By Brother George
Twenty years ago, I went through an extremely difficult period of my life. I experienced kidney failure at 37 years old and had to begin life-preserving dialysis treatment. My wife and I had five children, and we feared for my life and our future. My family and friends rallied to support us through the ordeal and, after four years of poor health and dialysis treatment, God miraculously intervened and sent my precious sister who offered to donate a kidney to me. The operation was successful, and although caring for the new organ presented some challenges, my life was saved and my wife, children, and I felt a tremendous sense of relief and gratitude.
But relief didn’t last long, because shortly after I recovered from the operation and life seemed to have returned to some sense of normalcy, my beautiful wife suddenly passed away from a brain aneurysm. She was just 34. It was a devastating loss and seemed to make no sense at all, coming so quickly after the wonderful victory of my transplant and improved health. My five children and I wept, and our family and friends wept with us.
Going through kidney failure, dialysis, and the eventual transplant seemed to be a monumental battle that took all my faith and strength. But dealing with the unexpected loss of my dear wife and mother of our children soon after was an entirely different battle, one that I was totally unprepared for. I basically lost it emotionally. I didn’t have the wherewithal to keep it together. I was smashed inside, and it took a long time to recover. How did I cope?
Thankfully, family and friends again rallied to support us, and they did everything they possibly could to help my children and me. Having such a loving and caring support community was tremendously helpful. They knew we were hurting and they ran to the rescue without hesitation. God bless them.
For about six months after my wife’s passing, I just sat still, accepting the comfort and help of family and friends, adapting to the new kidney, and caring for my kids. Despite still battling inside, I felt it was time to get on with life and return to Japan to my job and mission work. (We had gone to my native Australia for the transplant operation.) Getting busy with these activities was a big help in the healing process. But even though I was putting on a brave face, I was still emotionally messed up inside. I wasn’t through the storm yet.
Also, I was still struggling health-wise because my body had not yet adapted to my new kidney and I had to take immuno-suppressive drugs every twelve hours to prevent rejection. I was hospitalized several times for various sicknesses and other ailments I picked up because my immune system was suppressed. Each time I was in danger of losing my new kidney. I battled the fear of what would happen to my children if I lost the kidney and my health deteriorated again, or even worse, I too died. And, of course, I had to parent my children and guide them through their grief and fears as well. It was all too much for me, and I flung myself at the mercy of God on a daily basis.
I continued to receive tremendous sympathy and help from others, but there was only so much that they could do. They couldn’t mend my broken heart. Actually, it seemed to me that no one around me really understood what I was going through. How could they? None of my 40-something-year-old peers were experiencing the loss of their spouse on top of having a life-threatening chronic disease at the same time. This was the part of the battle that I could only fight by myself in my innermost being. I immersed myself in God’s Word. I read strengthening and comforting passages from the Bible and Christian writers. From these I was comforted that my wife was happy and healthy in heaven with our dear Lord and that we would all meet her again one day. I also found assurance that if I put my trust in Him, my inner storm would eventually pass.
While the battle continued, there were quite a few times when I completely lost it emotionally and all I could do was lie down and sob uncontrollably for hours. These were the darkest hours of my life. But this is where God met me in a miraculous way. Each time this happened, I saw a vision in my mind of a hospital bed scene. The patient on the bed was me, and I was in a very serious state. I was surrounded by medical staff who were looking on sympathetically. I had the distinct impression that they represented the Lord, who was the doctor, and His angels, who were the nursing staff. I sensed that they were doing all they could for me but that my “wounds” were so bad that it would take a long time for me to heal and be rehabilitated. But they seemed to be completely at peace concerning me and confident that I would recover completely. I cannot begin to describe how much comfort and strength I received from this recurring vision. Each time, after hours of sobbing from the depths of my soul, I was able to get up and face life again. Somehow, each time, our precious Lord pulled me through.
This period went on for about two years, and then, after a total of seven arduous years of struggle, the sun finally came out. My children and I recovered emotionally, my new kidney settled well in my body, and I met my new wife, who helped pull me out of the gutter. We are very happily married with two beautiful young children.
No matter the depths of our sorrow, our Lord mercifully reaches down to comfort and strengthen us in our most desperate time of need. I know this because I experienced it.
Here are some Bible verses that offer such assurance:
Weeping may stay for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3–4
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4