As most of you know, we spent the week of Thanksgiving in the hospital. The purpose of this post is not to discuss the time at the hospital, but for my story you need to understand a basic timeline of events.
Monday evening we went to the ER in Newton as Anna had severe abdominal pain. They transported us to Wesley in Wichita so that her OB/GYN could look after her. She ended up having laproscopic surgery (where they put a little camera in your abdomen and look around) and had her appendix out around 3AM Tuesday morning. We hoped that it would get better, but she still had a blockage in her intestines, and instead of getting better, she actually got worse. By Thursday the pain meds were not helping anymore. She had to have an NG tube put in to relieve the pressure inside at about 1AM Friday morning. Saturday morning she was able to pass the blockage, and from then on we saw rapid improvement. We were able to leave the hospital early Sunday afternoon.
In and through all of this I was trying my best to be there for Anna, 24/7. Thankfully we had wonderful support, and there was a second bed in the room so I was able to catch some sleep here and there when the pain meds would first kick in and Anna could doze fitfully. However, as I am sure you can imagine, my strength was fading as the week went on. By Thursday, I was completely spent and as Anna's pain intensified that evening, I hit rock bottom. This wasn't rock bottom like I needed to catch my breath, or get my second wind. This was something I had never experienced before. I simply had nothing left to give. Anna was screaming in pain and staring into my eyes and I had nothing left to give to her. I could not shine hope through my eyes anymore. I couldn't bear to see her in so much pain for another second. I wanted to run away, to hide my face from her pain and her cries for help. I had nothing left to give.
Anna's cousin Sarah and my sister Rebekah both told me that it was ok if I didn't have answers, I needed to tell Anna that I was there to go through this with her. I entered the room and Anna was crying out in pain. I walked over to her and she grabbed hold of me saying through her cries "I can't do this anymore. This has to be the end" she moaned. I knew what she meant by the end...she was in so much pain she wanted to die. She had been in pain for nearly a week and it was only getting worse. Her eyes searched mine for some sign of hope.
"I don't have any answers; I am at the end of my rope. I can't help you, but I am here with you and I will go through this WITH you" I answered with tears streaming down my face. I held on to her and prayed aloud to God for strength.
I cannot explain to you what happened next, but I can describe it. I felt strength ripple through my body. I felt hope surge in my soul. I didn't have any answers, but I knew we were going to get through this. I had hope shining in my eyes again, and I had more to give. So much more.
Eventually, after about 2 hours of intense "screaming" pain, the hospital was able to get a doctor to her and get her some relief. (Wesley had trauma victims and all of the Doctors at the hospital were in the OR at the time this was happening.)
I had been reading Romans for my devotions prior to all of this, and the words I took into the hospital with me on Monday were from Romans 8:26 "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." Those words were running through my mind all week as I continually cried out to God with fear, with anger and frustration, with questions...
It wasn't a magic prayer I prayed. It wasn't that God was busy and finally heard me. God allowed me to come to the end of myself so that His strength could be shown through me. 2 Corinthians 12: 10 says in part "For when I am weak, then I am strong." I knew those words, I had known them for a long time, but those few days in the hospital I actually LIVED them.
I hit rock bottom, and God was there.