My Stroke Journey

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

This precious promise is all-encompassing for those who love God.

All things are from God—mercy, affliction, personal, and public. All things are good from all aspects—temporal, spiritual, and eternal. All benefit us—inclining us towards good, breaking us off from sin, bringing us nearer to God, weaning us from the world, fitting us for heaven.

The prophet Jeremiah endured many afflictions, acknowledging that God was the ultimate author of those afflictions (Lamentations 3:1). Nevertheless, he also said, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

I had a stroke recently, paler in comparison with Jeremiah’s afflictions, but nevertheless serious. My stroke affected the language centres of the brain. I quickly realised that I could not pray very effectively, and also I realised and valued the prayers of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Like Jeremiah, I have reflected on the Lord’s mercies and compassions. God has been truly good in many ways through my affliction, for example:

(1) God has retained my ability to read his word and understand its meaning. Furthermore, I have taken to heart its precious promises in a fresh, new, and even exciting way. I feel nearer to my heavenly Father and feel closer as his adopted child.

(2) I have more time to read the scriptures, as well as devotions, the words of hymns, and godly literature.


I found a treasure in Romans 8:26 “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”

God is three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a mystery of one substance, power and eternity. Romans 8:26 focuses on the Holy Spirit, who helps in our weaknesses. This powerfully speaks to my situation. The Holy Spirit actually intercedes for me. He directly prays in accordance with the will of God.

I knew that God only answers my prayers if they are in accordance with his will. James says “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it in your pleasures” (James 4:3). Now I know that my prayers are always in the will of God, since the Spirit prays for me. Nevertheless, when I come to God, I must satisfy the pre-condition of coming to him with a holy, humble boldness and with a sincere heart. Unless I cry out “Abba Father” (Romans 8:15) and acknowledge Him as my Heavenly Father, he will not hear me.

One of the many gifts the Holy Spirit gives to each of his saints is the preparation of all our prayers. For example, the Spirit opened King David’s heart to build God’s house (2 Samuel 7:29). The Spirit is an excellent mover in all of our hearts, provided we do not quench his promptings (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

It is not surprising that the Holy Spirit who resides in all our hearts, knows the things we have need of before we ask him (Matthew 6:8). He is not swayed by our eloquence or the persuasion of our words. But he is swayed by “groanings that cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26), or swayed when not even a word is spoken in prayer (e.g., Moses in Exodus 14:15).

With my particular difficulty of speaking to God, I am reminded that I have always had difficulty in my prayer life with wandering thoughts; with padding out a respectable length of prayer; and with public prayer. At times I don’t even know how to pray in the particular circumstances.

The Holy Spirit’s intercession in my affliction was telling in various ways:

(1)  The intervention drug was so successful that a nurse said that she had never seen such a wonderful outcome.

(2)  The medical help afforded me was top notch and seemed to preference me. I was expedited to rehabilitate in the unit that housed patients with more serious injuries than mine. I was offered a place in a prestigious intensive program (CHATS), all at no cost. Another health professional that has since assisted me with my recovery was surprised that I had been placed into the program as she considered me to be operating at a higher capacity than those who were normally considered for the programme.

(3)  In the early days, they watched me 24 hours to ensure that I did not stand up out of bed by myself and potentially fall over. To suffer a fall at that time, while the drug was working in my system, could have been fatal. The ongoing care was sometimes above normal standards/expectations. One nurse helped me with my speech therapy, above and beyond her normal duty of care, and treated me as family.

(4)  I have a heightened sense of the afflictions of others, and putting myself in their shoes.

(5)  I am closer to my wife, Glenda. She has put her life on hold to look after me. She stopped her own therapies and any thoughts of her own personal needs. Staff noticed her daily visitation.

(6)  Some of the patients in the hospital do not have wives or close family. God has blessed me with a wonderful wife to care for me through this period. It has also been our experience in the past that if one of us is needing care, the other is able to step in to become the carer. This has been the case this time.

(7)  As could be expected, my recovery is not complete. There are some ongoing issues, but God again is true to his promise, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13). At the time of writing, I have three concerns with my recovery, but only one of those concerns is in play at the moment, with the other two not as concerning. God is faithful to all his promises.

(8)  I have an awakened sense of being a member of the body of Christ. There are so many prayer warriors who I do not know, and who treat me as family.


“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

The post-hospital CHATS programme was tailored around my life as envisaged in my recovery. I appraised my tutors of my walk with Jesus and my life serving him as a follower. What a wonderful opportunity to witness for Jesus! God has enrolled me in a programme which helped me to cope with my disability in the world, and, at the same time, gave me the opportunity to talk freely about my life as a Christian.

I also grasped with both hands every opportunity to live out the fruits of the Spirit. I was concerned with other patients, always showed my gratitude for the help given to me to minimise my own discomforts, and to my knowledge I did not mumble or complain about my condition.

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Rob Humphreys