I have every reason to be mad at God.
My husband, Ian, and I were married right out of college. Nine years later, we were living a picture perfect life. My dream of being a stay-at-home mom came true. Ian was working as a freelance software developer, a job we decided would keep him close during the day. We had a smart, beautiful girl who had just started Kindergarten, an active two-year-old boy hungry for adventure, and a 10-month-old bundle of boy joy. Life couldn’t get any better.
I never saw it coming. It happened so fast. What started as a common cold for my husband ended up changing our lives forever.
“Your husband’s blood pressure and oxygen levels are dangerously low,” the emergency room doctor said to me. “He is in septic shock.”
At the time I didn’t know what septic shock meant, but by the looks on everyone’s faces I could tell it wasn’t good news. OK, I thought. Let’s get him some medicine so we can get him home.
I soon learned he was not going to get any medicine to take home. He was not going home at all. Instead, he had to be transferred to a larger hospital that had an intensive care unit with resources to care for him.
The day played out as if in slow motion. It was surreal, like a movie. I wished it was happening to someone else instead of me. My husband was truly ill. I was told his chance of survival was slim.
“Your husband is in multi-organ failure. I’d advise you to get your things in order.” The intensive care unit doctor was kind, but dead serious.
By the end of the day, Ian’s condition had worsened so much that he was in a medically induced coma and breathing only with the help of a ventilator.
Why is this happening, God? What is going to happen to us and our kids? I don’t understand.
My world came tumbling down. I was in the middle of a terrible nightmare, one I couldn’t wake up from. My 32-year-old husband was fine yesterday, but today he was dying. How am I going to tell the kids their daddy is gone? I don’t want to be a single mom! My 10-month-old will have no memory of his father. This is too much.
I found myself at the bottom of a deep, dark pit feeling sorry for myself. What should I do? Ian always knows what to do, but he can’t help me now.
I had a choice to make. Was I going to give up and continue to fall deeper into this pit, or was I going to rise to the challenge? I didn’t ask for the spotlight, and yet all eyes were on me. I was the one who had to make the calls about Ian and our children.
I’d always been a believer in God. I knew He was there. I knew He loved me and my family. I’d never searched for Him like this before. I knew without God there was no way I was going to make it through this. Ian was going to die. I’d be a heartbroken widow with three young kids to take care of. It was too much.
In total desperation, I turned to God.
With great expectation, I turned to God.
Only He could help me now.
That night in the intensive care unit, everything pointed to Ian’s inevitable death. His vital signs were extremely low. A team of specialists had done all they could for him, and there was nothing left to do but wait to see what would happen. As a last desperate plea, I got on my knees, lay my face on the floor outside his room, and prayed aloud.
“God, please save Ian’s life! You can do all things! I’m not ready to be a single mom! I can’t do this alone! I need your help!”
At that moment, a deep sense of peace flooded through me. It was as if a heavy weight was lifted from my shoulders. I gave up. If God wanted this for us, then I had to trust that it must be best. I realized that I was not in control of this situation—or any other, for that matter. I had no choice in whether Ian would live or die. I had to trust God.
God was there with me on that hospital floor. He comforted me and began to build me up. He helped me search deep inside myself for something I never knew I had, and I found it. I was brave. I was strong. I found courage to press on.
Knowing the power of prayer, I asked everyone around me to pray for Ian’s healing. I knew God answers the prayer of His people, and I was certain He would hear us. It was astonishing to see how the community used Facebook, blogs, and email to ask for prayer for Ian. People I didn’t even know were petitioning on our behalf.
Our God is so gracious and loving. After nine days of therapies, medication, and prayer, my husband miraculously woke up. God answered our prayers! He survived a condition all doctors had warned me he wouldn’t. I was grateful I’d have a husband to grow old with after all. Our children would have their daddy, too. Witnessing this miracle rekindled my faith in God and the power of prayer.
However, there were consequences I was not ready to deal with when Ian woke up. The medications that helped save his life had also done irreversible damage to his body. Ian’s hands and feet did not receive adequate blood flow for many days and turned black. I witnessed his hands and feet die. Ultimately, nothing could be done to restore them. Six months later, both of his legs and all of his fingers were amputated.
Why, God? Why did this happen? Ian is such a good man. Why did he have to go through this? How is he going to get through life without fingers and feet? What are the kids going to think about their daddy now? What about me? I don’t want to be the wife of a disabled man!
I have every reason to be mad at God. But would you believe that I’m not? In fact, I am grateful. These last four years of my life have molded me into the person I am today. Would you believe that I am a better person than the one I was before this happened? I can now see that I was selfish and proud. Bitterness and envy were part of who I was. If this hadn’t happened, I’d still be that negative person I used to be. I am much happier with this new version of myself than I was with the previous one. Now my life is full of purpose and true joy.
Have I lived through hardship and struggle? Yes. Was I upset that my husband lost his fingers and feet? Of course. Do I wish this had never happened? No.
I’m grateful that God used my weaknesses to show me His strength. My whole life I’d been weak and uncertain of myself. During the time Ian was hospitalized, I became a new me. I became strong and confident. God gave me the qualities I needed to be my husband’s advocate and biggest fan.
God also led me to the realization that I am not in control. I couldn’t control whether Ian lived or died, and I had to give up control of my children when I was in no position to care for them myself. Giving up control of my children and my husband’s well-being were the hardest things I have ever done. God showed me being in control was His job, not mine. I began to trust His will wholeheartedly without question.
One of the biggest challenges for me was being Ian’s caregiver. When he came home from the rehab hospital after being away from home for two months, I became Ian’s full-time nurse. In addition to taking care of our three kids, Ian had to be fed, bathed, and nursed back to health. My promise to him on our wedding day, “in sickness and in health,” never rang truer.
Taking care of everyone forced me to be selfless. I learned to take care of everyone else’s needs before my own. I cannot count the number of days when I forgot to eat a meal or skipped a shower because I was so exhausted. My only goal for each day was to survive. I was weak, tired, and quite honestly, discouraged many times. I’m thankful God provided me with the strength to make it through.
The greatest lesson I’ve learned is that God is faithful. He has never left me or my family. He has clearly walked this path alongside us and provided our every need. For many months, friends took care of our family. We had home-cooked meals delivered to us, and our children were well cared for while I stayed in the hospital with Ian. We received generous donations that supported our family for the two years Ian was unable to work. It’s hard to be angry when there is every sign that God is present, isn’t it?
I’m happy to say my family has now reached our new normal. Ian walks with prosthetic legs and has figured out how to live life without his fingers. He is completely independent and back at work. He even helps me with tasks around the house! After this experience, I will never take our boring, uneventful life for granted again.
My children are amazing. They are ten, seven, and five years old now, and they’ve adjusted to our new normal very well. They love their daddy so much and don’t see anything different about him. I think this trial has given them a wonderful perspective of life, and they are better for it. They have become loving, accepting children who happen to have a tough experience under their belts. For that, I am grateful. So, I am not angry at God. God has gifted me and my family with lessons that we can carry for the rest of our lives. We have found joy in life no matter what the circumstance.
One night after Ian had his legs amputated, we lay in bed talking.
“I still can’t believe you don’t have legs,” I said. I thought back to how easy things were before he got sick, when he had legs. “You know, things will never be like they were before.”
“I know,” he said. “That’s OK. They’ll be better than before.”
Tears filled my eyes as I looked at my amazing husband. I couldn’t agree with him more.
To read more about this amazing story, visit Denisse’s blog.