When I first woke from a sudden, near-fatal brain-stem stroke, I could hardly move, nor could I speak. I was 26 years old and instinctively wanted to nurse my six-month-old baby but could no longer hold him, much less act as his mommy. I was surrounded by doctors and nurses and loved ones constantly, but I had never felt more alone.
A tangled mass of blood vessels ruptured, causing the stroke, and had to be removed, along with half of my cerebellum. Miraculously, I could think and process fairly normally, but people didn’t realize it at first since I could not talk. I spent months essentially entombed in a severely restricted body. Many spoke to me like “I” wasn’t in there and talked as if I was cognitively impaired.
Weeks led to muted months, and I was given a message board to type on with my one, working hand. I repeatedly wrote over and over, “I am the same on the inside! I am the same on the inside!”
Life in a broken world means all of us experience loneliness and isolation in various ways. While it is excruciating to be left alone, a startling question we don’t always get to ask ourselves is: what if we only had ourselves and our own thoughts and feelings to talk to? Where would we be?
Mercifully, the Lord never intended for us to be alone, especially the deepest place: our souls. As Jesus was preparing to leave the disciples in the cross, death, then resurrection and ascension, He reassured them that His spiritual presence would be with them forever.
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. — John 14:16-18
Mining the treasures of the indwelling Holy Spirit of the resurrected Christ is ours for this lifetime and the next. Though this may sound crazy, I’ve come to realize I was actually fortunate to have been restricted in such a way that the only true, two-way conversation I could have in the darkest season of my life was with the Lord. And believe me, I’ve never been at a loss for words, but He out-chatted me! Listen to what Christ goes on to promise us in His indwelling:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. — John 14:26
I had moments in the hospital when I believed my survival from the stroke was a mistake. I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t be a mother to my son or a wife to my husband. I should have died. But it was as if the Lord said, “I am not leaving you alone, Katherine. I am here…. Because I live, you also will live….” The Lord tells us in John 14:16, that He corrects our lies and fears with the truth. The truth is my survival was not a mistake. The Lord gave me hope that He indeed meant for me to live on this earth now with great purpose, but my greatest life is yet to come, when I am, one day, resurrected face to face with Him in a body fully restored.
After 40 days in ICU nearly two years in neuro-rehab, I re-learned how to talk, how to walk, how to eat, how to be a wife and mom again. But even before I left the hospital, I knew I had to share the hope Christ had given me. Since that time, my husband and I have begun a ministry called Hope Heals to bring Christ’s hope to those with broken hearts and broken brains, those who feel alone in a world moving on without them.
Christ has promised that despite how deeply alone we might feel in our bodies, those who seek Him are anything but alone in our souls. With His Spirit in us, we live and move and have our being. That is our healing and that is our hope.
Watch the Video for Hope Heals
Original writing for Devotionals Daily by Katherine Wolf shared with permission by the author.
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Most of us will never have Katherine’s experience but we can and do go through periods of feeling scorchingly alone and isolated. Have you been there? Did you find Jesus there with you? Come share with us on our blog! We’d love to hear from you about suffering and finding that God’s will is never a mistake. ~ Devotionals Daily