I’ve always heard the phrase “when time stands still” but have never really used it until yesterday. Yesterday my mother and I said good bye to my father as they wheeled him away for a decidedly dangerous heart procedure at the Cleveland Clinic. In spite of the risk being estimated to be 20 times the usual risk with this procedure, my father was determined to give it a try believing it was his only chance or life. My mother and I knew he might not survive the procedure as we kissed him good bye.
That’s when time began to stand still. We checked into the waiting area and then found the hospital coffee shop. Having stocked up on drinks and snacks we went back to the family area to wait… and wait… and wait. We watched the update board, wandered the halls, and chatted about memories of days gone by. Periodically we called or texted with family members to update them that nothing was happening. The update board still said my father was prepped and ready but not yet in the procedure. People began to crowd the space and then to disperse. Still we waited. Finally four and a half hours later, we learned that the previous procedure had gone long but that my father would be going in soon! We went to find lunch. And then we went back to the room to wait… and wait… and wait. No doubt about it. It felt like time was standing still. I said the words out-loud and my mother agreed.
In the midst of the stopped clock, when for me, time was standing still, there was the presence of God. I would whisper a prayer that I knew God had already heard. I would be surprised by a text or email from someone on our church prayer chain with a reminder that people were praying for my dad. Then there were the words of hope and faith from my family. The presence of God was palpable as time was standing still.
God is our refuge and strength, (says the psalmist)
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46: 1-3)
I was aware in that spirit soaked day that God’s presence was real no matter what the outcome. God “had” my father and mother and my family and me. I was buoyed by prayer and buoyed by my Lord. I am grateful, however, that 8 1/2 hours after leaving my father we got good news. My father had survived. We wept tears of joy and gratitude.
I am grateful for this day of faith when God was indeed a refuge and strength in a time of trouble.
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