by Howard and Jeanne Tomlinson


Waiting on the Lord for Strength

What do you do when you feel weak and unable to help yourself?  Do you get upset and anxiously fret?  There is a better response that will give you peace and hasten your recovery.

Right after Howie’s third brain surgery in October ’97, neurosurgeon Dr. David Chalif met with me and my friend Joyce and Howie’s brother Cliff outside the waiting room.  He told us, “Howie had a small recurrent tumor on the brain surrounded by a lot a blood from broken capillaries.”  The bleeding caused Howie’s mini-stroke the week before.  Dr. Chalif said the operation was successful, for he removed the tumor and the blood.  He told us that Howie was recovering well and we’d be able to see him soon.
    We rushed into the recovery room.  Even though he was attached to tubes and monitors, Howie was alert and happy to see us.  We were only allowed to be there for a few minutes, so I kissed him and held his left hand, and we prayed with him.  As Joyce drove me home, I broke down and cried as I thought about all Howie had gone through and his long road to recovery ahead.
    I arrived at the hospital the next morning and found out that he was being transferred to ICU.  I thought, “That’s strange.  They usually move people to the step-down room after recovery.”  I went to see him and found him in a bright room all by himself with a beautiful view of the fall leaves out the window.  Howie’s nurse was giving him undivided care.  She explained that the reason he was in ICU was that he was being monitored for a blood clot on the brain.  I was stunned!
    Even though he was weak and in critical condition, Howie was very calm and brave.  His head ached, but he didn’t complain.  He was happy to see his brother Cliff and pastor Rich, who brought him some “real food” from McDonalds.  Later that day, we saw him lift his left hand for the first time since surgery.  I jumped and squealed with joy!  He kept raising his left arm, and we thanked God for this sign of healing.
    While in ICU, Howie was unable to receive phone calls, so I left recorded messages on our answering machine at home, updating his condition each day.  I also sent out daily emails to friends and relatives across the country.  When his blood clot dissolved a couple of days later, he was moved to the step-down room and able to receive phone calls once again.  He always answered cheerfully with his trademark, “Hello, this is Howard; how may I help you?”
    Even though he felt weak, Howie started regaining strength each day.  By the time his folks arrived from Brazil, he was able to start taking short walks down the hallway.  The nurses moved him to a regular room where Pastor Steve, Bible Study leader Marty, and Sunday School teacher Vito visited him.  They were all amazed to see his rapid progress.  When it was time to leave the hospital a week after his surgery, Howie walked to the car without assistance and was excited to be on his way home again!
    Because of the weakness in Howie’s left arm, Dr. Chalif filled out a prescription for him to receive physical therapy three times a week.  Joyce recommended Physical Therapy of Huntington and we decided to give it a try.  After signing in, a young therapist approached Howie and asked, “Don’t I know you?  Weren’t you just at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset?  Weren’t you eating a Danish as you were being wheeled in?”  Sure enough, Howie’s new therapist was Elliot Rover, the grandson of his hospital roommate before surgery!
    During November and December, Elliot worked with Howie to strengthen his left arm and hand.  They did stretching and range of motion, along with exercises to strengthen Howie’s manual dexterity and fine motor skills.  By the beginning of ’98, Howie’s left arm and hand were stronger than before surgery!  When a friend would ask him, “How are you doing?”  Howie would surprise him by reaching out with his left hand to shake.  He returned to work full-time on January 2, 1998, and worked diligently for the next several months with no sick days.  He was even awarded “Employee of the Month” in both February and July!
    The doctor gave Howie permission to play his trumpet and he was better than ever!  I gave him the nickname “Birthday Bugler” because he played “Happy Birthday” for many friends and relatives.  He was also called the “Anniversary Bugler” for playing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” for couples.  Howie loved this new outreach, for he could bring joy to others while playing his beloved trumpet.  He felt more fulfillment than he ever would have as a studio musician.

There are times in life when there’s nothing we can do but wait.  As we rest patiently on the Lord, we can have confidence that He will work everything together for good in our lives (Romans 8:28).  Waiting is not passive, for it also includes fervent prayer.  This Biblical promise is for those who wait on the Lord: “They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

For Those Who Hurt

You may feel weak and helpless right now, wondering what’s going to happen to you.  Don’t run ahead of the Lord or anxiously fret, for that will not help.  Rest and wait patiently for Him.  He can teach you valuable lessons while you’re waiting that you would never learn otherwise.  And in His good time, He can strengthen you for the tasks ahead.  He may even bring a new friend into your life to help aid your recovery.  The Psalmist said, “Wait for the LORD, be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14).



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Chapter 24: Never Alone Table of Contents Chapter 26: The Eye of the Storm