Thursday, May 24, 2012

You Don't Get to Pick Your Miracle

Several weeks ago, my 86-year old mother was admitted into a local hospital for observation because she had low blood pressure. 

Within three days, she had contracted a common hospital borne infection.  In less than two weeks, she was in intensive care suffering from three antibiotic resistant hospital infections, along with pneumonia.

After three weeks, her body ravaged by infections, she was exhausted.  Too weak to lift her hand or hold her head up by herself, she was ready to give up the fight.

She refused further antibiotics, and prepared herself to die.

That evening, after saying her goodbyes to immediate family members, and reminding me, “Don’t forget to call Beverly and tell her I’m dead” my mother closed her eyes and took a long slow breath. 

And then my mother, who had pretty much done every single thing she had ever set her mind to, took one more long, slow breath; and released it gently.  And then she took another.  And another.

Then, as we awaited the inevitable outcome, she opened her eyes.  Looking somewhat perplexed, she scanned the room, shrugged gently, and took another deep breath.

I spent the night in prayer at my mother’s bedside, asking for a merciful death.

She woke up at 3 am, and huffed, “Well.  I’m mad.” 

“Why, Mom?”  I asked her.  “Because,” she replied, “I’m not dead.”

At 6 am she was awake again.  Shaking her head sadly, she said, “I was so planning on being dead.”

Three weeks later and without benefit of antibiotics, all of her infections have cleared.  She is in a full rehab program, and it is amazing to me to see the progress she makes each 24-hour period. 

So I sit and wonder.  Why did my mother, with a worn out body, an exhausted immune system, no antibiotic support, and clearly no desire to live, survive that night? 

And what about the brain-injured child who remains dysfunctional despite hundreds of thousands of prayers for healing?  Or the family member with cancer, the object of her congregation’s prayers, who dies after18 months  of grueling chemo treatments?  What about the young woman, struck down by a cerebral aneurism? The homeless son whose mother prays unceasingly for his safe return? The stillborn baby, the lost Boy Scout, the suicidal father, the accident victim? 

Why does one person live, another die, and others survive, only to spend the rest of their lives in pain?

It would be comforting to have a solid, black and white answer, but I have nothing.  The bottom line is, you don’t get to pick your miracle.

Cardinal Dolan recently tweeted, “God’s time is not our time.  We prefer the microwave.  He prefers the Crockpot.  The food is usually better.” 

A good thought, but little comfort to the mother watching her child die.

All I can do is know that I trust in God, in the same way a little child, holding her father’s hand, believes that He will be with her through the dark of the night.

And I remember one of my favorite Bible verses, Jeremiah 29:11.  "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

What do you do when you encounter times of faith-shattering desperation?  I'd love to hear your experiences.

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  1. Great post Carolyn! I love how you used the tweet!

  2. In times of faith shattering desperation - and I have been there (one time of grief in particular), I run to the exact scripture you quoted from Jeremiah. Thanks be to God for it.

    And by the way - I love the way you write.

    1. Hi, Nancy, thanks for stopping by. I just signed up to follow your blog!

      There are so many talented writers in the blogging world that I find it intimidating, and I very much appreciate your kind words.

      The Jeremiah quote is very comforting, isn't it? A true gift. I'm glad you like it, too.

  3. I came here via Holly's "Pay it Forward". I, too, love the way you write.

    I've reconciled myself to "not getting it" when stuff happens. I know that God has His reasons that I can't fathom at the time, but which usually become clearer later. I know He loves me and works all for our sanctification and His glory. So I use hard times to renew my trust in Him. After 66 years, though, you'd think I'd have this mastered by now, but I don't.

    1. Hi, Barb. Thank you for your thoughtfufl words, and for dropping by via Holly's blog. She is the one responsible for my plunge into blogging, and is also one of the contributors on this blog.

      I admire your ability to use hard times to renew your trust in the Lord. It helps me if I focus on my logical thoughts, (reminding myself that I made a conscious decision to trust Him, and then returning to my favorite quotes and prayers); rather than if I rely on my emotions, which can be all over the map.

      Life is hard, but it's harder if you don't have faith in a loving Father.

  4. Big questions, I wish I had the answers.

    1. Hi, Kylie, I guess we shouldn't feel alone...mankind has been trying to answer these questions forever.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Your blog is adorable, and your photos are fantastic. Thanks for the inspiration.


  5. What a great story. I saw the title of your blog post over at Holly's blog and clicked right away, expecting to find a story of praying for a miracle that did not come. How surprising to find a story about receiving a miracle you weren't even asking for!

    Your insights and observations are very thought-provoking. I guess none of us really has the answers, but that is what faith is for. Thanks for giving me a reminder of what faith can really do!

    God Bless!

    1. Hi, Kari, I apologize, but I just barely found your comment. Thanks for stopping by. I just hopped over to you blog; wow, what an amazing writer you are. I forgot to subscribe, so I have to go back!

      Life is indeed surprising, and God does have an unusual sense of humor.

      Blessings, Carolyn

  6. Having a child with special needs and a heart defect, I have stood facing those terrifying moments of desperation more than I care to think about. However, they never shattered my faith...they reinforced it! Maybe that's because, so far, in the end, my daughter has come out on top. I know there will be a day when she doesn't, but knowing God knows His plan and I can't even begin to grasp the magnitude of it helps me feel secure. As an adult, when life gets overwhelming it's comforting to be able to rest like a child in His arms full of when my DH gives me a reasurring hug...only bigger! I have faith and trust in the people/professionals that God puts in our path...with a healthy dose of realism!LOL!
    Great post!

    1. Julie, you are so right. I, too, have a disabled child, he is 29 now. I love that you have a real-life example of God's love in your DH. Did you read my post on The Riflelman? I think it's really helpful when God puts someone or something in our lives to help us understand the mysteries of our faith. I too, thank God for the amazing health professionals in our lives; and I'm so grateful for the gifts he has given them, which they so willingly share with us.

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Blessings, Carolyn

  7. Caolyn, I hopped over to read your posts from Holly's blog. I believe God has more work for your mother to do here before she joins him in heaven. I found her comments to be amusing, although I'm sure they did not seem that way at the time. Perhaps she is meant to serve as an example of how to face the end of earthly life without fear.

    1. Actually, Elisa, she was very funny. She had a delightful sense of humor through the entire ordeal. I believe you are right, she did have more work to do, and is busy doing it now at a beautiful assisted living facility. She has challenges to overcome, but through the grace of God, and according to His will, we will all come through this ordeal having learned the lessons He intended. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! Blessings, Carolyn