As a missionary who grew up in a 3rd world country….death had always been apart of my life. I grew up watching & then eventually making … life-and-death decisions every week….sometimes every day.
- When we admitted one child into our feeding program but then turned away the next child (because we were full)… only to bury them a week later – – – – that’s a life & death decision.
- When the mission is down to a gallon of diesel and a newborn baby needs oxygen…. deciding whether to run the generator for the baby or save it to pump water for hundreds to drink the next morning – – – – -that’s a life & death decision.
- When your surgery team is only available one week and there’s 500 people who are in urgent need of an operation – but only 120 spots open- – – that’s a life & death decision.
Choosing who to help – how to help – where to help – what to help with – when to say yes – when to say no – when to walk away – when to stand-up and fight – – – those are all life & death decisions.
When I started my first pediatric clinic in 2001 – there were two prayers that I found myself praying over every patient.
Prayer 1: Lord, please give me the wisdom & resources to save this precious child of yours in time. May they close their eyes and wake up in their loved one’s arms.
Prayer 2: Lord, please come now. Please wrap your arms around this precious child of yours & end their needless suffering. May they close their eyes and wake up in Your arms.
Having spent the majority of my life working in the medical field, I frequently came across that “naive” family who didn’t really get how serious the situation was. I’ve watched families pray with such boldness – believing in a healing that seemed medically impossible.
I pitied them as I watched them hold onto a HOPE that defied all the odds. I thought these poor families have no clue what’s about to happen and they are going to be SO broken when they don’t get their miracle.
Fast Forward to Friday & Saturday….
I’m watching my sister’s blood pressure drop to 50/30….I’m seeing nurses & doctors surround her with 15 IV’s, tubes galore, so many shots, and moving parts… that I can’t even believe this is happening.
I’m listening to the ER doctor tell me to call in my family right now and at the same time to continue to hold my sister’s hand and touch her as much as possible right now because it won’t be long…..
And for the first time I didn’t know which prayer to pray.
Do I pray Prayer 1 or Prayer 2?
Do I pray for wisdom in this moment or for God to end her suffering? WHAT DO I PRAY? And honestly…in the moment I’m so numb & mad that I’m not sure I could find any words to say anyways.
In my experience, those who have been battling a serious illness are often ready for their suffering to end. They were tired. They were sad to leave us but ready to see Jesus. They were only holding on because we needed them to….they held on for us.
But what do you pray when it’s YOUR family member that is suffering? When the situation is so dire & so seemingly impossible… AND YET they tell you that they are NOT supposed to go now?? When they tell you that they aren’t holding on for you… but that God hasn’t released them yet from their calling??
What do you do when they speak with such boldness and clarity that their suffering serves a purpose we cannot yet understand? When they declare that they “know” their story isn’t finished?
What do you pray…. when all signs point one way and yet the heart, mind, & soul desperately cry out for more time?
What do you pray….when the doctors tell you that your sister is dying right now in your arms and yet she “somehow” defies the impossible time and time again?
What do you pray…..when the very wise medical providers are completely baffled 3 days later having never seen anyone survive what she has survived?
How do you reconcile ALL OF THAT to yourself?
Now that I’m on the “other side” (I’m the family of a patient in an impossible situation – instead of the medical provider) – it no longer seems “naive” or silly to hold onto HOPE in the midst of the impossible. We STILL believe.
You see what I realized is that I don’t need to know which prayer to pray…. Prayer 1 or Prayer 2.
God WILL make this life & death decision for us. ONLY HE can bring the miracle we are desperate for.
At the end of the day…what I have learned after 3 of the most mind-boggling, gut-wrenching, totally confusing, & painful days….. the prayer is simply…. Thy Will Be Done.
Categories: Mission Stories