Sometimes It’s Hard to Die
Janet and I just returned home from visiting our friend Roger in the hospital. I wrote about him and his fight with pancreatic cancer in a blog entitled “He Ain’t Heavy – He’s My Brother” on March 12th. I have been faithful to my commitment to stay close to him and re-dedicate my efforts to be available to spend time with Roger and his wife, Arlene.
During the last four weeks, Roger’s health has started to markedly decline. He has been in more and more pain, and until today, has been fed through an IV. Last week, he was home two days, and this past week, he made it 4-1/2 days at home. But the end almost came this afternoon. He saw the cardiologist yesterday, and was scheduled to have one of his stents cleaned out this morning. What started out as a routine procedure turned into a nightmare in the recovery room, when Roger could not catch his breath, and the hospital priest was called to administer the Last Rites to my Catholic friend. When he finally stabilized, they drained 5 liters of fluid from around his stomach and abdomen. This relieved his pain, and his labored breathing. However, tonight he stayed in the hospital and was very tired.
In fact, I saw a significant change in his appearance this evening, and aside from everything else, the doctors indicate his gall bladder is not working, due to the tumor, and they have discontinued feeding him through the IV. We have arrived at the point that nobody even has predictions about what tomorrow will hold. And as we left his room this evening, I felt the strong desire to pray once again for divine peace, freedom from pain, and if it is in God’s will, a miracle of healing for my friend.
Several things passed through my mind – most notably Janet’s comment on the way out that became the title of this post – “Sometimes It’s Hard to Die.” When she first said it, I didn’t really react – it was kind of haunting to me. And then she reminded me that her grandfather Stewart used to say that – and I remembered those words as they came back to me. At the time I heard them, I guess I was too young to really consider the weight of what he was saying. And I admit that although I have faith, I am fearful of the dying process – not death itself, because I fully intend to be in heaven, but the process of dying does scare me a bit. I daresay Janet does not have the same concerns as I do – but I struggle with the whole issue. And I am watching Roger cope with the very procedures that I dread even thinking about.
But I also believe in miracles and recently I have been thinking about Jesus in terms of His healing ministry during his life on earth. There are more than 54 references to healing in the new Testament alone – and this does not include the references to people who had be healed in the past! So I was drawn to Act 4:30, “Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And as Janet and I prayed for Roger, I asked God to consider a miracle of healing, if it was consistent with His will. Sometimes, this is the part of prayer that I struggle with – the idea that our prayers must align with the will of God. Did you ever just want God to answer your prayer, even if it wasn’t consistent with what He wanted. I know that I do!
But I know better. There are so many places that we are told in the Scripture that we should align our wills with the will of God. In John 14:13, Jesus tells us, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” So why doesn’t God answer every request for healing? Because that is not His will. And this side of heaven, we just won’t find out any more. But even Jesus expressed his concern about dying, as He went to the cross. In Mark 14:36, Christ says, “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And we know that the Father did not save His own Son from death. This Friday we will remember this event – and then on Sunday, we will rejoice in the resurrection – the conquering of death.
So my encouragement tonight is that God answers prayers that are consistent with His will for our lives. And, of course, my prayer continues to be that God may perform a miracle in the life of my friend Roger, and spare him, at least for now. So, once again, I ask for your prayers that Roger may enjoy God’s peace, freedom from pain, and that his death, if imminent, may be swift and that he will spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven. I will keep you posted…….