Last week Jo Anne and I had a little bit of a bittersweet experience. Our son Richard lives nearby and one of his neighbors is an occupational therapist who works at a little care facility in Tustin. She knows about our situation through Richard and has seen our DVD "It's Good to Be Alive." She called Jo Anne and asked her if she could bring two young quadriplegics to our home to visit with us. We set up the appointment and last week she brought them by.
They were young Mexicans -- late 20s or early 30s -- both of whom had fallen off roofs while doing construction and are now quadriplegics, having suffered severe spiral cord injuries as a result of their accidents. Thankfully they are not on life support and can move their arms about, but don't have the ability to use their fingers which makes them "quadriplegics" as defined by the medical community.
We could sense that José and Leo were very sweet spirits but also a little depressed and subdued. José has a wife and four children who live in Mexico. I don't believe he has seen them since his accident, and now because of his injury, he has no way of supporting them or bringing them to the United States. His situation seems very hopeless to him. Leo has a wife and three children that live in a small rented home in Santa Anna. The home is not really wheelchair accessible although he has been home a few times, and his wife and children come by the facility to visit with him when they can. He really can't go home to live because of the nature of the home, and even if he had the money, it couldn't be modified because it is a rental. His situation also looks very hopeless to him.
The reason the occupational therapist brought them to our home was to hopefully enlarge their vision and perhaps give them some hope that there really is life after paralysis. Thankfully I was able to communicate with them in Spanish -- their English is almost nonexistent -- and we connected and had a good experience together. They were very impressed with what I could do on the computer and with what Jo Anne had done, and is doing, to make our lives fulfilling and of the highest quality. I felt they left with a little glimmer of hope in their eyes regarding their "hopeless" circumstances. I wish I had the power to deliver them from their dark and depressing situations.
Their visit reminded me of the six months I spent at Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Hospital in the spinal cord injury unit. A young 21-year-old man by the name of Gene Nye was in the bed next to mine, only about three or four feet away. Shortly after being released from Rancho, I used to talk a lot about Gene in talks I would give to different groups and the valuable lessons I learned from him during that time.
Gene was working for the forest service in the mountains, was bitten or infected by a wild animal, and was severely stricken by spinal meningitis. The high fever damaged his brain and when I met him, his body and face were contorted, he was partially paralyzed, he couldn't breathe on his own, and he couldn't think straight or speak. We shared the TV that was hanging on the wall and all he wanted to watch was "I Love Lucy" reruns as well as the "Andy Griffith" show. I also enjoyed "Andy Griffith" and let him have his way with Lucille Ball, but to this day I have an aversion to "I Love Lucy" reruns. Gene's situation also seemed incredibly hopeless to me, because not only did he have staggering physical challenges, he was also an orphan. During the six months we were together he only had two visitors; two men that used to work with him came by one afternoon to say hello. How I wanted to somehow deliver Gene from his miserable lot in life, but of course was unable to do so.
These three examples are but the tip of the iceberg of so many who have seemingly hopeless situations they are dealing with, and because of it are depressed, lonely, sad, and very miserable. Is there no deliverance for them from sorrow and heart ache? The answer of course is "yes!" However, their deliverance will not come to them through the arm of flesh, but through the great "Deliverer.”
My daughter, Rachel, was only nine years old at the time of my accident. She has grown up helping her mother bathe, dress, and feed me, as well as helping to transfer me from my bed to the wheelchair and vice versa. As she got older, she often put me to bed by herself. I think helping me gave her the desire to become a nurse. Upon her graduation, I got to meet Dr. Elaine S. Marshall, Dean of her College of Nursing. Prior to meeting her, I had read an article that she had written that had a great impact upon me. It was titled, “Lessons on Healing.” She was able to put into words something that I had felt to be true for years, but had never been able to fully express.
She believes that there is a big difference between being cured and being healed. She wrote that, “Cure is clean, quick, and done, often under anesthesia. Healing, however, is often a lifetime process of recovery and growth in spite of—perhaps because of—enduring physical, emotional, or spiritual assault. It often requires time. We may pray for cure when we really need healing.” (April, 2004 Ensign, p.57)
In her article she indicated that she had studied the Gospels to discover what she could about Jesus as a healer. I love Elaine Marshall’s summary from the scriptures of this aspect of the Savior’s ministry.
"As Jesus healed, the Scriptures say, All the people were amazed [Matthew 12:23]. They brought their sick, their blind, and dumb, those that were possessed by a devil [Matthew 12:22], and their dead. They sought him every day and into the evening. So great was his reputation and his healing power that they sought to only touch the hem of his garment; and as many as touched were made perfectly whole [Matthew 14:36]. And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching... and preaching the gospel..., and healing every sickness and every disease among the people [Matthew 9:35]. (Ensign, April 2004, page 57)
The Savior is the master healer of the soul – both body and spirit. I believe, in retrospect, that I was cured from my injury (as far as medical science was concerned) within a year after the accident. If you were to read my medical chart it would say something like this – “Jack Rushton is a functioning quadriplegic on life support having sustained a complete injury between the second and third cervical vertebrae.”
I may have been “cured” as far as medicine (as we know it today) could cure me, but I was a long way from being “healed.” I was still devastated by what had happened to me. I felt so much had been taken away. I was depressed and had little hope of what the future might bring. Many years ago, after much soul searching and intense prayer, a wonderful thing happened. The Lord saw fit to heal me as only He can – He gave me a new heart. Since that time, I have felt joy and a sense of well being I never thought I would feel again.
Many of us never receive the total physical cure we desire. However, this must never stop us from seeking to be healed. When we seek the Lord with all our heart, he can strengthen us to the point that our burdens will seem light and bearable.
From the beginning of time, God has tried to teach his people that if they will but trust in him he will deliver them from captivity, bondage, and seemingly “hopeless” circumstances.
And so Leo, Jose, Gene, and countless others, there is no deliverance except through Christ. Christ can infuse joy into our souls and dispel the cloud of darkness hanging over us as nothing else can. No man can do it for us; no other human being can deliver us from sorrow and despair except the Great "Deliverer."