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Sep 11, 2023 1122 Rosanne Pappas, USA
Encounter

The Hug I Needed

When struggle and pain linger, what keeps us going?

My 11-year-old son patiently sat on the examination table while the doctor tested his muscle strength as she had done so often before. Over the last eight years, I had watched her examine his skin and test his muscle strength, and each time, a panic ripped through me.

After finishing her exam, she stepped back, faced my 11-year-old son, and gently uttered the words I had dreaded: “Your muscles are showing signs of weakness. I believe the disease is active again.”

My son looked at me and then hung his head. My stomach twisted. She put her arm around his shoulders. “Hang in there. I know that, over the years, flare-ups haven’t been easy for you. I know they are very painful, but we’ve managed them before, and we can do it again.”

Breathing out slowly, I leaned against the desk next to me to steady myself. She glanced back at me. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, the baby is in a weird position, that’s all,” I said.

“Are you sure you don’t want to sit down?

With a painted-on smile, I murmured, “No, I’m good, thank you.”

She turned back to my son. “We’re going to try a new medication.”

“Why, he did fine on the old medication,” I said.

“He did, but heavy doses of steroids are hard on the body.”

Why did I ask questions when I really didn’t want to hear the answers, I thought.

“I think it’s time to try a different medication.”

My son looked away and rubbed his knees anxiously.

“Try not to worry. We will get this under control.”

“Okay,” he said.

“The medication has some drawbacks, but we will meet what comes.”

My heart pounded in my chest. Drawbacks?

She turned to me, “Let’s get some blood work. I’ll call you in a week to come up with a plan.”

After an anxious week, the doctor called with the test results. “My suspicions have been confirmed. He’s having a flare-up, so we’ll begin the new medication immediately. He may experience some difficult side effects, though.”

“Side effects?”

“Yes.”

Panic set in as she listed possible side effects.

Were my prayers being answered, or was I losing my son, bit by bit?

“Call me immediately if you notice any of these,” she stated.

Tears rolled down my cheeks.

I shared the news with my husband, and said, “I’m not okay right now. I’m hanging on by a thread. The kids can’t see me like this. I need to cry it out and get myself together.”

He put his hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eye, and said, “You’re trembling, I should go with you. I don’t want you to go into labor early.”

“No, I won’t; I’ll be all right. I just need to get myself together.”

“Okay. I’ve got everything under control here. It’s going to be all right.”

Surrendering…

Driving to the chapel, I sobbed, “I can’t do this anymore. I’ve had enough. Help me, God. Help me.”

Alone in the chapel, I stared sorrowfully up at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

“Jesus, please, please…stop all of this. Why does he still have this illness? Why does he have to be on such a dangerous medication? Why does he have to suffer? This is too hard. Please, Jesus, please protect him.”

I closed my eyes and pictured Jesus’ face. I drew in a deep breath and begged Him to fill my mind and heart. As the torrent of my tears waned, I recalled Jesus’ words in Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s book, Life of Christ. “I created the universe, I set the planets in motion, and the stars and the moon and the sun obey Me.” In my mind, I heard Him say:, “I am in charge! The effects of his medication are no match for Me. Let Me have your cares. Trust in Me.”

Were these my thoughts, or was God talking to me? I wasn’t sure, but I knew the words were true; I had to let go of my fears and trust in God to care for my son. I breathed in deeply and breathed out slowly, intent on releasing my fears. “Jesus, I know You are always with me. Please wrap your arms around me and comfort me. I’m so tired of being scared.”

Answer Arrives…

Suddenly, arms wrapped around me from behind. It was my brother!

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“I called the house looking for you. I figured you might be here. When I saw your car in the parking lot, I thought I’d come in and check on you.”

“I was asking God to wrap His arms around me when you came up and hugged me.”

His eyes opened wide. “Really?”

“Yes, really!”

As we walked out to the parking lot, I thanked him for coming to check on me. “Your hug reminded me that God reveals His presence in loving actions. Even as I suffer, He sees, hears, and understands. His presence makes it all bearable and enables me to trust and hold onto Him, So, thank you for being a vessel of His love to me today.”

We hugged, and tears welled up in my eyes. I felt touched to the core by an overwhelming sense of God’s loving presence.

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Rosanne Pappas

Rosanne Pappas is an artist, author, and speaker. Pappas inspires others as she shares personal stories of God’s grace in her life. Married for over 35 years, she and her husband live in Florida, and they have four children.

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