Faith in the Valley

 
Jimmy and Jean Jackson are two of our newer members of Bethel. Jimmy is a retired plumber and building inspector for Chesterfield County.  Jean worked as an office manager and bookkeeper for an insurance agency in Goochland.  They’ve been married 63 years and have one daughter.  The Jackson’s are very committed to our Lord, in fact, Jimmy has been on 17 mission trips and Jean has been on 16 trips all over the world.
 
One very interesting part of their testimony is Jimmy was in hospice care for nearly three months and the Lord healed him.  I don’t believe I know anyone who has gone into hospice care only to be completely healed, but Jimmy is one such person. 
 
His entry into hospice care began on March 19, 2015 when he went for an outpatient procedure to remove a stone from his bile duct.  When he returned home he  had severe pains which ended up being pancreatitis. The condition got worse and he was admitted to ICU with septic shock.  Jimmy says, “I was out of it.  I have no memory of my time in ICU those first few days.”  In addition to the septic shock he had kidney failure, Atrial Fibrillation and was placed on a ventilator.  He spent 10 days in ICU then transferred to progressive care for several weeks.  Jean did her best to help manage his care and at one  point she became very concerned that he wasn’t progressing fast enough. 
 
She asked the doctor what could be done and the doctor told her, “Frankly Mrs. Jackson I didn’t think he was going  to make it out of ICU!” Eventually he improved enough to be sent  to Sheltering Arms.  While he was in rehabilitation he developed blood clots in his legs. Rehab was slow, but there was incremental progress and he was eventually sent to a long term care facility.  He was there for two weeks and he started to decline rapidly. 
 
At one point Jimmy lost his voice and was so weak that he said, “I prayed to die and go home to Jesus. I’d wake up in the morning and I was actually disappointed to be alive.  I hurt so bad.”  Since the Lord wasn’t answering his prayers, he thought he’d help the Lord along by refusing to take his medication.  He talked to a pastor about his decision and the pastor told him, “Jimmy, if the Lord wants you he’ll call you.  He doesn’t need anyone to volunteer to die.” So Jimmy took his medication, but was still very weak.  Jean said,  “I didn’t know where to turn.  I relied on other people.  I talked to  my pastor at the time and he put me in touch with a hospice worker.” 
 
He was evaluated for hospice care and was admitted to hospice care on May 22, 2015.  Jimmy would receive this care from home.  Once Jimmy got home he was so excited to be there that he actually began to feel better.  He started eating and getting out of bed on his own.  It took him several days to get strong enough to walk up the landing to his steps.  He continued trying to walk up the stairs.  After two weeks of hard work, he made it to the top of the stairs. He actually got strong enough to cut grass while he was in hospice!  Jimmy did say that he was so weak it took him two hands to turn the steering wheel on the lawn mower.  Finally, after nearly three months, the doctors realized that Jimmy was being healed and he was taken out of Hospice care in August.
 
I asked Jimmy and Jean to reflect on this time in their lives  and  how it impacted their faith.  Jean said, “Jimmy’s time in hospice increased my faith immensely.  I trusted the Lord before, but now I’m more conscious of trusting the Lord.  It used to be I didn’t think about trusting the Lord, now I think about it more and I think about how God surrounds you with His love and care.” Jimmy said, “The Lord has been good to me.
 
During that time I relied on Psalm 23:4, ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.’  I felt like I walked through the valley of the shadow of death.  Thy rod and staff were people who comforted me and prayed for me and helped me in the work that needed to be done.  I guess one thing I learned from being sick is that it has given me a great compassion for those who are sick. I do think about death more because I came so close to dying. This has certainly made me more grateful. 
 
The other thing is I guess the Lord has left me here for something.” I asked him if he knew what that “something” was?  Jimmy said, “No, not really, it’s something I don’t understand, but one thing I do know is that God still works miracles.”  I’d like to offer Jimmy an answer to his question. I believe the Lord left him here to do exactly what he’s doing.  Jimmy and Jean are declaring the praises of God and offering testimony to the goodness of God. 
 
They continue to serve God and share with others all that God has done for them. In fact, Jimmy is scheduled to give his testimony to the WMU on June 7th at 10 am at Bethel.  You’re invited to come and listen on the 7th. I know Jimmy’s testimony will bless you.  I offer you Jimmy and Jean’s testimony hoping that we can be reminded of important life truths; truths that sometimes take a tragedy to reveal. 
 
Here’s the truth: God is good.  God can be trusted. God has a plan. Faith is central. Let’s lean into these truths and live our lives as an offering to the Lord.  Let’s serve Him by serving others and practice the presence of God in all we do. 
 
May God continue to bless Jimmy and Jean Jackson and may God continue to bless our Bethel Church Family. 
 
Amen. 
 
Todd
 
 
 

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