my circumstances have changed :: my god has not

June 11, 2010

** NOTE:  This was originally posted last year, June 11, 2010. **


Hmmm.  It seems I break all the medical norms.  All of them.  Sometimes it is a good thing to be the exception to the rule.  Today it wasn’t.

Back in March of this year I posted about my historyof heart failure, starting with the diagnosis of cardiomyopathy (a weakening and enlargement of the heart) most likely due to a viral attack.  In September of 2007 I went into the ER and into intensive care with my heart functioning at about 25%.  After a week in the hospital and new medication, I settled in for the long haul at about 50% normal function.  Until I broke the medical norm, and I experienced what I believe was a miraculous healing.  Back to full function.  100%.

When a heart that is not supposed to regenerate actually does, cardiologists debate the next step.  Most will tell you that they no longer treat those patients with oral medication.  My doctor would say the same.  As of September of this last year, I have been off all oral meds for my heart.

The past few months, however, I’ve been re-experiencing some of those same early symptoms – especially difficulty breathing when I lay down, and a persistent cough.  So, on May 23, I went in and had an EKG that showed some “non-specific abnormality.”  No acute danger.  No irregular rhythm.  But a little bit janky, nonetheless.  So it was back on the meds for me.  And an echocardiogram was scheduled.

That happened this morning.

The results showed that my heart is once again functioning at about 25% of normal capacity.  This wasn’t supposed to happen.  Medically, it’s a head-scratcher.  And how does that jive with the “miracle healing” I thought I had experienced?  And what does this all say about my God?  Was this all just a mistake?  What’s the deal?

From the start, and to the end, here is what is true:

God can heal me any day.  God can do anything he wants in me, and through me.  God is absolutely sovereign and radiantly good.  My life is charted for me by HIM ALONE, I have nothing to fear.  Not a day longer or shorter than what He has chosen for me in advance.  He is my sustainer.  He gives me purpose and hope.  My strength is in the JOY I have in knowing Him.  My security for eternity is written in His Book of Life.  My family is secure in Him, and we have an eternal future together with Him.  There is nothing on earth like life in Christ.  And no circumstance can shake Him from His foundation:  Holiness, righteousness, justice, love, mercy, unending power, sovereignty, might, goodness, purity, authority, majesty, and unfathomable kindness that knows every hair on my head.

So did God heal me or not?  I think so.  I don’t know.  But He gets the credit for every good turn in my life, so let’s agree – yes He did.  Did He allow this weakening of my heart?  Maybe.  He’s good no matter what.  And I trust Him with my remaining heartbeats.

God calls us to depend on him.  I know what it means to live that way.  Right now I can feel my chest cavity in a way I bet you are not used to.  I’m aware of every minute right now.  Fully alive.  Sustained.  Are you dependant like that?

I’ll answer that for you… Yes. You may not feel it.  But every heartbeat is a gift from God.

So now what?  Well, I take my meds.  Every day.  That’s OK.  I pray for healing.  And I get stronger.  That is the way forward, and that’s what I’m going to do.  I have five sons to raise and I’m heading to seminary in the fall.  I pray that God puts me to work for years to come.  And I live in faith.

Sometimes it is a good thing to be the exception to the rule.  I know what that feels like.  But when you’re the exception, and it’s not a good thing… God is still good.  His character is my bedrock.

NOTE:  I’m leaving early in the morning for a week with the family in Hilton Head, SC, and will NOT be responding to the comments here.  I’d love to hear from you, but I’ll get back to technology on June 20.  Then, I’ll get back to ALL of you.  God bless.


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Psalm 24:7 & Luke 10:42 >> Like David, and Mary, I'm in pursuit of my one thing. I'm the Pastor at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Montgomery, IL. Pastor, teacher, writer, communicator, designer, and drummer. I definitely got the better deal in my marriage to Amy. And I couldn't be any more proud of my five amazing boys. Deeply grateful.

16 responses to my circumstances have changed :: my god has not

  1. Praising God for your life, Josh! You’re an incredible witness to Christ, and a great example to so many…including myself. Praying for you! God bless you guys on your trip. We’ll miss the Skogerboes! 🙂

    • Hey my friend! Thanks for your kind words. Now that I’m back from the coast I have a chance to respond to everybody… I appreciate the prayers and the encouragement so much. Looking forward to working with you more and more for Living Hope! God bless you and the whole Martin crew.

  2. Wow – very shocked to hear this Josh. I was rejoicing with you when the last good news came, but now I rejoice at what you have posted. You are testifying of the glory of God. When I was reading your post I thought about this clip: God bless you, continue to heal you, and use you for his glory! – Steve

    • Steve – thanks a ton for the encouragement brother. I loved the clip you posted. And I buy this truth with all of my life and all of my heart: “God IS most glorified in me when I am most SATISFIED in Him – alone.” Amen and amen. Because God is sovereign, He can heal me, or not. But He is good. He is good. He is good.

  3. Wow Josh. I never heard about this the first go-round. Nothing profound to say, and it wouldn’t matter anyway. Your priorities are right-on. Love your attitude. You’re an inspiration. If there’s anything we can do for you long-distance, let me know.

    Keep us posted.
    You are in our prayers.

