But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The Lord is great!”
Dodging traffic and sniffing dogs, I continued the daily grind going house to house with a not so happy spirit. I was hired by a local school district to conduct its yearly census. It was not a job that I relished, but it was at least some income. Recently unemployed, I was still trying to figure out what to do with my life. I was too young to retire, but trying to start a new career was terrifying. I needed to generate some income to help meet our financial obligations. Out of need, I agreed to take this employment for the stipend it would pay. I never expected a lesson awaited me.
It was one of those woe-is-me days when I met her. She was a woman about my age. When she came to the door, it was obvious that something was wrong. She was very cheerful but could not seem to get words out of her mouth. Through careful listening and questioning, I was able to ascertain that the woman recently experienced a massive stroke and was suffering with aphasia, a residual affect that often follows what is commonly called a stroke. The person afflicted has difficulty recalling words, and sometimes one word is substituted for another. Symptoms may disappear as the body heals, but often this condition is irreversible.
As an experienced medical social worker, I was familiar with the affects of aphasia and had gained the skills to communicate with those afflicted. Consequently, I was not startled by her inability to speak in distinguishable syntax. I reassured her that together we could come to an understanding, and she invited me into her home. Through stammers, misused words, and speech that resembled a toddler’s, she explained her recent stroke and the extensive surgery that followed. She bent her head to reveal a six-inch scar as evidence of the veracity of her story.
“I not to live!” She expressed the opinion that no one expected her to recover from the ordeal.
She survived against the odds and was pleased to show me how well she was walking. She rejoiced in the gains she made each day. I was amazed at her upbeat persona in the face of all she endured. She was still a relatively young woman to be so regressed but exclaimed with a smile that would light a thousand candles,
“God—good! Better me than dead!”
What wisdom. I wished she could preach that message to the world. But it was what I needed to hear that day. No matter what tragedy comes our way, we can still be grateful that we are alive. Problems are inevitable and may throw us into turmoil. But as long as we have breath, they will not defeat us.
God sends his angels and his messages in many different forms. This day he chose to speak to me through a charming disabled woman. And I was glad for it. I was glad to say with her, “Better me than dead!”