by Faith Connovich
There is a song by Matt Papa that always moves me. The verse says:
Praise the Lord
His mercy is more
Stronger than darkness
New every morn’
Our sins they are many
His mercy is more
This past February, I woke up in Belize. I had never been on an out-of-country mission trip before, so I was thanking God for allowing me this opportunity to serve. My husband and I were with a group of medical staff serving for ten days. It was hot. The clinic had no air-conditioning, and the lines of people were long. I felt ready for the day. I had prayed, read God’sword, and was excited to serve those in need of Jesus and His love.
What I was not ready for was what happened Tuesday after lunch. I started to feel sick and nauseated. I have had stomach problems in the past, so at first, this felt like my “normal.”Unfortunately, it was different. I started throwing up out back of the hospital. They called my husband, and he took me back to my room. Finding myself sick — in another country — was one of my worst fears.
I prayed and prayed that it would just be a one-time, ‘you ate something that did not agree with you’ kind of a thing. A cycle of eating and vomiting continued for several days. I said to God in prayer, “You brought me here to serve. I need to help this team. They cannot treat all these patients without my help. I need you to put me upright and able to work.” Amazingly, I did not miss another day at the clinic, other than that Tuesday afternoon. But I found that I could not eat anything, but fruit smoothies and some crackers most of the week. And it was so hot, and I was sweating as a result, such that I knew that I was at high risk of getting dehydrated. So I drank lots of water and Gatorade.
The mission team prayed over me. The rest of the week was much of the same. Feeling too nauseated to eat, whilevomiting if I did. So I prayed more. Then I started to hear a bible verse in my mind; it kept coming to my mind over and over. I would wake up in the middle of the night, and I would hear this verse playing sweetly in my thoughts:
The Lord held me steady. He led me to a place of safety, for he delights in me. (Psalms 18:18-19; The Living Bible)
Interestingly, I do not typically read out of this version of the bible. I said, “God, I cannot go down here in Belize. Please take me home safely.” By His grace, I managed to work eight-hour days in the clinic. We had the next weekend off; it sure felt good to rest. The first day of the next week, Sunday, we woke up at 05:00 am and took a 30-minute boat trip, a 2-hour bus trip, through multiple airports, customs, and such to get home at 10:00 pm that night. I was so exhausted. One of the precious young men that went with us pulled my luggage through the airport. I had to sit down and rest often. I felt like a truck had hit me.
I told my husband, I think I need to go to the Emergency Room. My heart is fluttering and feels funny. God is so full of mercy. After running several tests and giving me IV fluids, the ER physician came in. He said, “I honestly don’t know how you walked in here. Your potassium level is a 2.0 [normal is 3.5–5.0]. I have never seen anyone that low. You could have goneinto a full cardiac arrest. You shouldn’t be standing up. You shouldn’t be here looking at me.”
I said, “Standing up? I have been serving the Lord in Belize for 10 days.” I told him, “My God is big and powerful.” He just shook his head and smiled. I was admitted to the hospital for four days, with profound dehydration and low potassium. I honestly did not know that I was in that much trouble. I just kept praying.
And I found out afterward that the ladies’ prayer group at my church, who had no idea what was going on, had my name put on their hearts. They were praying for me the whole week,not even knowing that I was sick or in trouble. God keeps His word my friends. He said that He would hold me steady and lead me to a place of safety — and He did! He brought me back to the states for hospital care. He saved my life — because He delights in me — O precious thought, O precious Savior!
I do not deserve His love or mercy, but continue to praise Him daily for all of the incredible gifts with which He showers His children. Praying all will turn to Him today. Let Him hold you steady and show you His mercy.