Sunday, August 12, 2012
Yet it was our weakness He (Jesus) carried; it was our sorrows that weighed Him down. But He was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. Isaiah 51:4-5
Greg Smith, a friend of mine since we were twelve year olds, is a First Responder. What does a First Responder do? Anywhere there is trouble - earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, mudslides, flooding, they go to help.
Ten years ago, it was Greg's privilege to be called to the World Trade Center when it was hit by terrorists. When he left home that day, he and his wife each felt that he might not return.
Greg did return…and ten years later he is bearing the consequences of his going.
The following are Greg's own words to a fellow sufferer who is trying to make sense of his symptoms (notice he calls it Ground Hero not Ground Zero):
"I served at the World Trade Center a total of 2 1/2 months during the first year, 2 months of that at Ground Hero. I made a total of 10 trips back….
As you know, the illness rate has been quite significant for responders….
The first issue was the unbroken weeks of extreme stress, frequently 24 hrs/ day, day after day after day. This triggers the production of the chemical cortisol in the body, which in turn is a primary cause for diabetes.
Diabetes affects the heart, and within the first year I had been in the hospital several times, being diagnosed with Sick Sinus Syndrome, which causes blood clots, which cause strokes. I have had six strokes at this point, but the Lord has been gracious in giving me remarkable recovery in most areas. I received a pacemaker shortly after my first stroke. Plenty of drug therapy to go along with it. This forced me into medical retirement.
Respiratory problems came along in the first 6 months as well, and have gotten progressively worse. My respiratory system is very compromised. I've lost nearly half my lung capacity. I have been diagnosed with COPD, I'm on oxygen, and a Bi-PAP machine at night. I am too weak to walk without a walker or cane. I'm good for walking about 100 ft. before I have to stop and get my breath. This, of course, comes with the phlegm you mentioned, and the chest tightness, shortness of breath, continual coughing, gasping for air, etc.
Then, there is the Post-Traumatic Stress ...
But - I know I am right where God wants me! Praise the Lord!"
As I read a copy of Greg's recent email to his fellow sufferer, I was reminded of Jesus, the ultimate First Responder. Can you see the correlation? Jesus, the First and Eternal Responder, left His home with the Father to come to do the Father's will. He bore the consequences of coming - he grew weary, hungry, was betrayed, mocked, whipped and killed. He responded to our eternal need and bore the price of our rescue. How difficult and heartbreaking that was! Yet how glorious. He was willing to bear the consequences for you and for me.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to rescue each of us. Thank you! In His precious name. Amen.
Thank you, Greg, for allowing me to share your story.
'Reflections of God's Glory' copyright 2001 by Dawn Ulmer firstname.lastname@example.org
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