Though I Walk Through The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Recently I wound up in the hospital. It started on a Wednesday where around dinner time I suddenly got this massive headache. I would soon find out it was accompanied by a low grade fever. I didn’t think a lot of it and took some aspirin. Thursday I woke up with the headache still there only now the fever was approaching 103 degrees. We reached out to my primary doctor who felt that it might be COVID. So off we went for me to get tested. The results were negative.

In addition to this drama, my big toe on my right foot felt like it was not getting enough attention so it began to have drainage out of a suddenly open wound. This didn’t seem like that big of a deal since there was no swelling or discoloration or smell. It seemed like it was more an annoyance than anything else.

Friday things began to change. My fever was toppling over 103 while my toe was beginning to swell up. Having reached out to my foot doctor, he stated that I needed to go immediately to the hospital. I then called my primary care doctor. Why? Because I wanted a second opinion. Why? Because I was scared that I would lose my big toe. And that would be bad. I have lost three toes to diabetes but they have been interior toes. The two outer toes (the big and the pinky) are extremely important for balance and walking. If I lost my big toe there would be major issues and I did not want them. My primary care doctor was probably thinking “How much of an idiot is this guy” as he told me to follow the advice of the foot doctor.

Arriving at the hospital, the Emergency Room doctor took one look at my toe that was now double in size and declared that I was being admitted. Some time later, I was moved to a room. My wife initially accompanied me to the room and helped me get settled. Then she left for the night. I would love to tell you that I slept but I was going between uncontrollable chills and shivering to sweating profusely.

Saturday we discovered that I was in “no-drip isolation”. This meant that I could not have visitors and when staff entered the room they had to wear extra protection. This protection took the form of an additional gown over their scrubs plus a paper gown over that. Two masks that were covered by a full face shield. Two layers of gloves or more. And there were many times that after entering the room they would have to stand at the doorway and ask for additional medicine or items so they didn’t have to step outside the room. Stepping outside meant taking off all of that extra protection and throwing it away to be burned. This was because they did not know if I had COVID. And because of that, I got to have two amazing cleanings done of my nostrils (and brain) for the two different tests for COVID that they performed.

Sunday I realized that I knew what a leper felt like back in Bible times. Here I was feeling horrible and people didn’t want to be near me. Which would be hard for me normally but was excruciating with having this fever and headache. I truly felt like I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I told the lord one simple word in prayer, “Help!” Help he provided. The isolation got lifted. The foot doctor had spoken to me the night before about removing a screw in my foot (yes, I had a screw loose but they removed it, LOL) which he believed was the source of the infection and thus the fever. I was excited.

The really cool thing was that God showed me I was never alone. And I am not just speaking about God being with me. Sunday evening before the Monday morning surgery, I was worshipping in the room at a level that I thought was not able to be heard. I was wrong. The nurse came in and asked if I was singing. I told her that I was worshipping so that I could be close to God going into the surgery. She then shared how she was also a Christian. Then within the next day, I learned that almost every nurse, charge nurse and technician who had taken care of me was a believer. In fact, with the exception of one shift after the surgery, I was never without a believer caring for me and praying for me. And I needed it.

Psalm 23:4 in the Passion translation declares “Lord, even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have!You remain close to me and lead me through it all the way.Your authority is my strength and my peace.The comfort of your love takes away my fear.I’ll never be lonely, for you are near.” This is exactly what God did with all those caring believers who were surrounding me when my friends and family could not. In my dark time, when I was walking through the valley of deepest darkness and the shadow of death, God stationed believers all around me. Praise God!

I don’t know what people are going through but I do know that if you are a believer and God is your shepherd then God is with you. Some times he is there with you through friends and family. Some times he is there with you in his overwhelming presence. And some times he is there through a series of other believers that he has stationed around you for such a moment as this. Be encouraged that God will never leave your side.

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