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Posts Tagged ‘pain’

It’s possible that very soon my friend, Gladys, will be called home.  Poison in her system cannot be contained.  Her kidneys are shutting down.  Her lungs are weary.  She is in pain.  My friend is impatient to go home, yet — a faithful servant of God to the end — she does not ask anyone to send her before her time.

What Gladys does ask is that she be kept as pain-free as possible.  In an article I wrote years ago, I quoted Dr. Matthew Conolly.  He acknowledged that the greatest fear of most patients — and, thus, the reason that “mercy killing” or euthanasia grows ever popular — is pain.  Too many physicians believe their most important role is to heal or cure.  When they cannot, the patient may become a reminder of the doctor’s “failure.”  At such times, some physicians abandon the patient.  What they could do, as Dr. Conolly pointed out, is learn the art of caring for the patient even when the prognosis is not good.  What they could do is to learn the art of pain control.  Appropriate pain control does not hasten death, but brings dignity to both patient and family.

Today, my friend’s daughter — my dear friend, Rita — is talking to the hospital chaplain and hospice care workers.  Rita does not want to decide when her mother should die.  That is up to God.  But, she does want to do all she can to keep her mother comfortable.

I am reminded of a story I’ve shared when speaking about end-of-life issues.  A pastor’s wife, in her battle against cancer, was undergoing extensive treatment.  She was placed on a rubber cooling blanket to keep her temperature down.  It was very uncomfortable.  “I don’t know if I can stand this,” she told her husband.  “If you cannot,” he told her, “tell the nurses you want to discontinue this treatment.”  Then, anxious and exhausted, he left to get a few hours sleep.  When he returned, he was greeted by a nurse.  “Boy, does you wife have something to tell you.”  The pastor rushed in to his wife’s room where he found her smiling.  “What happened?” he asked.  “It was wonderful,” she said.  Sometime after you left, I could bear it no more.  I prayed that God lift me from this suffering.  And, you know what?  Angels appeared.  I felt warm; snug as a bug.  I slept.”

Does God know our pain?  Does He hear us when we ask for comfort?  For strength to endure?  For courage?  Think about Jesus as He was preparing to take on the sins of the world.  On the night He was betrayed, He took His disciples with Him to the garden.  He told them, “Do not fall into temptation, but pray.”  Then He went off by Himself.  He was in anguish.  His sweat was like drops of blood.  “Father,” He prayed, “if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”  Do you know what happened?  An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.  (Luke 22:39-43)

When our physicians cannot heal, may we encourage them to comfort.  To seek better pain control.

And, when we feel that we are falling into temptation — ready to ask someone to end our life and send us on our way home — may we, instead, call upon the Great Physician.  The One who knows pain.  Who carried sorrow.  Who endured every whip and lash for our benefit.  If God heard the plea of His own dear Son, Jesus Christ, and sent an angel to strengthen Him, won’t He also hear us?  Won’t He give us exactly what we need, when we need it, until His work through us is done?

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Some say, “How could a woman end the life of her child?”  This statement is not intended to be cruel, but it is heard as a  judgment.

Others, hoping to be less judgmental, say, “I would never have have an abortion myself, but I believe every woman should have the right to choose.”  This statement sounds compassionate, but to the woman who has had the abortion, it sounds like a comparison: “Abortion is wrong and because I am a good person I wouldn’t do such a terrible thing, but women not capable of doing the right thing should have a choice.”

Both statements are condeming.  Neither offer hope before or after an abortion.

There is a third response.  Trying to imitate Jesus.  Jesus understands why people like you and me sin.  He came to live among us —  to feel our frustration, fears, and sorrow.  He placed Himself in the midst of a messy world.  Jesus loved us so much that He willingly took on our disgrace, our burden, our sin.  Only by living under His Cross am I able to see those hurt by sin (including my own) in a new way.

Days on which we celebrate life are meant to be happy days, but for many they are not.  In the heart of nearly every post-abortive woman is an empty place that is forever expectant and waitiing.  Although she may have believed the lie that there was no room, a cry of sorrow echoes in the room that was always there… waiting.

We cannot go back to erase years of legalized abortion nor the effect on women, men, children, and society.  Mothers who once believed there was no room in their life for a baby now mourn the child whose heart beat so close under their own.  Fathers who once believed there was no room in their life for a baby are now angry at themselves for failing to protect their son or daugher.  Grandparents who once believed there was no room in their lives for a baby now dream of grandchildren that would have filled the rooms of their homes with laughter.

Sometimes, when I am holding my grandsons, my thoughts turn to Mary.  She approached me after I was finished speaking to a group of women.  She asked for my address and phone number.  In the letters and conversations that followed, she confessed two abortions.  “There has been so much pain in my heart,” Mary wrote.  “I could understand how God could forgive a murderer, but not someone who has killed their own child.”

This pain and the belief that she had committed the sin “too big to be forgiven” held Mary captive.  But, “the reason I want to tell you my story,” Mary continued, “is to thank you.  If, years earlier, I had heard the words of compassion and forgiveness that I heard from you, I would not have had a second abortion.  I would have been reconciled to God and turned my life around a lot earlier instead of wallowing in the muck of sin and accusation.”

“Marys” are everywhere… and they are waiting.  They are silently waiting for a word of hope.  Their broken hearts long to be healed.  God has given to me — to you — His Word to speak in love.  To be sure, the Word of Truth presses hard on the source of pain.  The psalmist (Psalm 32:3-5) writes:

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.  Then I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”

There is hope for women and men who have been pierced by abortion’s blade.  It is Jesus.  In Jesus, all who confess their sin are cleansed and forgiven (1 Timothy 1:15).  In Jesus, the captive is set free (Galatians 5:1).

(The thoughts of this post are available in a
brochure form upon request from Word of Hope or LFL.)

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