‘A Stroke of God’s Grace’ – Sydney Lee

Sydney Lee (white)Sydney Lee, Light of Christ Church Woodlands

I suffered an unexpected and massive stroke in April 2012. I was at work, having a routine discussion with my staff, when I suddenly found myself lying on the floor, feeling cold and tired. Although my staff rushed to seek medical assistance, I thought it to be simply exhaustion from back-to-back business trips in the preceding month. I believed that after some rest, I would be up and running again. Instead, I found myself being rushed to A&E in an ambulance.

Debbie, my wife, was asked to give consent for doctors to administer a thrombolytic drug, to help clear the blood clot in my brain. However, it could potentially cause the brain haemorrhage to worsen. The drug had to be administered within a short window, to prevent more severe and irreversible brain damage. After seeking counsel and consideration, she consented to its administration.

The brain haemorrhage worsened through the night. Blood flooded my brain cavity, and the pressure resulted in major migrains. Even as medications and ice packs were administered to relieve the pain, I began to lose hope. I thought this was the end: cold, alone, and in the ICU.

The neurosurgeons and attending physicians were of the opinion that an open-head surgery was necessary, should the haemorrhaging and pressure continued unabated. They informed Debbie that they would make the call without the consent of the next-of-kin, if they were of the opinion that the situation was life-threatening.

That night, Debbie started a global prayer chain on social media. She sought prayers from friends for God’s preservation, and prayed that I would not require an operation. She also explained my condition to our three children, and together they prayed for God’s favour and healing to be on me. The next day, the doctors confirmed that although pressure was still pressing on my brain, surgery was not necessary.

JOURNEY IN BROKENNESS

I later discovered that the stroke caused severe brain damage: About 40% of my right brain was damaged, and my prognosis was not rosy. It is an understatement to say that the stroke was devastating: I experienced the loss of peripheral vision, hearing, swallowing and speech, along with loss of bowel and bladder control. I was like a baby, wearing adult diapers, and learning to swallow again, lest I choked. Debbie was also told that I would not be able to walk normally for some time, even with rehabilitation, and that I would have to move about in a wheelchair.

I felt depressed. I lost my dignity, independence, control over my body, identity, and everything that I had built up in my career with a single stroke. I felt broken, both physically and emotionally. I could only cry out to the Lord to help me overcome this.

MUSTARD SEED FAITH HEALING

The next Sunday, Rev Canon Dr James Wong, my former pastor from the Chapel of the Resurrection, celebrated communion with me in hospital. He shared from Hebrews 4:14 – 16: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Under his instruction, I sought healing from God’s throne. I prayed: “Lord, as you said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing is impossible for you (Matthew 17:20)”. Lord I have faith. I say to this leg of mine to move as I imagine it, in Jesus name.”

A miracle happened that day. As I lay in bed, resting my feet on a pillow, I imagined lifting it, and slowly moving it down onto the bed; and my left leg performed exactly as I imagined it to. From that moment, I knew I was healed.

I asked my physiotherapists to train me to run again, telling them of my apiration to run a half-marathon in December that year, as per my original plan before the stroke. They told me it was impossible.

MIRACULOUS GRACE IN THERAPY

Two weeks after the stroke, after my condition stabilised, I was transferred to TTSH. My therapists there responded encouragingly as I shared my dream of running the half-marathon that year. Through God’s marvellous grace, my friends’ and family’s relentless prayers, and the patience of my therapists, I graduated from the wheelchair, to using a walking aid, and finally walking by myself using a cane, in a matter of weeks. Three weeks later, when allowed home leave for the weekend, I did not need to go home in a wheelchair. Within three months of suffering from a massive stroke, I was discharged, and given the go-ahead by doctors to return to work.

The doctors were surprised at the speed of my recovery. At the first medical review after my discharge, my neurosurgeon informed me that he had never seen such a miraculous recovery in all his years of practice. My recovery was not the norm.

FROM BROKENNESS TO VICTORY AND BEYOND

In November 2012, my family proceeded with our vacation in the USA as planned prior to the stroke. It was a chance for the family to heal together, after such a tumultuous time.

On 2 December 2012, I started the half marathon at Sentosa, and completed the 21.1km at the Padang, to the cheers of family and colleagues. It was a victory shared by friends both in Singapore and the various countries that had prayed for me. I thank God that through social media, this testimony of God’s healing and grace was shared to people in other countries.

This ‘stroke of God’s grace’ was instrumental in my decision to leave my job at Sony Electronics, and go into church work.

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

The stroke has left my left arm disabled. I still do not understand why God healed all of my left body except my left arm. But I know that the Lord gives and takes away. Every part of me is fully healed. While the healing in my left arm is not yet fully physically manifest, it is well with my soul. All glory be to God.

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