Anne Graham Lotz: During family crisis, here's how the Helper offered solace

As my husband Danny’s health deteriorated due to Type 1 diabetes and its complications, I stopped traveling for the most part and embraced the joy of being his caregiver for three years. On an August afternoon, he was sitting by the pool, playing with our dog, and just relaxing in the summer sun. I stayed in the house to get some work done.

Suddenly, I realized it had been over an hour since I last checked on him. I ran to the window, looked toward the pool, and saw he was not there. With relief, thinking he had come in without my awareness, I ran through the house, looking for him and calling his name. No familiar voice responded. Only silence. A deep foreboding gripped my heart as I ran back to the window and saw our dog sitting by the water’s edge. When I called to him, he refused to come. I flew down to the pool and found what I knew I would.

There are no words to describe my desperate cry for help as I jumped into the pool, pulled my husband to the steps, and cradled his head on my lap. Even as I called his name over and over, even as I cried out to God for help, I knew I was looking at a man who was already seeing his Lord. The expression on his face was one of strength, confidence and utter peace.

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What transpired next required all the Helper’s assistance to get me through: staying on the line after my emergency call to 911, EMS arriving, medics running through the backyard and dragging Danny out of my lap, news helicopters swirling overhead, sheriff’s deputies standing by the pool and guarding the property, cars filled with curious onlookers lining our street — and then the scene indelibly impressed on my mind when Danny was placed on a gurney and wheeled out of our yard as he left the house for the last time.

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In His great compassion, the Helper sent visible helpers also: a chaplain with the sheriff’s department who quietly stood by me as the EMS team worked on Danny, my son-in-law who put his arms around me as Danny was wheeled away, my children who came to sit with me in the small hospital ER waiting room, our doctor who appeared at Danny’s bedside and urged me to put my husband on life support ... just in case.

As I walked through the valley of the shadow that climaxed in Danny’s official homegoing on the morning of Aug. 19, 2015, I experienced moment by moment the quiet, gentle, loving presence of the Helper. Two days before our 49th wedding anniversary, instead of enjoying a celebratory dinner together, I buried my beloved husband.

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If I spent the rest of my book describing to you the Helper’s aid and assistance to me during that time, I would still run out of pages. He poured out His help as I found myself in the position of comforting friends and family, speaking on Aug. 21 to over one hundred men at the Bible study Danny had led, planning the service of celebration, and overseeing funeral arrangements. The incredible evidence of His supernatural help was revealed in the joy, peace, strength, and clear presence of mind that carried me through not just somehow but with absolute triumph! I will never cease to praise God for the One who "is my helper."

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Recently when I went through my mail, I came across a note from the wife of a man who had served with Danny on the national board of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Her husband had just died. She wrote that she had been his caregiver for over five years. Then she testified, “Never could I have carried the ‘thankful load’ without my dependence upon the Holy Spirit.” And I knew exactly what she meant.

What is your testimony? Whether you are a widower or a widow like me learning to live in a new reality, or a caregiver expending your life for an ailing spouse or elderly parent or disabled child, or a parent trying to raise your children to be followers of Jesus in a wicked world, or a businessperson operating according to biblical principles of integrity, or a politician walking a tightrope between truth and political correctness, or an educator teaching values along with the curriculum, or a cancer victim trying to navigate the maze of surgical options and treatments, the Helper is available to assist, aid, or furnish you with relief. I know. Just call on Him.

Excerpted from Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion. Copyright © 2019 by Anne Graham Lotz. Used by permission of Multnomah, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

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