Winston Churchill said: ‘never let a good crisis go to waste.’
Recently, on a Thursday night, my friend Jennifer’s husband of 10 years, Martin, came home from an overseas business trip. Jen and their young son, Shane, were overjoyed to see him. Martin is a young-looking, handsome 50 year old, in relatively good health. He’s a devoted and loving husband and father, going above and beyond to care for his family. He’s in senior leadership in a stressful corporate role.
The next morning, Martin woke up with terrible stomach pains. It was so bad he could barely stand up. Going to work was out of the question. He asked Jen to take him to the hospital. Alarmed, Jen put him in the car and sped off, breaking red lights to get him to a private hospital.
The doctor’s report was dire. He had a swollen gall bladder that was at the risk of dying and becoming gangrenous or bursting and becoming septic. He had kidney stones and his prostate was enlarged. He was whisked to emergency surgery. When the doctors opened him up, they realised it was worse than they thought. Gangrenous cells had already started moving into his internal organs. They had to scrape some off his chest walls.
Post-surgery, he’s been doing better, although his white blood cell count isn’t yet where it should be. Doctors won’t release him from the hospital until this improves. He’s on antibiotics and will need physiotherapy. Jen is a devoted believer and has been by his side every step of the way. She epitomizes the power of a dedicated and praying wife.
I was thinking about the lessons that could be gleaned from that experience. They are both practical and spiritual:
1. Life can change in an instant
One minute, Jen and Martin were living a trouble-free life, and in the next, Martin’s life was in jeopardy.
When we are experiencing good times, we don’t often think that we may be a few moments away from a tragedy. Instead of this being a scary thought, we can use that realization to cause us to lean into God more, knowing that our life is in His Hands. This should change how we live.
Colossians chapter 3 verse 2-3 says: “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” This means setting aside anything that God wouldn’t be pleased with, in how you live, what you say and do and how you devote our time, energy and resources.
We are new creatures in Christ, but we live in an imperfect world. No oppression can crush us (2 Corinthians chapter 4 verses 7 to 9). With Christ, we are invincible. That knowledge gives us the power to withstand any obstacle. Even if our flesh dies, we have eternal life with Him.
2. Know your family medical history and take care of your health
Martin’s family has a genetic predisposition for high cholesterol. Even if he eats well, he needs to take medication to control the level in his body. This medication has side effects, so he hasn’t been taking it consistently. The past year, he’s felt tired and has had bad heartburn. The irony is he’d had an appointment to see an internist a few days before the medical emergency. It was an appointment he’d kept pushing back due to work commitments.
He’d been working so hard; he’d had several weeks of vacation stored up over years. On top of that, Martin has been too busy to even play squash at the club his company pays for. He grabs junk food between meetings when he has no time for a proper lunch.
Now, Martin has been forced to rest. He lies in a hospital bed, not taking meetings or making business decisions. A physiotherapist helps him take a few steps out of bed and down the hall. Those few steps are an achievement. He has a long road to recovery ahead of him. Every milestone, no matter how small, is worth celebrating.
Balance is key.
Listen to your body. Organ care is vital. Don’t keep going at a fast pace until your system crashes.
Take care of your health. Lie down and rest when necessary.
3. God’s timing is perfect
Martin didn’t fall sick while overseas, away from his family.
Martin’s surgeon is one of the best in the country. Jen has a friend who knows this surgeon and so the surgeon has taken a personal interest in the case. He is in demand for his superb skills and expertise. It just so happened that the same doctor was just coming out of another surgery at the same hospital where Martin was admitted. He had the time to go see Martin.
In a believer’s life, there is no coincidence. There are God-appointments. He orchestrates everything in your life for your good.
4. Health insurance and emergency funds are key
Martin has a health insurance policy from his employer, but he has to pay a deductible. Jen has had to pay money upfront for every test and procedure. Thankfully, Jen has the financial resources to cover this. She and Martin have been blessed.
However, not everyone has this luxury. Planning ahead for emergency spending like this is a good idea. Have a stash of savings for a rainy day. Even if your employer’s health package isn’t attractive, you can take out your own insurance policy. Remember that one bad illness can wipe out life savings.
5. Introspection is a gift
This experience has given Martin a jolt. He’s not as strong in his faith as Jen. Jen has used this opportunity to encourage Martin to lean into God and to trust Him. She sees this trial as an opportunity for them both to grow in faith.
While we all want to do a good job, workaholism can kill. It can be easy for a job to take up our main focus, even causing us to spend less time with God or giving less consideration to pleasing him.
Every crisis is a chance to learn. That knowledge is precious.
Sharma Taylor is a corporate attorney with a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Law from Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. She won the 2017 Basil Sellers International Young Writers prize in the Press Service International young writer program, the 2019 Tronson Award (International) and the 2021 Basil Sellers award for International Senior Writers. Every day, she loves experiencing the beautiful surprises that God has stored up for her and longs to keep cultivating a servant-heart.