A funny thing happened in 2019 as I began to serve a new congregation in South Carolina.
The day after I preached my second sermon, I did not feel too good. By Tuesday, I was slurring my speech and had no energy. On Wednesday, I was dragged to urgent care, which is a misnomer. After three hours, they sent me to the regional hospital that, after another few hours, sent me home with a bandage and some prednisone. I could not eat anything, and I continued to go downhill. Early Friday morning, I had trouble breathing. My wife called a friend who came right over to take us to a hospital in Charleston. God, where are you?
words + photographs PASTOR BRUCE KREUTZER
When they tried to give me an MRI, I could not breathe, so they intubated me. They had me sedated, but I was fighting it. When I woke up in the intensive care unit, I realized with terror I could not open my eyes or talk. Help me, Lord. Then a kind doctor approached me. He gently explained I had an autoimmune crisis, but he was confident I would recover.
My nurse helped me settle in. I had very limited use of my body, and I was frustrated I could not communicate except for some simple hand gestures. Lord, help! My nurse offered a notebook to see if I could write something. I could, but could they read it?
I am very thankful for all my caregivers. I had all sorts of monitors on me, with sirens blaring. A machine took my blood pressure automatically every 15 minutes; the cuff was so tight it hurt. I realized the crisis was God reminding me He would never let me go. Even in pain, there was comfort knowing though I walk through the valley of death, I need not be afraid.
I chose to look closely for what God was doing instead of focusing on the difficulties I was facing.
Then a remarkable event happened. Amy, one of my physical therapists, asked if I wanted to walk. I gave a thumbs up, but I wondered how walking would be possible. She helped me move around my room a bit and said, “Tomorrow, you will be walking in the hallway in front of all the doctors and nurses.”
They cheered me on a few steps at a time. What a glorious feeling. Thanks be to God.
As I reflected on my experience, I thought about the optimist who sees the glass as half full, rather than half empty. Even though I was in a tough spot, I had so much to be thankful for. I chose to look closely for what God was doing instead of focusing on the difficulties I was facing. Although my ICU journey lasted five weeks, God gave me grace one day at a time. It was not easy, but I knew God’s grace was sufficient for me. And God is good all the time. BK
Bruce Kreutzer is the pastor of Hope Lutheran Church in Vance, South Carolina. He and his wife, Marie, met in Vietnam, where they taught English. They enjoy hiking and playing with their grandchildren.
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