Thankful for my Pulmonary Embolism

In every thing give thanks:
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
concerning you.
I Thessalonians 5:18

In 1979, I learned the pain that comes in the last few miles of a marathon when you go too fast between the 15 and 20 mile mark.  In 2001, I felt that same pain again, searing through my chest and shoulder.  The doctors eventually determined that the source of the pain was a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung).  It felt exactly like the last four miles of the 1979 St. Louis Marathon — except it lasted for more than 48 hours before they reached the right combination of painkillers.

Recently, Terri and I visited a dear friend in the hospital who was having serious health problems.  To our dismay, we learned on our arrival that he had a further complication — a pulmonary embolism.

Our friend, due to all the problems, was confused, and clearly didn’t understand what was going on.  I told him, “You’ve had a blood clot on the lung.  That’s what I had.”  It was only a little thing, but it made a difference for him.  He knew about my troubles, so now he was in known territory.  I don’t know if he really understood the condition, but he understood that someone he knew and loved had been there, and it helped.

I knew where it hurt, and that shifting his position might help.  I struggled for years with chest pain due to scarring on the lung (I still do, occasionally), and I knew how to ease him a little.  Those years of discomfort helped me to know how to help.

As I left the hospital, I said to Terri, “I’m glad I had a pulmonary embolism.”  A little later, I thought, “I’m glad I had continuing pain.  I wouldn’t have known how to help him as much, otherwise.”

God commands us to give thanks in everything.  That doesn’t come naturally to us, and it’s a hard lesson to learn.  But sometimes, in His mercy, He lets us see how He is using those hard situations, and we find it easier to be thankful for them.  I can say, “I’m thankful for my pulmonary embolism.”

It would be wrong to stop there, though.  We walk by faith, not by sight (II Corinthians 5:7).  If being allowed to “see” helps us learn gratitude, that should teach us to be thankful when the only sight we have is faith.

If we ever need to understand, God will show us.  If we don’t need to understand, we’re left with faith — but faith is enough.

**God is not less good just because we don’t understand yet.** 

About Jon Gleason

Former Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
This entry was posted in Daily Christianity and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Thankful for my Pulmonary Embolism

  1. Patrick Heeney says:

    My dear Bro Jon,
    How true the blessings of trials. So often we want, or do, ask why me? Often times the answer is “so that you can be a blessing to someone else”. That is true of the physical, the financial and even the spiritual crucibles we pass thru. Lord help us to be patient, and to trust in your great goodness to bring forth fruit!

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Thanks, Patrick. We always think it is all about ME. Sometimes, I think what we go through isn’t primarily about me at all, it’s about others. But we are selfish, and forget we are servants….

      It’s a shame we couldn’t get out to see you this time. You’ll have to come see us instead.

  2. Kaitlyn says:

    I am also in a way grateful to have had a bilateral pulmonary embolism. I am 19 years old, but on Christmas eve of my senior year in high school, I was taken to the emergency room from chest pain and diagnosed with pulmonary embolisms. It was one of the worst and most painful times in my life, but it has also changed my outlook on life. I no longer worry about little things in life, and I live everyday to the fullest. I realize now that God has a plan for all of us, and all we can do is sit back and enjoy the ride. I now have a strong urge to help people in every way that I can, just as the doctors helped me, so I can see where you are coming from on your gratuity towards your PE. Stay strong, and I wish you the best.

Comments welcome! (but please check the comment policy)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s