|The Rose Bush Donated and Planted in Our Garden in Honor of Mom|
Tubes hung from my mother’s limp body while monitors beeped and clicked the hidden conditions of her heart, lungs, respirations, blood pressure, and other bodily functions. I stared blankly out the window of her Intensive Care room and then looked lovingly back at her.
It was not supposed to go this way. Although the surgery was complex, especially for an 84-year-old woman, the surgeon had reassured us that the recovery would take about one week or more in the hospital. Then Mom would be transferred to a skilled nursing facility where she would spend two weeks gaining back her strength and come home. He was an excellent vascular surgeon. Had operated on my mother before. And had successful experience with this complicated surgery on several patients my mother’s age.
At my mother’s emphatic request, we had taken her from Arizona back to California (our former home) just to have this surgeon operate on her. Her recovery and ability to survive the surgery depended a great deal on her confidence in the doctor. My husband and I prayed about the decision, learned as much as we could about the surgery, talked to relatives who were doctors. We had peace from the Lord that going back to California for Mom’s surgery was the right decision.
So, why was I standing there alone in her hospital room? Weeks past what had been expected to be her discharge date. My mother had hit almost every bad complication that could have come out of this surgery. Congestive heart failure, fluid oozing from every pore, infection throughout her body, fluid in her lungs from the infection, and organs such as liver, pancreas, and kidneys sliding into the danger zone. Had we made the wrong decision?
My mind pondered the inevitable second guessing. Had we weakened her immune system by stopping at the zoo on our way to California? Had the nursing staff pushed her too fast and too long to sit up two days after severe surgery? Why were the doctors so slow in picking up on her problems? Why did I have to point out the things that were overlooked?
Looking back would not solve the problem, I realized. I turned my attention again to the Lord, crying out to Him and praying every Scripture on healing I could find. Mom had “coded”, nearly died, the morning of that day when I stared out the window, emotionally drained. The crash cart had sped into Intensive Care while my best friend and I hugged, prayed, and cried in the waiting room.
“This is not what the Lord showed me,” my best friend sobbed. Every fiber of my being wanted to believe she had heard from the Lord that Mom would pull through, but the heaviness in the room and among the staff had shouted at me to face reality.
I called my cousins, more like brothers, and they came immediately. It was the second time since Mom’s surgery that an emergency call had gone out to them. Then I phoned the pastor from our California church and he came over to pray. He led me into Mom’s room and we interceded to the Lord on her behalf. Pour out your heart’s requests to the Lord, he prompted me. And then trust her into His hands, he added gently.
My heart wrestled with the idea of letting go of Mom. Thoughts had bombarded my heart and my mind.
How could I “trust You (Lord) because what You want and what I want look vastly different,” I recorded in my journal. “I want my Mom restored to health and You aren’t healing her.
“Lord, I want to direct you. I want to make You heal her….If I give up hope now and surrender Mom unto your will, I feel like I will have let her down. I feel like I’m carrying her on my every prayer…” my heart wrote, broken and stubborn in its words. It’s like all of our prayers. Longing for the desires of our heart and hoping that God’s will conforms to ours.
The Labor Day weekend ahead was drastically different from what we had planned as a family. My husband and our boys had changed their original flight plans from a fun weekend wading in tide pools and body surfing to a “be-prepared-for-the-worst” emergency flight into California.
When my husband and I had some quiet moments, we prayed and agonized over the “what ifs” and “how to handle different scenarios” the entire weekend, nerves shredded like frayed fabric. But one thing we knew for sure. Mom was Catholic and she would want a priest to bless her with the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick We hoped it wouldn’t be “and of the Dying:”
I called the Catholic Church that served this hospital and was greeted by a welcoming voice. The priest who answered the phone agreed to come over on the holiday and anoint my mother. Relief washed over me knowing the Lord’s hand was upon us.
Monday had arrived with no change in mother’s condition, machines pumping to keep her alive. We had arrived at Monday as indecisive as Mom’s condition. Only hours were left before my husband and the boys would once again board a plane and leave for Arizona. In early afternoon, the priest arrived–strikingly unorthodox in his sandals and beard. He had introduced himself and then headed for the locked doors leading into ICU. “Come with me,” he called to us.
