by Canon Cate Edmonds
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Over the last few months, this verse has become even more a reality to me. I make no apology for this being a very personal reflection. Nearly four months ago my husband, Paul, was suddenly struck down with sepsis and spent almost ten weeks in hospital fighting for his life. The prognosis was not good, but I will not go into all the medical details. Many of those weeks and especially the twenty-one days he was in and out of Intensive Care, it really did feel like the valley of the shadow of death. Watching someone you love filled with tubes and the constant bleep of machines, the hushed voices and distressing conversation was tough.
However, I had a rod and staff, which comforted me. As I sat hour after hour holding my husband’s hand and willing him to fight I prayed. I knew also and am deeply thankful for all those who joined me in prayer. However, my prayer took an interesting form. As I sat there, I ran through all the amazing healing miracles of Jesus Christ. I prayed through those stories of healing. The Centurion’s beloved servant who Jesus healed remotely, Peter’s mother in law healed of a high fever, as fever raged through Paul. The blind man who called out, just as I was calling out on my husband’s behalf for healing. The healing of the lepers when his skin looked so sallow, the cessation of the issue of blood of the unnamed woman, when Paul too had a bleed that would not stop. In his delirium, I prayed that like the Gerasene demonic Christ would heal him casting out the negative energy. When he would not wake up after his drug-induced sleep, the story of Tabitha would not leave me, the words changed to “Paul get up”, praying that he, like her, would with Christ’s help “open her/his eyes”. Later, when conscious, the lack of strength in his muscles prevented him from even sitting up, I prayed that like the lame man at Bethsaida whom Peter healed, Paul would gain strength in his muscles.
Happily, Paul is now home and on the long road of rehabilitation. The road may feel a bit like a tunnel but there is a bright light shining ahead. That light is the light of Christ shining for us, giving us strength, and we are deeply thankful.
Christ’s rod and staff certainly comforted me, and they led us both out of the valley of the shadow of death for which we will be eternally thankful. I am grateful for those stories of Christ’s miracles and so grateful that through them I never gave up hope. May we all through faith in Christ and attention to the Scriptures continue to find that rod and staff of comfort.