After being hospitalized for a life-threatening saddle pulmonary embolism last month, South Carolina megachurch pastor John Gray returned to the pulpit Sunday amid a thunderous response from his congregation saying, "There is nothing God can't do."
Gray told the audience his doctors had advised him to calm down while preaching.
"I got a few minutes and I feel like preaching. But I can't calm down, because I shouldn't even be here!" he shouted as the congregation replied with applause.
As CBN News reported, Gray, 49, the senior pastor of Greenville's Relentless Church, was admitted to the hospital on July 7. He was in the CCU with a saddle pulmonary embolism in the pulmonary artery and more lung blood clots.
Gray's wife Aventer had asked for prayers for her husband in an Instagram post on July 10, writing: "My family and I stand in need of a miracle. Please keep my husband @realjohngray in your prayers."
"The Saddle PE is in a position that could potentially end his life if it shifts at all," Aventer explained at the time.
According to Healthline.com, a Saddle PE is a rare kind of PE that gets its name from its position when it gets stuck in the lungs. This clot sits within the main artery of the lungs, where it begins to branch off to either side. For this reason, a saddle PE has a high risk of blocking blood flow to the lungs. The name refers to the fact that the clot "saddles" on top of both branch arteries. If a saddle PE blocks one or more of the pulmonary arteries, this can lead to heart failure and death.
On July 19, Aventer again took to social media posting a message from Gray along with a photo of his empty hospital bed.
Gray quoted Psalm 103:1-3: "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;"
"The devil wanted me to die in this bed…THIS BED! This bed was supposed to be my end. Pull the sheet over my head and wheel me to the morgue. This bed, where I entertained my deepest fears, regrets, and triumphs, was supposed to be the period - A life ended, but unfinished," he wrote.
On Sunday, Gray returned to the stage for the first time since being released from the hospital with the theme of his sermon, "I thought you were dead," projected behind him.
In a prayer before he began preaching, he thanked God for bringing him back to his congregation and for all of the believers who prayed for him.
"It was not guaranteed. In fact, at one point it was highly unlikely that I would be carrying or holding a mike again," Gray said. "What was scheduled in hell, was for me to be in a box right there. But I'm on this platform, right here, because you willed it to be so. And for this and every other blessing, I say 'Thank you.'"
"And to the people of God that have prayed and interceded and pushed and fought and cried, and literally, just literally banged on the doors of heaven, 'Lord, not him. Not now and not from this,' Thank you for your people from around the world."
Before he began his sermon, Gray thanked his congregation and his online followers for their prayers. He also recognized the church's staff, elders, and other volunteers, including the ushers for their service, their commitment and their prayers.
Reminding the congregation that the church was more than just one man, "bigger than just one person, bigger than a personality," he thanked all those standing for their diligence and perseverance.
"Thank you for what you have sown into God's people. I am forever indebted. Eternally grateful. Thank you," he said.
Gray also reminded everyone to let their cousins know he would also be preaching at the next service.
"I'm doing it on purpose to let hell know...not only did you lose, you lost big," he said.