A Peace that Passes Understanding

The Christmas season is a time of year that brings great joy for many people, but it can also trigger severe depression or hopelessness in many. Surrounded by the joy of others, some people (including Christians) respond with increasing despair as they confront some physical, emotional or financial stress from which they see no escape. The celebration of Christmas only serves to magnify their sadness.

As Christians, we know there is no problem in this life too big for the Lord to solve or salve, yet how quickly we can forget this truth when faced with a test of our faith. So in the hope of encouraging someone during these holidays, I'm sharing the following article submitted by Helen Norvell, a follower of Verse By Verse Ministry International.

Helen relates her experience of facing a trial with the peace that comes from knowing the Lord and living with eyes for eternity. I hope it inspires someone to look past their difficulties and to rest in the hope and confidence found in Jesus Christ.

As I was listening to a Pastor on TV today, I was inspired to tell the story of a time in my life when I received from God, such comfort that it is beyond understanding. Let’s just say it is beyond the understanding of an unbeliever, and even some believers.

The Scripture used in the sermon was 2Cor. 1: 3-11

3:  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, The Father of mercies and God of all comfort. 4: who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  5: For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.  6:  But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; 7: and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.  8: For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9: indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10: who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope.  And He will deliver us, 11: you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.

Here’s my experience of God’s comfort to me and my husband.

In 1996 I was in church. We were just being seated after the first hymn. As I was sitting, I just fell over to the side.  My dear husband reached over and pulled me back up.  I was disoriented and had a horrific headache. We came home and I went to bed. I was experiencing double vision and the headache persisted. However, Monday morning I was back at work. After banging into file cabinets and walls for a while, a friend suggested I go see her doctor. This doctor ordered a CAT scan that was to be done on Saturday. Things began to move rather quickly from here.

Monday morning I was back at work. I have to insert here that we were not allowed to receive personal calls at work. If you did receive one, it was announced over the intercom. I had no problem with this since I only used the phone to call the hubby at noon for a quick hello.  To my amazement the intercom comes on and there’s a call for Helen on line two. Funny how I can remember which line it was.

To my surprise it was the doctor himself calling.  He is telling me I have a huge aneurysm in my brain.  Now I have to tell you, at this point I didn’t even know what an aneurysm was.  I asked him if it was serious.  Yes, indeed, very serious. He contacted a neurosurgeon to inquire about my case.  I am to call him for an appointment.  Before I could get off the phone with him, on comes the intercom again, “call for Helen, line three."

I’m in trouble now! I hang up with the doctor and go answer the other phone.  It’s the neurosurgeon. He says I have a giant aneurysm in my brain and he wants to see me on Wednesday.

First thing I wanted to do was talk to my husband. He knew all about aneurysms. He told me if it ruptured, I would be dead in three minutes.  My friend also knew all about them. From the moment I knew what is was and what it could do, the most wonderful blanket of comfort spread over my husband and me. This is the comfort received from God.

It is amazing how fast news can spread through an office.  Everyone knew about it in just minutes.  Everyone was so sympathetic and caring.  My boss came out to me and told me I could go home.  I said, “No, I am fine”.

The pastor I had heard on TV said it wasn’t like God wrapped you in a blanket and sat down in a rocking chair and comforted you, but I am telling you that’s exactly what it was like for me.  God deals with His children in different ways and this is how He dealt with me.  He also gave me the faith to believe that no matter what the doctors said, I would not die.

The news only got worse from here. I went to see the neurosurgeon. The first thing he said was, “You have a giant aneurysm on your left optical nerve and if it ruptures, it is terminal.”  I, at no time during the whole episode believed that it would rupture. If God wanted me dead, all He had to do was give it a little thump and I would be with Him. I believe that God is in control of every aspect of my life.   believed He had a purpose for the work He was doing in me.  As it turned out, He used my situation to touch many lives.

Before I tell you of some of the people it touched, I’ll continue with more of the story. 

After having many tests, some very painful, my doctor told me he could not fix me because the aneurysm was too big. He would have to send me out of state to a specialist. I would need a team of doctors. So, off I go to see the specialist.  He said not only do I have one giant aneurysm, but I have three; two on the left optical nerve and a small one on the right optical nerve. He thinks he can fix two on the left, but can’t fix the right one. So even after surgery I will still have an aneurysm. I would probably be blind at least in the left eye. I had high chances of being paralyzed, or just not right in the head, if I survived the surgery.

As I said, I had the comfort and peace of God blanketing my husband and me.  At no time did I believe any of this was going to happen.

I kept on working for three months prior to leaving for the surgery. My co-workers were amazed that I was not afraid.  God used this season as a witness to His love and grace. I was happy to share. No one wanted to stay close to me for very long because they all expected me to drop dead at their feet.  I kept on with a joy in my heart. I knew that God had a plan.  One lady in particular wanted to know if I was scared. I told her no. I believed that God would take care of the whole thing, but if He chose to take me on the operating table, then I’m at home with Him, and it just doesn’t get any better than that. There were many that I witnessed to, but I won’t take up the space to tell all.

I’m not going to tell you it wasn’t rough, because it was. While in ICU, the nurses thought they might lose me. I remember my family coming in and all I could say was pray. We held hands and prayed.  The next thing I remember was walking down the hallway to my private room. I won’t say that I didn’t suffer because I did.  But, my Lord and Savior was with me all the way.  He never left me for a moment.

I had an outpouring of love from my church family, friends and people I didn’t even know. Such encouragement! These are the people God brought into the work He was doing in me. I live in a very small town. I think almost everyone knew and helped me with caring words and prayer.

I take no credit for any of this. God poured out His grace, His faith and His love on me, which are all special gifts from Him. My prayer is for the comfort I received from Christ during this time of trial and pain in my life will flow out to someone who is also experiencing any kind of pain or trial in his or her life.  May God’s comfort flow powerfully out to you. Be sharers of the comfort that God comforted me with.

As an after note, He did fix all three of the aneurysms. I recovered 100 percent, and was back at work in two months. 

Praise His Holy Name!

Helen Norvell