Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Death and Dying

I can say I have good news about Gene for the moment. After a very scary day Sunday where he was SO helpless, Monday he rebounded. From being hardly able to reposition himself in a chair, he is back to walking easily, to being alert, and able to do some care for himself. Such dramatic changes occurred over just a four day time frame. From being good, to being very ill and incapacitated, to being good again.

I try to read from scripture on a regular basis. It is especially helpful when life crisis occur. My readings over the last few days have certainly been relevant. On March 25, my reading from Psalms 68 led my focus to God's goodness: father to the fatherless, defender of widows, setting the lonely in families, leading forth prisoners with singing, and giving abundant showers, refreshing a weary inheritance. This was Saturday, Gene was home from the hospital, walking was tortuous. How could I see God's goodness in this situation? As I reflected and struggled with this concept, the thoughts came in my mind, that Gene is already on the road through the valley of the shadow of death. That this life struggle is really just the means God is using to transport Gene to the place that Jesus has prepared for him. My sister-in-law reminded me that our arrival into this world as babies requires a painful and traumatic struggle through a small birth canal. While I don't fully understand why some people go quickly and relatively painlessly through death and others have sometimes years of illness and struggle, I do believe that God appointed our time of birth and death before we were ever born. As humans, God gave us a strong desire to live. So many people live longer than we expect in their final stretch of life because of that strong will to live - whether it be to a desire not to desert loved ones or an actual fear of dying. Sometimes it is the family's prayers that keep someone alive, until it finally becomes apparent that it is time for the suffering to end. Both the dying person and the family have to come to a point where it is time to let go.

Yesterday's scripture read before I saw how well Gene was doing seemed so appropriate to our situation. From Psalm 69:

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck,
I sink in the miry depths,
where there is not foothold.
I have come into the deep waters,
the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help,
my throat is parched.
. . . . . . .
But I pray to you, O Lord, in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God, answer me up with your sure salvation,
Rescue me from the mire,
do not let me sink,
. . . . . . . .
Do not let the floodwaters engulf me
or the depths swallow me up
or the pit close its mouth over me.
Answer me, O Lord, out of the goodness of your love;
In your great mercy turn to me.
Do not hide your face from your servant;
Answer me quickly, for I am in trouble,
Come near and rescue me.

From Sunday's reading:
Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens.

And today's reading????
Words of praise also from Psalm 69
I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving
. . . . . .
Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and all that move in them.
for God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah.
Then people will settle there and possess it;
the children of his servants will inherit it,
and those who love his name will dwell there.

How can one not be encouraged by these words from God, even in the midst of the pain of losing a loved one?
In many things over the last few days, God has sent things to bring joy and peace in the midst of the grief.
Yes . . . . . God is good!

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