When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
For 49 years, I have been a heart patient and it seems as normal to me as walking or sleeping. I’ve learned to live with a heart that needs special meds to work well and sometimes needs medical maintenance. Three times I’ve had major heart surgery – first, when I was only months old, while the latest was in 2011 when my pulmonary valve was replaced. There have been countless miracle stories along the way – from my poor, rural family being introduced to the world’s best pediatric cardiologist in 1967, to having my life saved by a tiny device that was only implanted because a surgeon felt the whim to test me for a condition that no other doctor had diagnosed.
It’s a miracle that I’ve survived a heart disease that took nearly every young child’s life in the 1960’s. It’s a miracle that I have played sports, traveled the world, climbed and hiked through the mountains, and have had more than enough energy for a wife and two teenagers. I’m blessed to have lived a full life despite the constant reminders of a heart that is not always perfect or cooperative. There have been some scary days, but I’m not afraid. I’ve always known my life is in the hands of the One who made me.
I’m writing this to everyone who has ever heard troubling news from a doctor and felt alone or fearful. I understand because I’ve heard the same reports and felt the same dread. I’ve also been a witness of the faithful presence of Jesus and have found indescribable comfort from knowing Christ is, indeed, with me. He is with you, too and that’s more than enough. That’s not just some syrupy, sentimental cliche designed to numb you into some fantasy. Jesus, instead, gives us a new reality to proclaim over our sickness. He is Lord and He is faithful. He is good and He is near.
Do not give up hope and do not be afraid. Both were constant reminders from Jesus, because, I suspect, he knew we would need to be constantly reminded. My prayer is for healing, wholeness and Divine repair for all that has been lost or broken. I pray that all of us would be a witness of the faithful presence of Jesus and would not spend a second of our lives feeling forgotten or lost.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.