Unless you happen to be family, a person over whose soul I watch on behalf of God (the Biblical practice of pastoral relationship or discipleship) or on our ministry’s prayer team, you probably are unaware that since December 2021 I’ve had a few health problems.
Before Thanksgiving last year my body began to collect fluid, in particular, around my lungs. I experienced extreme shortness of breath which I incorrectly attributed to asthma, something my body has been familiar with since I was a baby.
I did what most males my age try to do: I tried to handle it myself.
"The doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient.” - Sir William Osler
was being foolish. (I’ve never concealed the fact that I am, in many ways, a normal guy.
(Sir Willian Osler also said this, “Quit worrying about your health. It'll go away.”)
I’m not sure how close I came to that happening in December but, eventually, I listened to my wife and went to get checked out. We found through a chest x-ray and a contrast cat-scan that I was VERY close to having pneumonia. I had been flirting with the prospect of my health going away altogether through neglecting to look into it.
We have excellent medical care in our little county and the local hospital is great. The E.R. care I received there was rapid and effective. Between the diagnosis and medical care, I received I was able to go home and heal up without being admitted to the hospital.
I left, though, with appointments for several new doctors. I started regularly seeing my kidney specialist, who I was seeing now and then at the time to monitor my kidney function. Those had declined a bit due to diabetes, which I had been grossly neglecting. I’ve been compliant about that ever since.
I also took on a cardiologist because my heart function was dropping. It seems a condition I had since birth, which only affected me intermittently in the past has become a moment-by-moment thing. It’s affected my overall feeling of wellness but is probably the main culprit to kicking off December’s health woes.
Some of the testing, which involves using medical dyes, has also apparently enhanced that as well as negatively impacting my lowered kidney function. We’ve helped that recover by refusing other such tests, by being kind to my kidneys regarding how I manage diabetes, and by allowing the Lord time to heal them. Those are looking better.
Today I consulted with a NEW (for me) cardiologist about receiving a pacemaker which will address my heartbeat issue. I’m looking forward to regaining lost heart function. Then I can increase physical activity and lose some weight and feel even better.
Now, I don’t talk about my own physical heath much because, really, I consider it to be less important than spiritual, mental, emotional, relational, etc. health. But God chose to put us in bodies which (thanks to Adam) age and wear out. Our physical bodies are a reality. How they function can affect quality of life in ALL those areas I just mentioned.
About 10 days ago I went to the hospital to get a flu test. Turned out I tested positive for COVID (round 2 for me – first round was in December 2020). The covid itself wasn’t really that bad a case and was addressed with steroids, antibiotics, and vitamins. However, this time (because of what happened in December) the weak spots this man-made disease attacked was what was already most weak: my lungs, heart, kidneys, and (curiously) my liver function!
All those caused enzymes to show in blood work which indicated stress at the least and, perhaps damage. For me, it meant 4 days in our local excellent hospital – 2 of those in ICU for the administration of some preventative medications. As usual, they took amazing care of me and I was released and am at home recuperating and doing a little work in my office again.
Like I said, I don’t talk about my own physical heath much. This article is not about that; I shared all that as a foundation to lead us to the reason for this article.
This piece is about some things the Lord has showed me about the “Delicate Balance” (the name of this article) He maintains in our lives.
The thing I have observed about health issues, and I saw it a lot when I served as a hospice chaplain, is that its VERY easy to think and talk about nothing but the health issues. Being virtually buried in new doctors, blood and other tests, new doctor’s offices, appointments, and loving people earnestly inquiring about how you feel can easily cause this to be pretty much the only topic in your mind.
Yet, through it all…we are still God’s “workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10). There’s nothing in the Bible that says we are ever put out to pasture, somehow exempt from being valuable to affect others for the Kingdom of God, because we are sick or physically compromised or, even, actively dying.
We are STILL important in His plan!
So, in the wee hours of a stormy Wednesday night, I lay in a hospital bed watching God put on a light show and water the earth and I was working to fall asleep despite being jazzed up on IV steroids. My thoughts were aplenty.
I decided to speak to and LISTEN to the Lord. I asked Him to show me what He was seeing, a common simple prayer of mine. I never heard Him speak at that moment. Instead, He led me to this verse:
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…” (Hebrews 1:1-3)
It was that term “upholding all things by the word of His power” that took me to this verse. Jesus does this: He actively…all the time…eternally “bears up all things, upholds them, directs them, governs them.”
Paul spoke of this to the Christians in Colossae (and to us):
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:15-17)
In the NASB, that term “consist” is translated as “hold together”.
Whether it be “upholding all things by the word of His power” or holding all things together in Himself, the results are the same and so is the motive of the Lord. He actively chooses to love us in this way.
He does this for people and, you know, He does this in ALL creation.
As I lay there in that bed I remembered something about our planet. The Earth is tilted on a 23.5° axis relative to our orbit around the sun. Because of this tilt, we are able to experience winter, autumn, summer and spring.
Jesus, when He spoke all things into being, did that. He set that up.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
Jesus did that.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)
The very survival of the humanity on Earth is due to this tilting of Earth on its axis that cause change in seasons on the planet. Jesus put that into place. What a “Delicate Balance”! All intended and maintained by our Lord and King.
So, I lay in a hospital bed on my right side, watching Him water the earth and give me a pretty impressive light show as a bonus. I wondered what was happening in my body and I realized that some things which required my stewardship were out of balance.
I realized that that same delicate balance which keeps the Earth tilted just so is happening in each of us.
The sensation which flooded over me was one of extreme vulnerability. Now, I’m not afraid to be vulnerable…it just wasn’t an enjoyable sensation at the moment – stuck, as I was in ICU and hooked to several IV poles and machines.
I reasoned through this and realized I wasn’t vulnerable to all the trappings of a hospital stay. I was and AM vulnerable to Him.
And, guess what? I ALWAYS have been – I just never saw it.
As a young person I never overtly said it or thought it…but, deep inside, I believed that I was almost bulletproof. I did so many risky things…foolish things and most of them never really took a toll on me (that I could discern). ALL that time God was still maintaining that delicate balance in my life – even before I joyously received Him as my eternal Father.
My point for writing all this? I really just wanted to share part of my own journey.
I’m not thrilled that I cannot breathe like I want to or that I lack stamina and strength I once had. But, I AM pretty content. I hope that becomes my new normal about everything.
“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
I’m also grateful. I appreciate those who have called to check on us and those who offered to help us in any way they could…and really meant it. I’m thankful for the man and his son who came and mowed our lawn last weekend.
I’m so thankful to be married to Laurie who takes such good care of me and who lets me do the same for her when she needs it.
Most of all, I’m secure knowing that Jesus, the Creator, Sustainer, and Maintainer of all things, holds me in the palm of His hand.
May the Lord bless you this day with an awareness of HIS awareness of you and His love for you.
Pastor Mike McInerney
Mike McInerney Ministries, Inc.
© April 6, 2022
(for use with permission)