ONE WINTER SEVERAL YEARS ago, my children were competing in a ski race in Vermont. When my husband and I were having a conversation at the car, he made a hurtful comment to me—one that underscored my recent feelings of insecurity about my marriage. I couldn't shake off the remark for the rest of our trip. When we arrived back home in Massachusetts, I began to experience abdominal pain. It didn't escape me that I had allowed his comment to "hit me in the stomach." As a lifelong student of Christian Science, I called a practitioner to help me through prayer.
My condition seemed to worsen, and I had a high fever. My husband was worried and called his brother, who is a medical doctor. When my brother-in-law heard of the specifics and intensity of the pain, he grew alarmed. His comments frightened me so much that I agreed to go to the hospital. The gynecologist who examined me told me I had a large infected growth in my abdomen, complicated by pelvic inflammatory disease. He said I needed to have a hysterectomy right away and proceeded to tell me that there had been recent cases of women dying from this disease. Hours later, I found myself lying in a hospital bed, in increasing pain and heavily sedated. I kept praying throughout this time and at one point the thought came to me, "Your strength lies in prayer." I felt such support for my desire to keep praying. In the evening, my husband, who had a slight but increasing interest in Christian Science, decided to call a practitioner, someone he remembered I had found especially inspiring after attending one of his lectures recently at a branch Church of Christ, Scientist.
When he got the practitioner on the phone, my husband put the receiver to my ear, and what I heard on the other end was a simple but firm request: Repeat the last three verses of the 91st Psalm, and substitute the word she every time the psalm uses the word he. I didn't know exactly where this would lead, but it provided me with a tiny thread of hope—so I grabbed on. At this point I did what would have been impossible a few minutes before—I got up from a lying position and sat cross-legged on the bed. I reached for my Bible and began to read the last three verses of Psalm 91: "Because she hath set her love upon me, therefore will I deliver her: I will set her on high, because she hath known my name. She shall call upon me, and I will answer her: I will be with her in trouble; I will deliver her, and honour her. With long life will I satisfy her, and show her my salvation."