My heart is breaking…
If this blog is worth anything, then I can’t share only the wonderful moments, can I? I also have to share those moments when hope is hard to find… when I must trust God and believe that hope is there somewhere, simply because God is a God of hope.
My husband’s grandpa has been given, at most, six months to live. He may be my husband’s grandfather, but he’s mine, too… the last one I have. I’ve known my husband’s family since I was thirteen, and I think I met Grandpa when I was eighteen. So he’s been part of my life for a long time.
It’s supposed to be easier to go through things like this when you have a large network of loving family members. But the thing is, that’s 30-40 times more hearts that are hurting. Truthfully, I can hardly feel my own pain… it’s overwhelmed by knowing the greater pain of Grandma, Mom (my MIL is the only mother I have now) my husband and his brothers, his sister (who is my best friend), sixteen children who dearly love their great grandfather, and at least a dozen more family.
I lost my last grandfather to heart problems six years ago and my mother to cancer 2½ years ago. So this prognosis brings back some not-so-ancient memories. I know all too well what this dearly beloved family of mine will be facing in the weeks and months ahead. I know the questions that they’re asking… the impossibility of imagining how life without Grandpa would be.
So I opened up my journal again this morning, to ask God how I should pray. Of course, I can pray for his healing, but it’s not that simple. Grandpa is one of the very few in the family who has not accepted the gift of salvation. He knows all it, but he’s always wanted to wait until later. He’s beat milder forms of cancer a number of times. He’s survived heart problems and been through open heart surgery. And still he waits, while the rest of us continue to pray.
And therein lies the paradox. I know that God is a God of healing. But He is a God of mercy and salvation first. He doesn’t want Grandpa to die without accepting salvation any more than I do. What if this prognosis is the only thing that will convince Grandpa that he can’t wait any longer? What if God heals him, and Grandpa continues to wait until death takes him suddenly in the night? What if this prognosis is, in reality, the answer to our prayers… God, in His mercy, choosing a death that will give Grandpa ample time to realize that he can wait no longer? Most people would rather slip peacefully away one night… just fall asleep and wake up in Heaven. But what if you haven’t yet chosen Heaven for your destiny? All of a sudden, that peaceful death isn’t quite so peaceful. As much as we don’t want to lose Grandpa, we know we will someday, and we want to make sure that we’re going to see him in heaven.
Does this mean that I’ve accepted this prognosis? That I don’t have any faith for him to be healed? Not at all. I have simply acknowledged that a higher and more important issue is at stake, and that only God can be trusted to know the best way for those issues to be handled.
God has already extended Grandpa’s life and given him another chance time after time again. The most recent was this past Monday night. He went in the hospital for a diagnosis, threw up some sort of drink for a test when the nurse wasn’t there, breathed it in, and was in a coma and on total life support before anyone knew what had happened. All week long, we’ve been holding our breaths, praying that he will pull out of the coma, and quadrupling our prayers for his salvation. Every day there’s been a slight improvement, and he’s now looking at people in the room, obeying occasional requests, and helping the breathing machine. Hope was surging.
Then we got this news of the cancer diagnosis last night, and hope was suddenly tangled up with painful questions. Memories of what I faced and the ways my faith was challenged when Mom was fighting cancer flooded back through me. I watched with a bleeding heart as my husband started facing the same questions that I found myself asking. I thought of my best friend and knew that she, also, was now facing them.
Questioning can be healthy, but it can get dangerous if the devil’s lies and deceptions are accepted as answers. No matter what happens… whether Grandpa regains full use of his body tonight and is miraculously healed of the cancer as well, or whether he dies tomorrow… whether the doctor has made a mistake and he’s fine, or whether the doctor is right, yet Grandpa fights and hangs on for years… no matter what, this will affect every person in the family in one way or another, and a lot of it will have to do with the questions they ask and the answers they receive.
And that is where I can pray. I’m sure I’ll pray for plenty of other things, but He gave me a prayer that I might never have thought of on my own… prayers that will be needed as so many who are dear to me face the questions that this trial will bring. I can pray against the lies and deceptions that damage people’s faith and relationship, and I can pray the truth in everyone’s hearts and minds. I can pray that as those questions are asked, Truth is revealed. Truth that sets the asker free… that my loved ones will grow through this, and not be harmed.
I suppose that’s where the hope lies. That even though my heart is breaking, God is still here for each one of us.