Hope For Those Who Hurt, by Howard and Jeanne Tomlinson

Chapter 26 -

How do you handle the whirlwinds of life without plunging into despair? There is a place of peace, and it's in the eye of the storm.

Monday, August 10, 1998, turned out to be a "good news, bad news" day for us. Howie had a routine follow-up MRI in the morning. At noon, he received a letter from his department on the Long Island Railroad telling him that he had been chosen to be "Employee of the Month" for July and would be receiving a plaque for the fourth time in two years!

In the afternoon, there was a message on our answering machine from Dr. Beatrice Engstrand, Howie's neurologist, asking us to call her right away. When we called, she told us that the MRI scan from that morning showed that Howie had a large recurrent tumor. We were stunned since it had only been 10 months since his third brain surgery. Dr. Engstrand told us to contact neurosurgeon Dr. David Chalif immediately.

When we called Dr. Chalif's office, his secretary told us in was not in and his schedule was booked. In the meantime, Dr. Engstrand got through to him. Dr. Chaliff wanted us to see him the next day with the MRIs. When we met with him, he told us that there appeared to be a significant regrowth of the tumor, and he needed to operate that week. He made an appointment for Howie to be admitted to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset that very afternoon (Tuesday) and scheduled surgery for Friday, August 14th.

Even though we felt like we were spinning out of control in a whirlwind that suddenly appeared in our lives, God placed us in the eye of the storm and gave us His peace. We contacted family and friends and asked everyone to pray for Howie. I stayed with him in the hospital and returned home only to sleep. Friends and family reached out to help. Karen did our laundry and gave Howie a fruit basket. Howie's Dad and Mom visited him in the hospital each day and paid for my meals and hospital parking. Many friends of relatives called and sent cards and emails. Facing another surgery felt like deja vu (Yogi Berra' s quote) all over again, but we knew God was in control and holding Howie in His loving arms.

As he was being wheeled into the operating room for his fourth brain surgery, Howie felt calm and quoted Scripture to encourage me. While in the waiting room, I prayed the Psalms again with his name inserted in the verses. Following surgery, Dr. Chalif met with Howie's folks, brother Cliff and me and told us that the surgery had been difficult but successful. What had appeared to be a large tumor was actually a large fluid-filled cyst with two small tumors inside! Dr. Chalif told us we could see Howie for a few minutes. As we walked in the recovery room, he greeted us cheerfully and quoted Scripture, showing his memory was still strong. When he told us his head was aching, we hurt for him. But we were thankful Howie was alert and able to move his limbs. The Lord and Dr. Chalif had come through again his behalf!

Over the next couple of days, we shared our testimony and story Hope For Those Who Hurt with nurses, hospital staff and other patients. Howie had several visitors, including Joyce and Andy, Pastor Rich, and our friend Dr. Raymond Damadian, the inventor of the Open MRI.

What started out to be a joyful week for us with Howie's good news from work suddenly changed with the whirlwind that hit. If the Lord hadn't placed us in the eye of the storm, we would've been devastated by the winds. But He gave us His peace when we needed it the most.

When storms threaten to overwhelm us, we need to look to the Lord and seek His peace. It also helps to count the blessings that come our way. When Jeremiah was lamenting the terrible destruction of his beloved city Jerusalem, he penned these words: "Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed; because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning, great is Thy faithfulness. 'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'Therefore I hope in Him'" (Lamentations 3:23,24).

FOR THOSE WHO HURT: No matter what storms come your way, there is always an eye where you can find peace. Call out to God and rest in His care. And don't forget to count your blessings. When you do, troubles will not appear quite as overwhelming. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6,7).

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