Darkness. What thoughts permeate your mind when you hear the word? Was there ever a time when you were afraid of the dark? I’m sure I struggled with the fear of darkness as a child, but I don’t remember that fear being too much of an issue as a young child. It was a tremendous help sharing my room with my brother, only three years younger than me.
I genuinely believe that everyone battles with their version of darkness. If you’ve read any of my books, you know I’ve struggled with extreme claustrophobia for most of my life. I explained what I believe is the origin of my “irrational fear” to one of my sisters a couple of days ago. She nodded when she heard my story, agreeing that it might be the cause.
As adults, the fear of darkness may not be our constant struggle. However, sometimes there are times when God has blessed us with the right kind of fear. When you see a snake in the grass, that instinct of fear keeps you from getting bitten as you head in a different direction!
Motivated by Fear
I still remember reading a poster on the wall during physical therapy after the stroke. It stated that 40% of people who have suffered a stroke would have another. I was stunned by those numbers! At that moment, I committed to doing all I could to prevent experiencing another stroke. That was eleven years ago.
Fast forward to the end of last month. I was thrilled, expecting to celebrate another birthday on August 2nd. I’m not sure when it started, but I have enjoyed celebrating my birthday for the ENTIRE month of August, from August 2nd until Labor Day at the beginning of September. With that in mind, this year has been very different.
Facing My Fears
Last month, during a phone call with my baby sister, I felt tremendous pain in my left thigh. The pain became so intolerable that I pleaded with my sister that I needed to get off the phone. I must have given her a pretty good scare because later when we discussed, she considered calling 911 for me.
After getting off the phone with my sister, I returned to my room to try and get in bed. I was unable to lift my left leg and swing into my bed! What was going on? The pain had returned. Since my stroke, I’ve grown accustomed to all types and levels of pain, but this pain was different. I was scared. All I could do at that point was make myself comfortable on my sofa and try to get some rest.
Little did I know that the couch would become my place of rest for the next couple of weeks! Six days before my birthday, I awakened early that morning to go to the bathroom. As I made my way there, groggy and half asleep, I was startled when I noticed a bug in the corner of the bathroom. I could have returned to my sofa, but I HATE bugs! I feel they invade my domain when I see them in my home.
Facing the Darkness
I don’t care for spiders or bugs. I don’t believe that it’s fear. My youngest brother might beg to differ. In my efforts that morning to prevent that bug from entering my bedroom, I chased it down, and in an instant, when I went to strike a blow for my domain, BANG! Down goes Horace! I was, sprawled on the ground, not knowing what had happened. My weakened left leg had given out, and I struggled to get to my feet. I didn’t hit my head, but the force with which I hit the ground rattled me to the core!
I’d never fallen before in the twelve years since the stroke, not even in physical therapy! It was terrifying and surreal being down on the ground. By the grace of God, I hadn’t hit my head. The rollator did not fall on me, either. Immediately the pain in my left leg returned, worse than before. My left foot was twisted underneath me. It was a challenge to rectify the situation and get to my feet since most of the joints in my knee, ankle, and toes are still paralyzed.
I cried out to God, asking Him for the strength to get up. Finally, I was up and called for help. Later at the hospital, I bypassed the triage and ER and was rushed to the Stroke Unit. There was a higher pitch in my voice as I asked them to look at my leg, not my head. I had no desire to get a CT scan and face my claustrophobia fears again!
A Light in the Darkness
The doctor came and knelt in front of the wheelchair. He spoke softly and explained that they needed to examine my head and my back in the CT and then do an ultrasound of my leg. It was a struggle to get on the bed in the CT room. The pain in my leg was now excruciating. It was hard to lie still. I had to know what was wrong with me. So, I lay there as still as I could. I needed to see some light in my darkness, so I began praying again. I recited this scripture in my head.
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your god. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10.
Words cannot express the transcendent peace that flowed through my body as I lay there in the CT machine. In the darkness of that moment, the light of Jesus comforted my spirit and gave peace to my soul. I also quoted Psalm 23, which I committed to memory after trying to remember it twelve years ago after my stroke. There is no better remedy in challenging times than remembering that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and that He loves his sheep.
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled. nor let it be fearful. John 14:27.
Even though I was fearful and in extreme pain, talking with God gave me His peace. I lay there still as a board in the CT machine as they examined my head for another stroke and then looked at my back.
Hope Springs Eternal
After finally making it down off the CT table, I was wheeled from the dimly lit room. I would spend the rest of my hospital stay in the ICU. The nurse greeted me and checked my vitals. My blood pressure was elevated at 182/109. She was very conversational and did her best to put my mind at ease as technicians lined up at my hospital room door to run more tests, take x-rays, and do the ultrasound mentioned above on my leg.
Nurse Cathy was kind and patient despite my continued writhing in pain. She took the time to answer and ask the necessary questions. Speaking of questions, I could not begin to count the number spinning around in my head. Did I have another stroke? Where was this pain coming from? What is causing this additional weakness in my leg?
Yet, despite all the questions and concerns, I had peace. It’s hard to explain God’s peace. But after the CT scans, I was calm. For the first time, I had taken a CT scan without the help of medication. Jesus was my perfect prescription. Because of Him, I had hope.
Power of Prayer
As the day wore on, things began to slow down—no more x-rays. No more tests; I was waiting for the doctor to inform me about what had happened. Nurse Cathy popped her head in to insert an IV, she explained she had checked with Dr. B, and he was reviewing all my tests. By this time, my mother had made it to the ICU room. We waited patiently for the doctor to return.
In answer to prayer, the doctor confirmed that I did not have another stroke. The ultrasound revealed there was no blood clot in my leg. However, the CT of my back showed that both of the discs in my back are deteriorating. That is what is causing the weakness in my left leg.
The “new pain” I’m experiencing results from pressure points from my injured back. Another side benefit of the CT scan for my back. The doctor noticed that one of my kidney stones had moved and was now causing an obstruction. Lord willing, it will be taken care of by laser real soon.
They determined I was no longer “critical” and said I could finally return home. After another long wait, I received a pain injection in my IV from nurse Cathy. My mother had left to get her car. I asked the nurse when she got off. She said she was working a twelve-hour shift. She seemed exasperated because of the number of newer nurses in ICU due to losses from COVID-19. I asked if I could pray for her, and she said, “Yes!”
I asked God to give her strength and wisdom that day and encourage her heart. She thanked me for praying for her. We hugged, and then nurse Cathy wheeled me out to the car. It’s been almost a month since all of this took place. I admit there have been some PTSD since I’ve been back home. I did not feel like reliving what took place on July 27th. It has been weird being back home. Every time I stumble, my heart skips a beat! Two weeks ago, I told the nurse at my physical, “I can no longer take my balance for granted.”
I’m beyond thankful that Jesus watches over me. Things could have been a lot worse that day. He continues to show Himself faithful and strengthen my faith in Him. So, I leave you with another verse that continues to give me great comfort when I’m feeling fearful. I recommend committing it to memory.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7.
Friend, I don’t know what darkness you are dealing with now. But this I do know, Jesus wants to be your Light. Look to Him, and He will brighten the path that you are walking today. Click To Tweet
Let Jesus be your JOY. He will give you HOPE!
Horace Williams Jr.
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