Bouncing Back

I am no Job from Bible fame, but I’ve recently gone through some difficult times and learned a couple of valuable lessons I would like to share with our URM friends.  The last 40 days of our fiscal year which ended June 30th were both challenging and exciting.  We were at risk of not meeting our budget which meant many of the plans we had in place for the summer and fall would be postponed or even canceled.  I spent many sleepless nights praying, our team spent time praying, we shared our needs with our faithful friends and supporters and ultimately raised a record $5.8 Million.  There was much to celebrate.  Then on June 29th, I experienced a heart attack.  I spent the next few days in the hospital as the doctors determined the extent of the damage and for the first time since coming to Union Rescue Mission, I was unable to attend the ceremony celebrating the most recent graduates of or Men’s Life Transformation Program that took place on July 1st.

On July 5th I had a quadruple bypass surgery.  My heart had failed, and I had filled up with 32 lbs of fluid, mostly in my lungs.  So, when they wheeled me into surgery, and I said good-bye to my family, I truly believed I would not see them again on this earth.  I even texted a good-bye/thank you note to my wife, because I couldn’t speak it or I would have crumbled.  She did the same.  I was in tough shape!

I was pleasantly surprised to wake up from the six hour surgery!  I was so surprised that I tried to rip the ventilator out of my mouth and four people had to restrain me.  I went home within a week, my wife taking time off to care for me, and I was back at URM in 16 days, half-time at least, and I’ve bounced back so far that I am now working full-time and setting some records on the cardiac rehab machines three times a week.  I can’t help myself, I try to set a new record each morning!

I’ve also been studying the book of Job, one of my favorite sections of Scripture, and though I don’t understand our suffering on this earth, or specifically my own struggles, I’ve realized that suffering brings about such a dependence and turning to the Lord that causes character to be built in me that would not come about without that suffering, so in the end, I am thankful for even the toughest, deepest, darkest struggles.  Hopefully I am a better man, Dad, husband, friend, Grandpa, and CEO because of it.

I’ve also learned what Job’s friends should have done, rather than lecture or blame him.  As I returned to work at Union Rescue Mission, some of my co-workers walked in my office, told me it was good to see me, and gave me a hug.  As I walk through the halls, guests of URM, perhaps going through the most difficult time in their lives, experiencing homelessness, greet me and tell me how good it is to see me.  The same happens as I go out on the streets and hand out bottles of cold water.  People that I don’t even know or recognize, struggling on the streets, stop me, and hug me, and tell me how good it is to see me alive and well.  That has caused an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and joy within my soul.  That is what Job’s friends should have done-simply told him how good it was to see him, and given him a hug.  I hope that you’ll remember that the next time a friend is suffering.

Thank you, for all of the prayers.

Rev. Andy Bales

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