The Joy of the Lord
One of the greatest miracles I experienced happened when we were in transition...My husband Bob was waiting on acceptance into the Alaska State Troopers and had taken a couple of part time jobs in the interim. One of them was working as a janitor at a couple of churches we knew.
He hadn't been at work long when I received a phone call from him. "Honey, please come and get me...I think I need to go to the hospital, something is not right with my heart."
Almost in a panic, I drove quickly to the church and in record time we were in the emergency room at the Air Force base hospital. Immediately, he was escorted out of my presence into waiting hands and later the doctor came to report that he had admitted him into intensive care.
I was shocked...stunned. What was this? What was happening? My mind was racing with unanswered questions. But I had learned that when such things occurred, to "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord". However, at that time, I was still a novice at that and like most folks, I was in despair. Would he live? What were we to do?
Later, I left the hospital and drove home to the boys. The apartment felt so empty...I felt so alone. But the next morning, I returned to visit him and the doctor met me in the hallway and said, "Mrs. Adams, I need to show you something" and he pulled out a long EKG strip. "You see this long, straight line? Last night your husband died, but we were able to get his heart started again and he seems stable now." Died? I could not believe what I was hearing!
Suddenly, I began to shake uncontrollably and tears were falling down my cheeks. I ran out of the building in a state of shock, and not wanting to display my emotions, I went back to my car in the parking lot and got behind the wheel. There I let it all out...I roared with the pain of absolute distress. How could all of this be happening? Where was God?
After some time, I heard these words: "You sing a little chorus in church called, "The Joy of the Lord" Why are you not singing it now?"
I was stunned. WHAT WAS THIS? THE JOY OF THE LORD?? How could I sing such a song at this moment? So I answered the voice: "I cannot sing that song...for I have no joy! It would be hypocritical!"
"Sing it anyway" the voice urged.
"No! I cannot" I replied, weeping.
"Sing it, Mary...sing it anyway" was the response.
That would be impossible I thought. And why would God ask me to do such a thing? Didn't he see how distraught I was? But somehow, I knew it was God talking to me. For whatever reason, He was doing what He usually does...the total opposite of what I would think was proper. So after a long pause, I gripped my hands on the steering wheel and in between my sobs and tears, I began to sing that little chorus.
"The joy of the Lord (weep) is my strength. (boo-hoo) The joy of the Lord is my strength (more crying). The joy of the Lord is my strength (tears), the joy of the Lord is my strength."
Over and over again I tried singing that little chorus, and the more I did, the stronger I got...until finally I was singing it to the top of my lungs! If you had passed by and seen me, you would have thought I was a crazy woman. But I felt such a force of power and joy come over me, it was incredible! It occurred to me that the presence of the Holy Spirit had come to comfort me...and it had done just that!
After I composed myself, I went back into the hospital and visited with my husband, then drove home to the responsibilities there. But somehow, I had an uncanny feeling that God was up to His usual/unusual ways and I was about to witness another miracle.
Dear friends, life is full of trauma, of unexpected calamities. But if Jesus says He will go with us, even through the shadow of death...will he not also be there when we feel so alone?
The next morning I went back to the hospital. The doctor met me again. "Mrs. Adams, your husband has improved dramatically, so I am going to let him go home with you today, but he is not to drive or work for six weeks." I was overjoyed and took Bob back home with me that day. As we drove along, we discussed the situation...it would be imperative that I look for a job right away. Financially, we had to have the extra income to supplement his retirement pay. So that night we held hands and prayed for God to help us.
The next morning, God spoke to me. "Get Bob in the car and drive down to Anchorage...I will show you where to go". I told Bob what I had heard, and so we both obeyed. Not knowing the downtown area at all, I could not have had any way to end up on a certain street, but suddenly (again) the Lord pointed me to a building and said, "See that building? Park the car and go inside it." I looked. There was a big sign that said, "Alaska Employment Agency." I got excited! Maybe there was a job for me! And so I pulled into the parking lot and left Bob there and started across the street.
Again, the Lord spoke. "When you open the door, there will be a large table with a big book on it. It is already open...just look at the pages" was my instructions. So I opened the doors, and there, indeed, was a large black book already opened. I walked up to it and viewed the pages on either side. On the left side was a job description for a keypunch operator. I HAD BEEN A KEYPUNCH OPERATOR WHEN I LIVED IN CALIFORNIA! Then I looked to the right at the next page. It was a job offer for a STOCK CONTROL SUPERVISOR. BOB HAD HELD THAT VERY POSITION IN THE AIR FORCE!!
Stunned, I was shaking when I entered the office and handed the woman the two job numbers.
"Are these two jobs still available?" I asked.
"Yes, they are...and they are both at the same place, ITT. Here...I will give you referral slips and you can go over there right now!" she replied.
I took the applications and ran outside across the street and excitedly told Bob what had happened. We were both astounded...was this coincidental, or...was this God doing a miracle?
After arriving at ITT, we went inside and Bob handed the receptionist the two applications. She looked at mine, then asked, "have you eaten lunch?" I said no, and then she replied, "Go, eat your lunch and come back...I need you right away. You have the job!" JUST LIKE THAT!!
I was shaking...what a miracle! Then she looked at Bob. "Sir, there are several men applying for the supervisory job, but you can go and take a physical exam and make application and then we will later choose one of you."
Bob and I looked at each other. He had just gotten out of the hospital with orders not to drive, much less work. But we said nothing. I went for my lunch, and Bob went to the doctor's. Later that evening, Bob picked me up from work.
"Honey, that doctor said she could not pass me for the job....insurance, you know."
"Oh well, we will make it...at least I have a good job now," I replied. But something was puzzling to me...why had God arranged it that BOTH of us were apparently on those pages? How could that happen that way? And so, that night as we lay in bed, we held hands again and prayed.
"Lord, thank you for Bob being out of the hospital. Thank you for my job. And thank you for Bob's job...if this is the job you want him to have, we rejoice. If not, we rejoice also, for you have only the best for us."
The next day, I returned to work. When I came home, Bob was looking very funny.
"What happened?" I asked him.
"You will never believe this" he replied. "That doctor called me this morning and said, Mr. Adams, I could not sleep all night thinking about you. I have changed my mind. I am going to pass you after all!"
Well, Bob got that job, after all the competition. And he and I worked at ITT for a year until his appointment with the State Troopers came through. He never had any problems again with his heart until many years later. And God miraculously provided us with good jobs in a time when we needed it so badly.
But I sometimes wonder...what if, even in the midst of my lake of tears and a fearful heart, I had not swallowed all my excuses and sung that little chorus?