Fits, Fears, Faith and Facebook

Mark Arnold by Mark Arnold Additional Needs

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold

Mark heads up Urban Saints pioneering additional needs ministry programme and is co-founder of the ‘Additional Needs Alliance’, a learning and supp...

I remember so vividly the morning that James, our 16-year-old Autistic son, had a fit; a full tonic-clonic grand mal seizure, something he’s never had before.

It is right up there with the most scary, frightening things I have ever experienced in my life (James knew very little about it himself, thank God)…

Even writing about it now brings goosebumps back as I remember what happened…

James had had a bit of a disturbed night, and so had been late getting up. It was about 10am and he had come downstairs; I had just helped him get washed and dressed and had taken his pyjamas out to the kitchen to the washing machine.

When I returned moments later, James was fitting… he was rigidly stiff, having rapid muscle spasms, and losing consciousness. Although it only lasted a couple of minutes I think we lived two lifetimes in that time…

In some ways we went into autopilot as our response to this crisis…

My wife, Clare, stayed with James and made sure he was safe from further harm while I grabbed the ‘phone and called for an ambulance.

Having someone calm on the other end of the ‘phone, asking relevant questions, taking important details, giving us things to do, continually reassuring us that help was on the way, all helped massively.

As the call ended, and with James’ fit having stopped, we awaited the ambulance, who arrived about five minutes later…

Five minutes during which I remembered that our faith brings calm in a crisis, offers reassurance and a presence that is so important in a storm.

We prayed, for God’s presence, for peace in the storm, and for James that he would recover fully and be fine.

Not for the first time, the words to my favourite worship song were a comfort and inspiration to me… “Christ alone, Cornerstone, weak made strong in the Saviours’ love. Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of all…”

The paramedics arrived, James was assessed as being out of danger.

Plans started to form for arranging for him to get some tests (regular readers of my blog will know that for James going to A&E at that time was not possible).

Once the paramedics had left, with James weak from the experience, sleeping through the day, we knew God’s presence with us, his peace and comfort, he was with us in the storm and was Lord over all…

We posted details of what had happened on Facebook, asking our friends to pray for James if they were the praying sort, or to think positive thoughts about him otherwise…

The response overwhelmed us as so many people held us, and especially James, up in prayer and thoughts.

So many wonderful messages of support and offers of help; so much encouragement and kindness… I couldn’t possibly include them all, but here is just a selection:

“Oh, God, we cry out to You on behalf of James and his entire family. Comfort them as only You can, and make a smooth path for them in dealing with this frightening situation.”

“Stay strong mate, know God is holding you all as a family and lean on his love and care – praying for you all.”

“Praying peace for the entire Arnold household. May the hand of God be upon you all right now with favour, restoration and health.”

Facebook, and social media generally, can often get a bad press.

It is sometimes used in hurtful and damaging ways, but it can be, and often is as in our case at that time, a wonderful way of people standing together with those who need their friends…

I can’t begin to adequately express the gratitude we have to the 70+ people who responded, and the many more who also stood with us in prayer and thoughts.

As we look at James today, laughing and full of mischief, eating like a horse and seeming to grow taller by the day, it seems another lifetime ago that he was unconscious, unresponsive, breathing shallowly…

James has had further fits since, and will be starting medication soon, but whatever the future holds we can face it with confidence knowing that our God is greater and is with us, as are our amazing and wonderful friends from across the world who are ready and willing to stand with us in the storm.

Situations like this, frightening though they are, develop our faith and closeness to God and help us to value our friendships all the more… and to be grateful for social media that can bring those friends together!

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid. You are with me. Your shepherd’s rod and staff comfort me.” Psalm 23:4 (NIrV)

Who might you and I show concern for and comfort today?


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