On August 11, 2000, I woke up in ICU. The nurse told me I had experienced a ruptured appendix, and that I was lucky to be alive. Little did I know that what started with flu-like symptoms just a few days earlier, would be turning into a 21-day hospital stay with multiple complications and several serious surgeries.
The day before my second surgery, my doctor had an honest conversation with me and my family. He confessed that they didn’t know for sure why my body wasn’t responding to the first surgery and my treatment. There were no guarantees that the second surgery would help, and not waking up from my surgery was a possibility I needed to be aware of.
Just two months earlier, I had graduated from high school and had spent my summer working, celebrating, and spending time with friends. I was 17, and three weeks away from starting college. And now, having to face the uncertainty of this second surgery led me to ask difficult questions that no teenager should have to ask:
“Will I ever get to go to college and travel?”
“Will I ever get married and have kids?”
“What if this is the end?”
“What will my friends and family do without me?”
“How will I have the courage to say “goodbye” to my family and enter the operating room alone?
Later that evening, while wrestling with these fears and questions, I asked a family member to read me a portion of 1 Corinthians 15:
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died of our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. [1 Corinthians 15:3-4a].
This passage struck me in an unexpected way. I didn’t find any comfort in knowing that Jesus had been raised from the dead, and that if I died during my surgery I would “wake up in heaven” or “join Jesus in his resurrection”.
What brought me comfort was the reality that Jesus died and was buried.
In that moment I knew that if all of the Bible stuff I had been learning was somehow true, that the God who made me had also faced the same fears I was facing and had experienced the worst of what I might have to experience. My fear and anxiety eased to sense of comfort—not because of the Christian belief of what might happen after death—but because of the truth that I wouldn’t experience suffering and death alone.
Written as part of Mars Hill Bible Church’s Lent Series