Lessons From Down Days

Link to sermon video: Lessons From Down Days - T Siverd


Sermon By Terry Siverd / July 31, 2022 / Cortland  Church of Christ  - -


Most of you know that I've been struggling with my health.  I've been ailing throughout this entire year and part of 2021.

I have gone from being someone who took no meds at all to a year that have been filled with all manner of tests.


Last February, we saw a doctor in Yuma (former Navy flight surgeon) who ordered 11 vials of blood for testing.

After getting back the results he recommended that we promptly confer with an endocrinologist and

rheumatologist as soon as we returned home to Warren. 


We returned home in late March only to find out that my doctor had retired in February.

We scrambled to find a new doctor who could tend to us and also refer us to the needed secialists.

He immediately order 13 vials of blood for testing.  He soon passed me off to upcoming specialists, saying that

he strongly suspected that I had an auto-immune disease but that he was unable to make any further diagnosis.


This last year has been filled with scores of blood tests (probably now close to 100). 

I've had a couple of MRIs including a brain scan...several x-rays...and over a dozen CT scans.

I've had both lower and upper endoscopies and a throat scan/CT.


A week ago Thursday I awaken from an afternoon nap, arising to use the bathroom.

In the process I fell and I could not get up.  I asked Jeannie to assist me and she said,

“No!, I'm calling the ambulance.”  Shortly thereafter the Vienna F.D. arrived and toted me off to SJH.

All I remember from that evening was being loaded on to a gurney and into the ambulance and a paramedic

named Matt saying that I was “burning up” as he was placing a needle in my arm.

Although we were in the ER for several hours, but I have no recollection of that time period at all. 


All I remember is waking up Friday morning in a hospital room with a man named Dr. Black talking with me.  Jeannie arrived shortly thereafter.  He told me I had some serious pneumonia in my left lung and that there was concern that something (a mass) was hiding behind it.  They were debating how and when to analyze the mass.  They were concerned that this mass may be the very reason that I had lost 75 lbs over the last six months.

When Dr. Black spoke, I asked him if he was familiar with the camp Judson youth retreat, to which he nodded yes!

That was an emotional moment for me - - and I interpreted it as a sign from God - - that he had sent one of my former campers to look in on me.  After Jeannie arrived things began to unfold even more rapidly with more tests occurring almost hourly. I was hooked up with a heart monitor and IV ports on both arms and consigned to my bed.  I argued about it, but they proceeded to engage an alarm that would let them know when I was attempting to get out of bed.  After a detailed consult with the radiologist, Dr. Black decided to wait for the pneumonia to abate before doing a biopsy.


Dr. Black was off for the weekend and other doctors arrived ordering more tests.  An infectious disease doctor was called in and she ordered a variety of highly-specialized tests.  A lung specialist weighed in temporarily overriding the hidden mass idea.  Nevertheless a decision was made to put me in isolation.  I was discharged this past Thursday with a directive to see the rheumatologist a.s.a.p., and to follow-up with subsequent tests at the hospital in the days to come.


My aim in this lesson this morning is not just to tell you about my woes.  That might qualify as a report but it

would not quite rise to the level of being a sermon.  I have titled this morning's message, Lessons From Dark Days.


Us preachers often get hung up on feeling an obligation to say something profound.

Most often, what our churches need to hear from their preachers are not profound words

but words that are practical for daily living - - words that remind us all of the simple calling to follow Jesus.  




This is a quote from a written exhortation to the Christians at Corinth (1Cor.10:12).

These Jewish Christians were living in the last days of Judaism and some were on the brink of falling away from Christ.

Paul reminds them of the promise of God (vs.13):  God is faithful (and) He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what

you are able to bear, but with the temptation, He will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.


I am 68 and, Lord willing, I will be turning 69 on the day after Christmas.

For the past several years I've been dotting my “i's” and crossing my “t's” regarding finalizing plans for retirement.

One lesson that we will all learn somewhere along the way is that things seldom go just as we want them to.

Invariably life comes with “surprises” - - surprises that often arrive as pitfalls and a not-so-good turn of events.




The 90th psalm was authored by Moses.  He writes (Ps.90:10) - - As for the days of our life,

they contain seventy years, or if due to strength, eighty years...for soon it is gone and we fly away.

Moses advises in Ps.90:12 - - So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.

When Moses speaks of “counting our days” he is not talking about the number of years.

Rather, Moses is advising us to make our days count...and to live each day as if it is a gift from God.


While I was in the hospital this week a long-time friend of mine passed away.

We grew up together in the church at Ashtabula.  Like me, he was 68.

Prior to his passing his wife, Barb Elliott Ford, was extending kind words to Jeannie via the internet.

This Saturday I am hoping to attend Paul's calling hours.

The stark reality is that this scenario could have easily been reversed (by God).


In December of 2020 Jeannie & I dined with Larry & Gale Wheeler at the Peter Allen Inn in Kinsman.

Larry / Java & I have been friends for almost sixty years.

Two months later as we traveled from Yuma to Albuquerque to speak the eulogy of a long-time mentor, Marvin Jacobs,

my dear friend Larry was taken to from the Ashtabula hospital to the Cleveland Clinic

where he died a few days later from complications related to COVID.




Something happened last Wednesday that I hope I will never forget.

A very important and highly respected pulmonary doctor visited with me.

He arrived just before they began to move me to isolation on the sixth floor.  He asked politely if we could give him

ten minutes to gather his thoughts.  He proceeded to discuss matters with me (and Jeannie) via a CT scan graphic.

Then, suddenly he paused and looked outside my doorway to say to the transport guy - - “thank you for being patient!”.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote (Rom.12:3 & 16) - - for through the grace given to me I say to every man among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.

I'll not forget this doctor.  The diagnosis he shared that day was uplifting, but his words of kindness were unforgettable.

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