Rumour was that he was out of his mind.
That was since he had contracted the Pseudobulbar Affect or in terms of a layman Emotional Incontinence - now John's Christian lifestyle lay in tatters. From being a bachelor with a robust Christian ethic he had turned into a recluse who was afraid to face a new day.
After suffering a minor stroke the PBA had taken over control of his feelings and reactions - his once active social life soon spiralled down to zero. His shame, caused by the lack of emotional restraint, had warded off any thoughts of continuing with or making new friends.
He would sit huddled in the darkest corner of his dingy bachelor pad with the drapes drawn and brood about all the embarrassing situations that had followed the onset of the illness. He re-lived these shameful encounters over and over again with a disconsolate spirit.
Like the time Janice, the Pastor's wife, had confided in him: “John, I'm really depressed since mum passed away – I just don't seem to be able stop crying.” Janice then became really angry with him: “What are you smiling at?” He had felt a big grin surfacing and had then hurried away with a handkerchief stuffed in his mouth to muffle the hysterical laughter that began spewing out. Safe back home he had wept uncontrollably for hours before falling asleep and eventually waking feeling physically exhausted.
A defining factor in John's church-life came when his friend Pastor James preached on the importance of praise in the Christian's life. He had said, “The Lord wants us all to have his joy within us.” This statement sent John's emotions into reverse and caused him to leave shamefacedly with profuse tears falling from what seemed like a broken heart. Pastor James later told him not to worry as they now understood his condition but this didn't stop the stares of disbelief from some of the congregation. He stopped attending church soon after that.
However, some everyday life situations had to continue: like the weekly shopping and his work at the bank - during these times he made strenuous efforts to quell his erratic behaviour which had the tendency to explode at any time.
When on a shopping visit to his regular store he was served by a new girl. Suddenly she ran for cover thinking she had seriously messed up as her customer had started sobbing uncontrollably. She had simply asked John, “Did you see today's special offer sir?” John blurted out that he hadn't, before starting to shed tears like a leaking dam and running from the store with an empty shopping bag. Afterwards, he feared to shop at the store. His good friend James arranged for his weekly shop to be done by Hemmy (Mrs Hemingsdale – she hated her Christian name Dorcas) who had taken it to heart to pray regularly for John.
Unfortunately, John lost his job at the bank because of his unacceptable customer and colleague interaction. Hysterical laughing, anger and crying were just not conducive to the smooth running of a banking establishment. The last straw came when he had gone berserk after the manager's remark that he must pull himself together or he would have to leave – he left!
One time Hemmy shared with John that the Lord had given her a scripture for him. It was a promise of the Lord's help and she suggested that they pray around this scripture each week after dropping off his shopping. Hemmy and James requested of John that he pull back his drapes when they dropped in on him only to find them drawn to again on their next visit.
In response to Hemmy's prayers John slowly improved. A church working party then redecorated his living quarters which took on a light and airy look. He promised that he would testify to his complete healing when he had been free from symptoms for a year. That testimony had been a blessing to the whole church – healing faith had taken on an enormous boost from that day!
Each night before going to sleep John would look over at the scripture that Hemmy had given him and so lovingly framed and would read the words out loud:
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalm 27 v1 RSV)
Then he would smile before dropping off into a sweet slumber!
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