The Day I Got a Stroke
By Kenneth Chiu
The date was 31 May 2016. It was the 4th day of my family holiday in Australia with my two kids, Matthew and Esther, and my wife, Cheryl, who was in her 4th month of pregnancy.
We had a great time on our road trip over the past few days and had just checked into a remote beach resort in the Margaret River area. It was my first time staying in a self-contained beach resort where the resort was unmanned after office hours. The resort was located at a secluded beach which was relatively quiet and deserted as it was the off-peak season. We had a wonderful self-cooked dinner with the scenic view of the sunset from our balcony, before calling it a day.
Everything went smoothly until I was awakened by a sharp headache in the middle of the night at around 3:00 a.m. It had never happened before. That said, I didn’t pay much attention to it and went back to sleep quickly.
The next morning, I was the first in my family to wake up. Though I was still suffering from my headache, I prepared some breakfast for the family. When we had breakfast in our dining area, I suddenly noticed that I could not comprehend my kids’ conversation, nor was I able to respond to their questions. At that moment, I felt that my brain had suddenly shut down. I could not recall any vocabulary or even speak. I was confused, fearful, and helpless. I stared at the refrigerator in the kitchen area for a long time, but I couldn’t recall what a refrigerator was called.
After a short moment, my family began to realise that something was off about me. After a quick breakfast in the dining area, I decided to go back to sleep in hope of recovering from my situation after a short nap. The short nap turned out to be a 5-hour deep sleep which I had no memory of until my wife woke me up in the early afternoon. I learnt from my doctor some days later that it was a bad and dangerous decision to go back to sleep instead of immediately heading straight to the nearest hospital.
By the grace of God, I began to regain some ability to speak slowly, though my sharp headache remained. I continued to be troubled by tremendous fear and anxiety, but I prayed to God earnestly for His blessing and mercy upon me, to help me through this difficult situation, allow my family and I to come home safely, and lastly, bless me with the chance to see my children grow up.
While I was still troubled by my sharp headache and the fear of an unknown health situation developing within me, I pressed on with the rest of my trip as I was concerned that my family could be stranded helplessly in this remote location as we were very far away from Perth city. I constantly struggled with the fear of fainting at the steering wheel while driving, or experiencing a sudden health deterioration during my flight back to Singapore etc., but God through my prayer gave me peace and strength throughout the entire trip. God has been merciful to me and brought me home safely, where I was finally admitted to the hospital and confirmed to have suffered a stroke during my vacation.
Trust in the Lord
The experience of God’s mercy in preserving my life and answering my prayers have taught me to trust Him in every situation of my life. While I had been a Christian for many years, I had yet to be able to fully place my trust in the Lord in every situation of my daily life. Instead of relying on God and trusting Him, I was either overly inclined to rely on my past experiences for direction, over confident in my ability to deal with daily situations, or had simply compartmentalised my life and neglected God. However, this episode has served as a great reminder and warning to me that I need to humble myself, acknowledge God in my life, and trust Him wholeheartedly.
1. Trust in the Lord
As Proverbs 3:5-6 reads,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths”,
it is so important to consciously put my trust and confidence in the Lord, putting away my own understanding and choosing to trust the Lord and His words wholeheartedly. I must honour and acknowledge God in all that I do, and “invite” Him into all aspects and situations of my daily life. I know that when I acknowledge Him in all my ways and trust Him completely, God will direct my path into what is right and pleasing before Him.
2. Be Humble
As James 4:10 reads, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you”, this unforgettable experience has given me an opportunity to reassess my life and deal with the hidden problems in my spiritual life. These include my hidden pride, my misplaced trust on past experience instead of God, and my lack of humility before God. This encounter has led me to understand that God will elevate us to new spiritual heights if we humble ourselves before Him.
3. God is gracious
God is merciful. God does not leave us helpless. God gives us the Holy Spirit who is with us always. Seek Him always and pray to Him always.
My stroke encounter might have been nerve wracking, but it was indeed a good trial of life which I will never forget as I witnessed the mercy of God upon me and learnt to truly trust in the Lord.