Afflictions of a Loved One
by Lynn Ridenhour
Nothing moves the heart like the afflictions of a
loved one. Lying there in the hospital with ninety-five percent of my body
burned, covered with second & third degree burns, my bandages holding the
precious liquids in my body, not knowing whether I would live through the
night, I can still hear my mother’s voice, "…Son, if I could trade
places with you, I would…" And then mother would leave the room to
I’ll say it again—nothing moves the heart like the afflictions of a
We were living in Macomb, Illinois. I was teaching at Western Illinois
University and my wife, Linda, was teaching down the road in Carthage at
Robert Morris College. Her parents were visiting. The three of them had gone
up town. I was out mowing the grass when I saw their car pull up in the
driveway. Linda got out first and came running towards me. She threw her arms
around me and began to cry. I held her. Her body was shaking.
"What’s the matter, hon?…"
She was still holding me. Finally she stepped back.
"The eye doctor says I have cancer behind my right eye…"
Muhammad Ali could not have punched me in the gut any harder. My stomach
was in my throat. I literally thought I would throw up right then on the
grass. Linda’s folks had gotten out of the car and were walking with their
heads down. I had no idea they had been to an eye doctor. I thought they were
up town shopping. Linda did not want to tell me.
It’s strange how one minute you can be cutting grass and the next minute
your wife has cancer. I hadn’t moved, nor had I said anything. I did shut
off the lawn mower. Then I took out. It wasn’t premeditated either. I just
started walking. My body was numb; my brain was numb. I told Linda I had to go
for a walk. I went walking down our street, not on the sidewalk. I walked and
I walked and I walked. Down the street. Finally, I came to my senses somewhat.
I do remember telling God with all the spiritual reserves I could muster up,
"…I’m not going back home, Lord, and I’m not going to stop walking
until I hear your voice. I have to hear from you. I have to."
I had never been more serious.
I kept walking. And walking. With every fiber in my being, I meant it. I
would not return home until God spoke. I don’t know how long it took. When
you’re in the middle of a family crisis, time stands still. I don’t know
how long I had been walking.
After what seemed an eternity, I did hear the Shepherd’s voice; it was as
clear as church bells.
"Your wife has been misdiagnosed. She does not have cancer…"
That’s all He said. That’s all I needed.
I walked back home, went inside, and told my wife, "…hon, you do not
have cancer. The Lord said you were misdiagnosed…"
"Amen!" said Art, Linda’s dad. Her parents were standing right
there. I could tell Linda felt some comfort, but I could also tell she was
still worried. Her eye doctor had scheduled her to see a specialist in St.
Louis the following week—to get a second opinion. The wait was a huge test
for us all, but I held my ground. "…Lord, you have never lied to me…"
On our way down to St. Louis, it was quiet in the car. No one felt like
chatting. I drove and everyone simply sat in silence. We pulled in the parking
lot. I must admit, my hands were sweaty and my mouth, dry. I could only
whisper, "…Lord, I choose to believe you…" as we walked inside.
Linda signed in while the rest of us took our seats. Finally the nurse called
I went in with her while Linda’s parents waited in the waiting room.
The doctor did his examination. He shined the lights in her eye. Both eyes.
He turned off the lights, and he ran some other tests. An hour and a half
later he gave his diagnosis…
"Mrs. Ridenhour, I find nothing wrong with your right eye. Both eyes
look healthy to me…"
Every bone in my body cried out, "…thank you, Lord…"
You could see the joy on Linda’s face. Linda’s mother could see it too.
The moment Linda opened the door to the waiting room, she could tell. Linda
didn’t have to say a word. We all hugged.
There was plenty to talk about on our way back home.
I was socked hard again. I’m talking about another family incident. Linda
and I were married twelve years before we had our one and only child—Lori
Mae. I’m sure we all feel this way about our children, but I often tell the
Lord, "…Lord, I don’t see how any parent could possibly love their
child any more than we love our daughter…" I honestly don’t believe
there’s been a day in her life go by that I have not told her that I love
I told her that this morning.
Lori is the apple of dad’s eye, the joy of his heart. My heart beats a
little faster when she walks into a room.
In 1985 we moved to Independence, Missouri, and Lori started kindergarten.
And dad has the privilege of driving her to school every day—and picking her
up. One day Lori’s teacher asks to see both Linda and me. She wants to talk
to us after school. Lori’s teacher was also a friend of ours. A fine
Christian lady, so she got right to the point.
"Lynn & Linda, I’m almost positive Lori has dyslexia. She’s a
bright student but she can’t read. The letters are all scrambled on the page
Again, a mule could have kicked me in the stomach and it wouldn’t have
hurt nearly as bad. Our daughter—dyslexia. It was almost too much. I’m an
old English professor. I know the value of good communication skills. Not
being able to read can be a real burden in life.
We took Lori home, and she went right out to play.
I went right up to my room to pray, and didn’t come out of my room that
night. I prayed all night long. I begged God. I pleaded. Made deals.
"...Please, God, please. Heal my daughter."
There was no mistaking this diagnosis. It was for real. When the kids had
story time, and when the teacher held up her cue cards with one syllable words
on it, all the other students would get the word right. Not Lori.
Finally, the teacher began skipping Lori.
"O, Lord, please hear my prayer…"
I took Lori to school the next morning. About a week later her teacher
wanted to see me again. This time she did not request that Linda come along. I
didn’t know what she wanted.
"Lynn, it’s a miracle. Lori’s participating in story time and
getting the words right. I don’t know what’s happened."
Today our daughter’s a freshman in college, and reading, writing, and
spelling are her best subjects.
O, the goodness of God.