IT’S THE QUESTION OF THE WEEK.
It comes from Collette, whom I’ll identifying only by her first name—because her question is so personal.
Let me give you a heads up about why I picked this question.
It’s not only because I have a little experience in the matter. It’s also because I figure a lot of you do, too.
I’m inviting you to share your insight with Collette. Please feel free to send her any notes of encouragement, favorite Bible verses, or other advice by adding them in comment boxes below. I can guarantee she will read them.
Here’s Collette’s wrenching question:
My husband suffers terribly from Parkinson’s Disease and although I have been a Christian my whole life, I have found myself drifting away. I watch him suffer every day, trying to earn a living, without health care, and trying to manage a body that no longer is under his control and I just can’t find any comfort in the Bible like I once did. Would you have any suggested passages or reading materials for situations like this?
There are lots of Bible passages that can comfort us when we’re going through situations rough like this. There are lots of wonderful books, too.
I know many people find these helpful.
But for me, not so much.
From the time I graduated from college through the time I married and had children who grew into their teen years, I watched my father suffer from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
He fought the disease for 27 years, taking every kind of treatment he could take, including experimental therapies toward the end of his marathon.
Dad was a machinist who loved his job of carving metal into precious parts used everywhere from households to factories to nuclear submarines. He rode a Harley for fun. He climbed trees with a running chainsaw, which he said he did to help out his neighbors; but I’m pretty sure he did it for fun, too.
Did you ever watch a tree wither and die?
That’s how it seemed my Dad died.
One year at a time.
One month at a time.
One week at a time.
One day at a time.
One hour at a time.
In that last hour, I was counting the minutes to when I could hit the button on the morphine pump one more time to ease his pain.
As I watched Dad change over the years, and as I sat with him that final hour, there were no Bible verses that came to my mind. There were no books on dealing with cancer that could keep me from sobbing on my Dad’s chest after he took his last breath.
Don’t get me wrong, I know that Bible verses of encouragement and books filled with suggestions for coping with pain can be helpful for many people in times like that.
But not for me. Not when the pain hits its peak.
What helped me most was God himself.
He came to me in different ways.
The night I sat alone in the hospital room beside my sleeping dad, while I stayed awake through dawn, Someone reminded me that I had never told my dad that he had been a good father to me.
Before Dad and I watched the morning fog lift in the courtyard outside his window, I spoke those words.
I saw God’s Spirit through the eyes of my mother, painting scenes of people in my family showing compassion to my dad while I lived 800 miles away.
One scene in particular, Mom described:
My dad was sitting on the floor beside the couch. He had climbed down to kneel and use the portable urinal. But he didn’t have the strength to get back up.
One of my brothers came to visit. He was big and burly and wearing a heavy winter coat. With his coat still on, he walked into living room, sat down on the floor beside my dad, and said, “Is it okay if I cry?”
It might seem strange, but I find comfort in those scenes because I see God there.
I don’t mean to diminish the Bible or books with great advice for dealing with a tough life.
But when life gives me its worst, I find that nothing less than God will do.
God comes to me.
He comes most often when his people come to me.
Words are fine, yet cold on paper. I need Someone warm beside me.
For Collette and all souls hurting, may God come to you through someone warm.