    • Hey Scott – I’m finally able to get back to you and all my friends here on the interwebs. Thanks for your support and prayers. I’ve been in heart-failure junction before. I was the Mayor for awhile. And then my heart was restored. No reason God can’t do that again if He desires it. I’m literally in His hands. So, yes… prayers on my behalf – for the sake of my family and ongoing ministry – would always be deeply appreciated. I know He hears and listens and responds. Always. He may say “NO” and He may say “YES” and He may say “WAIT.” But I know He hears our prayers. Thanks again brother. God bless you, too.

  4. Paul Johnston Sr June 12, 2010 at 12:11 am

    Josh: So sorry to hear of your health problems. You will be in our prayers. I so appreciate your attitude and faith during this valley experience in your life. Josh, I am just about a stone’s throw away from turning sixty years old. Time has flown by. It is not unusual for one generation to say of the next one coming up behind it, “I just don’t know about this new generation.” I say the same thing only with great pride and comfort knowing the quality of leadership I have seen displayed in the lives of two much younger men. I know you only from the internet but sense the common bond of the Spirit in your words and attitudes.There is another young man whom I know personally whose journey over the past couple months has been inspiring. Your attitudes are both forged in the same furnace. There was nothing special about him as a little fellow who sat in my class while the adults were having church upstairs. Sometimes he would be looking around and I really wasn’t sure if he was even listening. The most wonderful thing is just like God looked down and chose the dark horse David to be King, God looked down, saw his heart, and chose this young man to carry his Word to China. For a sad but inspirational story of faith and faithfulness I would like to direct your attention to his autobiographical experiences of the past couple months as recorded in his blog. You will find it time well spent to read: You might find it mutually beneficial to become Facebook friends. I am so proud of the two of you and your maturity in Christ under what could be devastating situations. May God bless you and yours and bring you through safely. My friend,”Joy comes in the morning!”

    • Paul – thanks for your encouragement. It means a ton to me. And thank you for the link to Mark’s blog, as well. I’ll be keeping him in my prayers, too. I love that his wife had “maximum glory” inscribed on his wedding band. 🙂 Perfect. Thanks so much for your prayers, and for keeping in touch. God bless you.

  5. Dear, sweet Brother Josh… I wasn’t aware of your heart issues, either – but I rejoice in what truly was a HEALING – and will be praying from this time forward that God keeps you in His marvelous care. You AND your family. A woman in the church I grew up in was completely healed of inoperable, life-threatening cancer – so I do absolutely believe in miraculous healing. God bless you, Brother. You are special to me…

    Also, please keep in mind (and Amy, too) that I’m not that far down the road (St. Louis Park) and am around during the day… if you need help, or Amy needs help – even just a run to the grocery store or whatever – please let me know?

    Love to you,

    • Thanks Gretch! I know you’d be there for us if we need it. All is relatively “normal” to be honest. I have to be carefull when I stand up quickly, or climb out of a hot tub. And my professional roller derby career is once again on hold. But otherwise, I just need to rest when I feel tired. The rest of life is pretty routine. In any case, I deeply appreciate your prayers. God is a healer and a miracle worker and I believe it to my core. Thank you so much. Bless you and your family.

  6. Sounds like an opportunity…

    As I was reading your post Josh I thought of Lazarus, after Christ called him from the tomb and hopefully after a shower, he encountered the religious leaders who told him to shut-up about what happened or they would kill him.
    Threatening a person with death after they were already there really didn’t seem to phase Lazarus.
    So in reading your words it struck me, why worry or be afraid – Creator God has already fixed this problem once, He can and will do it again. But what a story to share, and an opportunity that I am sure will point those you come across to your source of hope.

    • I agree Mike. I hope God can use my life for the greatest glory possible. I’m asking Him for strength and direction and healing as we move forward, but I believe He’s alive in me and working out my life’s details for His perfect plan. So, on we go… Thanks for checking in. And thanks for the medical supplies. And thanks for the prayers. And thanks for the friendship. 🙂 Bless you and Janet and the kids, and Journey Church, too!

  7. Josh, wow, isn’t God good to give us any time on this planet and give us an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of His nature and power. Oh, how He sustains us. All that takes place on this tiney planet is under God’s sovereign powerful hand. We can truely rest and find solice in that reality. I was unaware of your heart issue. Brother, we can battle through this life together and await our heavenly home. Press On!

  8. Josh,
    I’m catching up on your archives, and grateful for what you wrote several days ago, as it ministers to my heart today. As I again experience the miracle of pregnancy, I’m faced with the constant struggle to release the health of this small, fragile baby into the hands of an infinite, mighty God. Thank you for reminding me where to go with these fears, and to rest in His presence. I pray that you’re finding rest as well!–BLessings! Kristen

    • Congratulations Kristin! I love hearing about new babies that God is building. So great. I think your fears for your little one are very common, and very understandable… and still very yours. As we’ve gone several pregancies, as well, I can relate to your concern. And yes – God’s got you covered. I’m thinking about the verse that says His eyes search back and forth looking for those whose hearts are comletely His, that He may STRONGLY SUPPORT them. He’s so huge, that is a great comfort to me. It also makes me ask for His help always, that my heart might be fully His – honestly. I’m glad you read this and were encouraged. You made my day, Kristin. 🙂 God bless you and your family!