A Tumor, a Setback, and a Renewed Mind

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When faced with the trials God allows in our lives, we can choose to respond with gratitude, love and obedience through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I have a renewed mind. On all sorts of levels—physically, spiritually, practically—God has renewed my mind. And it's been quite a journey.

A Frightening Discovery

About fifteen years ago, when I was a twenty-three year-old newlywed, I was diagnosed with a benign tumor in the center of my brain. I had successful surgery to remove that tumor, but the fluid in my brain never relearned how to move around. So shortly after that original surgery, I had to have a shunt implanted in my brain to drain the fluid.

About seven years later, when the first three of my four children were wee babes, that first shunt failed in dramatic fashion, and I had a second shunt implanted in an emergency surgery. Fast forward another seven years to this past summer and that second shunt was showing signs that it was about to fail. My husband, kids, and I were so thankful for a planned, non-emergency surgery and looked forward to a straightforward recovery. So in September I received my third shunt, but a straightforward recovery was not God's answer.

An Unexpected Complication

Shortly after surgery I had a complication—a significant brain bleed. Thankfully, I did not need to go back into surgery to have the blood drained, but I did spend a couple days in the ICU to make sure it was beginning to drain on its own before I went home.

As good as it was to be there, I felt pretty bad the first couple of weeks. And while I thought I was thinking clearly because I could function "in the moment," as time went on, I began to realize how much I was struggling to make mental connections and how much I didn't remember from those early weeks.

An Unexpected Blessing

As I was striving to get back to my usual activities, I found myself exhausted and often overwhelmed by multitasking. I needed to literally "pray without ceasing" for the strength, mental clarity, understanding, energy, and hope to get through each day. At first, my prayers included a desperate cry for God to restore my mind and thinking. Then, a few things hit me.

1. First, God didn't have to restore my mind. 
There is no biblical promise that assures me good health and a functioning mind. But there are promises straight from my Savior that I will have comfort (2 Cor. 1:3–4), peace (Isa. 48:18), as well as assure me that God is almighty, all-knowing (Rev. 1:8), and His Word is true (2 Tim. 3:16–17).

And those things are true whether I can fully comprehend them or not.

2. I also realized I shouldn't want things restored to the way they were. 
As much as I wanted my old mind back, I failed to realize that there was plenty of sin and wrong thinking in there before. Instead, my prayer became, "Lord, please renew my mind and rebuild it the way you want it."

Mercifully and graciously, He did. Not quickly, not without a few months of significant physical and mental fatigue, and not without setbacks and frustrations.

He didn't have to restore me. He would still be good and right and faithful if He chose not to. But God, in His mercy, chose to show Himself through healing and renewing my mind. And He changed me through the suffering I endured.

A Grateful Response

My response? Immeasurable gratitude and revived purpose. When faced with the trials and pain God allows in our lives, we can choose to respond with gratitude, love, service, and obedience through the power of the Holy Spirit. We can choose to focus on what God is doing in and through us in the midst of the difficulties that may be happening to us. Suffering may just be the path to becoming newly fueled to love, serve, and obey your Savior and Sustainer.

How will you respond to God in the midst of the difficulties you're facing?

By Heidi Jo Fulk

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