The following blogpost was something I wrote a few years ago to my close family and friends when I went through some of the toughest days in my life. I believe it will offer some encouragement and insight to Christians who find facing trouble…. troublesome! I hope what I share provokes you to embrace each challenge with praise from an assured heart that trusts God’s word and love.
Early in 2009, I had to return to India from London quite suddenly. Without much notice, I was thrust into one of life’s crucibles- my engagement to Hannah on hold, a career at a standstill, unemployed and financially dependent on others, and to top it off a health issue that hit me hard.
The following text was written in May 2009, a few days before I turned 25:
I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever!! Every season I have in India is filled with interesting twists and turns and magnificent opportunities to be trained in God’s ways. This time was no different. Amidst all the oddities of having to return to India suddenly, and a wedding that is soon approaching, God brought me to Hyderabad to train me but also to use me. It has also been special to stay with Adarsh and Tiqvah (brother-in-law and sister), catching up and just having good family time. God has provided in such amazing ways for everything I need…and sometimes even more than I need. Isn’t our God goooooooooooood!!?
The past two months have been a lot of ‘not much’ to the normal passer-by, but these months have been months where the Lord has put His hand into my life and touched things that needed healing and growth. Towards the start of April the Lord begun to use me to help churches around the South of India with worship leading and equipping younger worship teams with workshops. Working with these churches have been a blessing. I have a few more workshops scheduled for the month of May…so do keep me in prayer!
The past few days have been the weirdest days in my life yet! I have just returned from a trip in Kerala where I was with Community of Grace Church after two weeks of ministering there, and enjoying some time with my relatives. Towards the end of my trip there I began to find it hard to breathe and developed some chest pains which began to get more frequent when I got back to Hyderabad. Being someone who has rarely ever visited a hospital, it was weird signing up to get a full check.
Eventually, after I went through a day of tests and xrays and blood samples and lots of other alphabets (I do know what they are, just getting on with it) I went into the room to consult with the cardiologist expecting her to say….”yup you’re fine, just eat properly… yada yada” instead she looked at me and said…”Mr.Thomas…you’ve got a hole in your heart!”. <PAUSE> I said “what?” (with a wry smile)…she proceeded to show me the picture taken on the echocardiogram and showed me this hole. “You’ve had this since birth Mr.Thomas.. Physicians don’t usually pick these sort of things up when they are that small”.
In my head I’m thinking “Okkkkkkkk… small is good! small is good!” and immediately two words came to me “I saw your unformed body, when I put you together….and I have healed alllllllllll your diseases”. So the ‘small is good’ train of thought had to be stopped and derailed immediately. While all this is going on in my head, she is scribbling away as only a doctor can….and then looks up and says….”I want to go in and look closer, so we can see what needs to be done”. I only heard the first bit of the sentence and imagined…my chest wide open with knives and hands inside me. To my relief she said it was a probe sent in through my mouth (as bad as it sounds, seemed easier on the brain than knives and blood) so she could look at the heart up close. She scheduled the appointment for the next day (today) and sent me home.
I awoke the next morning (today, 30th April) with a bunch of praise songs coming out my mouth. Funnily, as I approached a more intimate time of worship, a song I tried to write when I was 18 came to mind…”There’s a hole in my heart that only you can fill, come and fill me up”. ! I was sitting there smiling at God saying….”you literally have to fill this hole in my heart now, God”. Though it seems like a cheesy line from a 90’s pop song, it was soooo real to me as began to sing other lines with it taken from Psalm 139. By the time I reached the hospital, Psalm 139 was such a part of me that I was sure that the same God who knit me together in my mother’s womb was the only one who had the exact kind of tissue, blood vessel or whatever was needed to fill that gap.
So, after numbing my throat with some anaesthetic gloop and probing around my chest from the outside I was taken into another examination room where just like some scary movies you see the doctor slap on the gloves and walk towards you as he pulls his mask over. These images made me smile, because I was thinking “Man! I’m in some sort of movie!” Anyway, after gagging and nearly strangling the doctor who was stuffing what looked like a black electronic spring onion with a massive stalk down my throat, he managed to get it in and there were mmmm’s and aaaaah’s all over the room. I seemed a good subject to train a few junior cardio’s, so I had three of them at the foot of my bed. Now, as he twists the probe around the doctor exclaims “I’ve found it” and goes on to decribe it with medical jargon that they use just incase the patient is listening (hahhaha..kidding). He calls the two other examining doctors to look at it, because this hole is alot bigger than originally anticipated and it was in a totally different place from where the usual holey-hearted people have them. As I’m hearing this, I spoke to the Lord in my head and said ” Lord, cause them to see what You’ve done, because Your word said it’s done, and I’ve taken You at Your word”.
Ten minutes later I hear a lot of commotion in the room; the big wigs in the cardiology department are called in. Now I have 6-8 doctors standing around me and the 3 junior doctors. They all begin to talk about what they’re seeing and then I hear a few say, “there’s a thin membrane formed around the hole…nothing is flowing out”. Then counter arguments ensue as the doctor twists the probe from side to side trying to get the best view of my heart. “It doesn’t make sense! how can there be a membrane (alot of other jargon thrown in after that word…which I have no clue about) right across the hole?”, he says. With a probe in my throat exploring my oesophagus and a mouthpiece to guide the tube in….I groan out (actually a shout) a garbled “HALLELUJAH!!!!”. Thinking I’m in pain, the doctor says “I’m almost done”. Then with all the doctors in agreement, they conclude…the hole in my heart is no longer a hole.
As soon as that tube was out of my mouth….I said “ThankYou Lord, I live by your word”. The doctors all smiled at me and said…”you must be nervous”…I said “Nope, just thankful”. As I left the room they gave me a CD of all the views they had taken of my heart along with all the test reports from the day before as well. As I held that huge folder of papers in my hand (about 50 pages of analysis and reports) I was reminded how all these were just REPORTS!!! As I skipped out of there, I began singing “Whose report will you believe? I will believe the report of the Lord”. I reached the parking lot and sat in the car alone and had a major crying-thank-offering session unto the Lord. That is when I got the opening line to my email….I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever!!
Isn’t He wonderful !!?. I hope this real life movie which just happened in my life, serves as a testimony to God’s amazing faithfulness to His word….but also as a prodding to take God at His word and not back down. If He can fill up holes inside one of the most intricate things known to man…how much more can he deal with situations on the outside that seem to bother us.
I’m due back at the doctor’s soon to tell them what progress I’ve made and to discuss how I can be healthy. I’ve made soooo much progress in the past 48 hours for I have first and foremost HIS WORD!
I’ll end with:
20 My son/daughter, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21Do not let them depart from your sight;
Keep them in the midst of your heart.
22For they are life to those who find them
And health to all their body.
23Watch over your heart with all diligence,
For from it flow the springs of life.
I hope my story encouraged your faith. The overcoming of trials is not always quick and immediate, but until we see complete victory in all our trials, we know they are achieving for us an eternal weight in glory. James says it like this “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing”. (James 1:2-4 ESV)
Here are a couple more people, whose faith and perseverance have encouraged me.
2 thoughts on “The heart of the matter: Getting through trials”
Well done, Judah. To God be the glory. I know spiritually, your heart is full, even to overflowing! But you don’t need a hole for that–only a mouth. 😉
Judah, I didn’t know the whole story of your medical ordeal, and I’m so glad you shared it. What a Father we have! And what a precious example of His care for you that you can always look to as you move from faith to faith. Thank you, Lord!