We joined him at Mom’s bedside just as the technologist had completed his test and exited. The priest removed the oil from its pouch and began his prayer. Heads bowed, we focused on the Lord, all hearts united in holy breathing, entreating the Lord for a miracle. As we closed our prayer, suddenly Mom started coughing and breathing at a rate above the respirator’s pulses of oxygen to her lungs. Her eyes popped open, but they reflected anxiety not peace. The nurse came in and discovered more mucous that was blocking Mom’s ability to breathe. Yet her eyes had opened for the first time in three days. I rejoiced in this miracle of God’s hand.
“Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.” James 5:14&15 NIV
A new flame of faith flickered within. Perhaps I was witnessing these words of the Lord coming to pass before my eyes.
As we exited the room, the priest invited us to some healing services they were having at the church down the road. I began a new routine of dropping in at the weekly service, receiving the anointing and praying for the Lord to bless my mother. I would dash down the boulevard back to the hospital, stop by Mom’s bedside, tell her about the evening, swish my thumb across the oil remaining on my head and anoint my Mom’s forehead with a cross of oil. In soft, gentle tones, I would sing (off-key) a sweet Christian tune. Then I would read a few verses from different Scripture passages that spoke of healing. Closing the evening, I would pray, then whisper to her heart how much I loved her. With a bounce in my step, I would return to my friend’s home for another evening of rest. My friend who had not left my side one day during this trial.
Having been advised by the medical staff, I was encouraged to be at the hospital early each morning as the doctors made their rounds. Armed with questions, I fired my arsenal at each one, targeting their own specialty. The pulmonologist, the cardiologist, the infectious disease specialist, the kidney doctor, the gastroenterologist (treats stomach disorders), and once in a while the surgeon. Not all were there each day so each morning called for an extra amount of gumption to get there. Their answers–harsh and realistic. Dire predictions with one doctor even saying that if she made it through, it would be a miracle.
During this time, many friends both in California and Arizona were praying for us and for Mom. I was blessed to have Christian friends who were nurses and gave me expert information on medications and medical reports that would have baffled me otherwise. I contacted the doctor who had been our sons’ pediatrician in California and he counseled me on how to present the questions to the various doctors treating my Mom.
But the only One who had the power to heal her was the Lord. In my journal, I allowed the Lord to direct my heart. Over the Labor Day Weekend, when hope was almost gone, I also scribed to Jesus,
“What do you want to work in me during this time of sorrow and brokenness. Please don’t let me miss it. I want you to make me more spiritual, more mature but I don’t like the pain in getting there.”
During the next month and a half, there were setbacks mixed in with hope. I was riding the scariest roller coaster of my life. One day, the reports looked good and we had cheered with delight. The next day, they found a staph infection and our stomachs had flipped with nauseating despair.
Would she make it off the ventilator? A few tries had already proved her lungs too weak. How clear was her brain after the deep and long sleep the doctors had ordered that critical weekend to keep her body stable? When she had past the critical hurdle, Mom needed physical therapy to get the muscles working again. In fear, she cried that she would never be able to walk again.
When my worry and fear was mixed in with daily praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, I quieted my spirit and asked the Lord if He was going to heal her. In my spirit I was reminded of 2Corinthians 1:9
“But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” NIV
This was the prayer lifted to the heavens by many. The prayer to which the Lord graciously chose to say, “Yes” in our lives.
There is no formula. No directing the Lord to grant the desire of our hearts. No claiming of Scriptures that will produce a healing.
There is the will of God. The surrendering of our brokenness, our anger, our despair, and, finally, our hearts to the Lord. There is the quiet time in prayer and His word–a time of conversation, a time to speak our piece and a time to listen. There is a daily praising God for the smallest of details from not having to pay for hospital parking one day to the thanksgiving sung from rooftops when the doctor’s declare: “This is a miracle.”
“Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” Psalm 105:2-4 NIV
What has been your experience with prayers answered by God with a resounding, “Yes’? What miracles have you seen? Which miracles are you still waiting to see happen?
|We were blessed with four more years of life with my mother after her surgery.|
From My Heart to Yours,
a repost from the archives
Other posts in the series on prayer include: