We had a great Thanksgiving. Our house was full for dinner with four generations being represented. The activity level was increased by the presence of our three grandchildren, two girls and a boy, who literally ran from one end of the house to another. After our guests departed, and we were able to clean-up the aftermath, Ann and I retired for a good night’s rest. It was a wonderful evening!
Then, at one o’clock the next morning, I was awakened by my cell phone. Our daughter Sarah's husband was calling and it was not good news. Sarah had collapsed and he had called an ambulance which was due to arrive at any time. It was the beginning of a family ordeal that would dominate our lives for the next several months. Sarah, at the age of thirty, had a stroke as a result of a ruptured brain aneurysm.
Sarah was flown to a medical center that was couple of hours drive from our home. The emergency room doctor who initially treated her was very clear that her survival status was “touch and go.” Since I had already been up for a number of hours without sleep, it was decided that Ann would drive family members to the hospital. On that very long drive, I sat with my son-in-law in the back seat, weeping off and on, engulfed in fear, and not knowing how all of this was going to turn out. My thoughts gravitating to the worst-case scenario, the potential death of my daughter, and the torrent of destruction that could be unleashed in our lives. Having nowhere else to turn, I cried out to God for the deliverance of my daughter from the hands of death. I sent out texts about our circumstances to our pastor, and a friend from nearby ECO church. We now had nothing to rely on but God’s mercy and intercessory prayer for the life of our beloved Sarah.
During the challenging weeks ahead, a few verses from Psalm 138 helped to keep my mind stayed upon the covenant love that God has for all of his children.
“On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.”
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.”
“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.”
Our covenant God was keeping his promises to our Sarah, and our entire family, by answering when we called, strengthening us as we faced life-threatening circumstances, preserving life from the outset of the health crisis, fulfilling His purposes for all of us, and not abandoning us in our time of calamity.
And He began to teach us about the love that God’s covenant people have, and demonstrate, for one another. A flood of prayer covered our daughter, and our entire family, as we were blessed by the prayers of the covenant partners in ECO that were coming from across the country. People, many of whom we had never met, lifting up our family in prayer.
Sarah has experienced a miraculous recovery. Her prayer to be home with her husband and son by Christmas was answered in ways that could only be attributed to God’s healing grace. By His grace, Sarah was able to walk into the sanctuary of our church on Christmas Eve, having been discharged from hospital care earlier that week. She has now returned to full-time work. The power of covenantal relationships was being demonstrated. First, in the relationship with our Lord, and then through our with brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35).
People of ECO, thank you for showering your love on our family through prayer. Your demonstrated love for us underscores the importance of “covenant relationships” that we are called to live in as ECO covenant partners. The covenant life cannot be lived in isolation, we desperately need one another.
We praise God for His gracious deliverance of our daughter. It has since become clear that God has not finished his sovereign, intervening work in our lives. It was recommended that a family history of brain aneurysms be considered. I was the first to learn that there was an operable aneurysm in my brain, which I have had surgically repaired. To date, four out of six of our extended family show evidence of this condition. God’s grace continues to flow.
To Him be the glory! Amen!
Elder Dave Reichelderfer
Lycoming Centre Presbyterian Church
Cogan Station, Pennsylvania