The Day His Heart Rejoiced

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"Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love." Ecclesiastes 9:9a

We are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary this month. I still remember the joy of seeing my lovely bride walking down the aisle to become my wife. I call my beautiful wife, Kristi, the delight of my eyes. We have been blessed with a solid and committed marriage. We rejoice with our three beautiful children and delight in our two granddaughters. But it almost drastically changed some 20 years ago. Kristi's eyesight had progressively and noticeably weakened for several months. An ophthalmologist suggested she needed more than a new eyeglass prescription. He told us she had a brain tumor.

Of course, we did not immediately accept the grim news, but after a local brain surgeon made his diagnosis, we asked what he could do to repair the problem. How I look at life is that if there is a problem, we can fix it. But we did not like his method of repair. He told Kristi that the procedure would be to open her skull, move her brain, remove about 50 percent of her tumor, then follow up with radiation.

Even then, she could suffer brain damage and may not regain her sight. The tumor was benign, but it was growing. Of course, we did not want to accept that suggestion, so we consulted two other experts who told us the same thing. We did not like what we heard.

Unhappy with the information, I felt that I, a pastor at the time, had to take some action. The one option we had received from three different, highly respected specialists was not what we wanted to accept.

At our church, we held healing services on the second Sunday of the month. I arranged a healing service for Kristi and began a week of fasting and praying to prepare for the anointing. I had high expectations for the service; however, it was poorly attended, and I felt no sense of God's presence.

Nevertheless, I anointed Kristi. I had expected God to do a great work. I saw nothing to indicate that he had done it. I was disheartened. I was angry. I had spent a week fasting, feeling God beside me, feeling certain this would culminate in healing from the hand of God, but I could not see or feel his presence during the healing service. I felt let down and abandoned. The excitement I felt during the week while I fasted turned to anger after the healing service.

Later in the day, I expressed my anger with God to Kristi. I told her I had acted and thought God was with me, and I had fasted, prayed, and anointed her. What more could I have done? I had done my part to heal my wife, but God's presence was missing at the healing service. I expressed my intense anger to Kristi.

After unloading my disappointment on her, I asked Kristi how the service had gone for her. She looked me in the eye and, in her sweet tone, said "All I know is that no one would have done for me what you have done." I took solace in that, even though God did not meet her needs in the way I wanted, He did help me to meet those of my wife. Still, after all my prayer hours, I could only wonder: Where was God's answer?

And then it came. Kristi's sister, Amy, a registered nurse, found a doctor through online research who invented a non-invasive procedure that could remove the tumor and cut through the eyebrow. The surgeon would not need to move the brain, and the surgery did not require radiation follow-up. 

We contacted Dr. Hrayr Shahinian, director of the Skull Base Institute in Los Angeles. We made an appointment for December 28. On Christmas Day, we said goodbye to our three children, then ages 15, 8, and 6—unsure what would happen—and flew to L.A for brain surgery.

We felt a sense of peace when we met the doctor. He was personable and confident. He told us three things:

  1. I've never lost a patient, have great calmness of heart. 
  2. I think your eyesight will be restored to what it was before you started having eye problems. Bring your glasses to surgery so we can test afterward. 
  3. I will do my best to keep the pituitary stem. There is only a 30 percent chance of loss; if the function is lost, medicine will correct the problem. 

Kristi's surgery lasted from 5:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Afterward, Kristi put on her glasses, and they worked. Dr. Shahanian told us he had removed 99.9 percent of the tumor, and it was gone.

While Kristi recovered in our hotel room, I took walks to give her the quiet she needed. One day I was walking down Via Rodeo in Beverly Hills, marveling at the luxury and wealth around me. The Lord brought to my mind the song" "The Via Dolorosa"-The Way of Suffering").

I began to sing the song to myself when God nudged me if I would choose to have riches or if I would take the way of suffering. The Holy Spirit took over my being, and I replied that I would follow and serve Him wholeheartedly, even if it meant traveling the way of suffering.

If I had not felt God's presence at Kristi's anointing, I sure experienced it with my heart, soul, and spirit on my walk on the Via Rodeo. It then became clear. God did not answer my prayers on my terms, in my time frame, or in a way I could immediately understand. But He answered them clearly and gloriously.

I sang praises aloud without fear as I walked past the shops on Via Rodeo. God had healed Kristi, the delight of my eyes, and opened my eyes to the way of suffering. He had answered my prayer in the holiest and most appropriate ways: His way (Isaiah 55:8-9).

As we rejoice on our fortieth wedding anniversary, we look back and see the grace of Christ guiding our every step. I love sharing the love we have shared for 40 years, my wife's healing, and how the Lord has blessed our family with His grace, love, and salvation. I now understand Psalm 50:15, which states, "...and call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor Me."

I delight in my Lord Jesus Christ and am so grateful for Him bringing us together in marriage over forty years ago. "The day of his wedding, the day his heart rejoiced." Song of Solomon 3:11b

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