Lifted Up

     All energy drained from me as if I were unplugged.

     I had strolled into the dining room to enjoy lunch. When I eagerly lifted a spoonful of soup to my mouth, the draining feeling began. I dropped the spoon into the bowl. With the support of friends, one under each arm, I was led to the car. My husband Max rushed me to the emergency room in Cordoba, Spain, while our friend Amelia prayed and comforted me. Basic tests revealed no reason for my symptoms, which included exceptionally low blood pressure, so I was sent home with instructions to drink more water and take in more salt.

     The debilitating weakness with trembling persisted. I called our missionary doctor in the United States. He voiced concern and directed us to board the next flight to Springfield MO for further tests.

     I endured many examinations. The verdict: An MRI scan of my brain showed I’d had a minor stroke. I underwent more tests to explore its cause since my health profile indicated no risk; the cause was never determined. My enervated condition continued, accompanied by depression, a frequent symptom with stroke. The doctor told us to remain in Springfield for a year of recovery. This was a deep disappointment since we longed to return to teach our students in Spain. Max was assigned translation work of educational materials into Spanish. Later, God opened a door for him to be a professor with a mobile teaching ministry to Latin America & the Caribbean. Because of my condition, we surrendered our dream of returning to Spain and accepted the door God opened, which allowed Max to travel ten days at a time to teach while maintaining our home in Springfield.

     Recovery crept at a sloth’s pace. Sleeping, relaxing, reading, praying, increasing activity slowly… I struggled. Max, my friend Sallee, and others lovingly reminded me of the truth of God’s faithfulness. It was a long process of gaining strength and endurance as well as confidence about the future. After seven years, I was restored to full activity, which thankfully included local teaching opportunities for me.

     I learned over those years to trust that Jesus will lead me to meaningful work and relationships no matter my physical limitations. Hope is always present. At times, it’s difficult to perceive. Life requires hopeful persistence, perseverance, and prayer as well as encouraging support.

     The Lifeline of Hope, Jesus Christ, is always present when circumstances seem overwhelming and impossible; we need only turn toward Him and walk with Him.

Sylvia L Rivera