It was in April 1996 that I heard these words from my doctor, “Matt, you are now a healthy man. It’s a miracle you didn’t die.”
So the natural first reaction is:
Jump for Joy, right?
Well I did celebrate at first. Who wouldn’t after going through what I went through from 1993 to that day in April 1996. The tests, the doctors appointments, the symptoms, the complete changing of my life would all be behind me.
But then another thought hit me, “Oh No!!!! What do I do now?”
I had a similar reaction to the character Stella Abbott had in the new show Life Sentence. She had cancer for eight years and then she found out she was cured after getting married thinking it would only be for six months or so until she died. She had the “Oh No!!! Now what do I do” reaction.
I didn’t have cancer. It was autoimmune issue number 2 for me. First it was asthma. The second? Nothing serious unless it is not diagnosed until it is too late (in my case it almost was) my thyroid stopped working. By the time they found it, I was about to go into heart, liver, and kidney failure. I had lost memory. I had left the school where I was studying for the ministry in April 1994. When I came back to my home city, I thought it was to die because of the decline I was experiencing. I was working part-time delivering pizza just to scratch out almost survival living. I had left everything behind and then came those words, “Matt you are now a healthy man.”
An illness can be an intrusive interruption of life. When we are sick for a prolonged period of time, no matter what the illness is, and then hear we will be okay, yes there is a relief, but there is also the rebuilding of one’s life to start on. For me it meant transferring to a school in a city one hour away, continuing to work, and trusting God to make sense of it all for me as I started to pick up the pieces with his help.
I was literally trusting in the truth of what is written in Romans 8:28:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
There were the one hour drives to class, four hours of being in class, and one hour drives back home. There were different tries of new jobs. It was through my first three trips to Romania that God led me to teach ESL, but that is a story for another day.
I thank God for the people he put in my life during that time. One such friend passed away a few years ago and is with the Lord now. Joel and his wife Marlys were a huge blessing. One day my car broke down as I was driving to my class. I called Joel hoping to get a ride back to my city. He came and towed my car back to my city. There were others God put in my life too, but if I list them all the post will be way too long.
Here is the ‘plot twist’ so to speak in the story of my life. I am not happy I went through those years; one year getting sick, two years being sick, one year recovering, two more years to finish my education, but I am grateful for what those years did for me. Going through suffering, the doubt, and regrouping not knowing how it would work out, has given me a lot of empathy for my refugee and immigrant friends God has called me to help. I hope to be as good of a friend to them as Joel and Marlys were to me.
If you are experiencing an “Oh no” moment, hang on because God has a hold of you.
Thank you for reading. God Bless.