it to thy will.
May I always own thy hand;
Still to the surrender stand;
Know that Thou art God alone;
I and mine are all thy own.
Thee at all times will I bless;
Having Thee I all possess:
How can I bereaved be,
Since I cannot part with Thee?
(John Ryland, 1777)