Walking into the ICU room, it took our breath away to see the man hooked to seemingly every machine the hospital had available for keeping someone alive. There was the breathing machine, inserted directly into his neck in the trachea, the filtration (dialysis), removing all the blood from his body, eliminating the fluid from the it, then putting the dry blood back into the body. The body responds by saying, “Hey! I have no fluid in this!” and goes into emergency mode, pulling fluid from arms, legs, hands–wherever it can, in order to keep the blood flowing and to keep his body from filling with fluid. The IV’s were providing some nourishment–not enough, but some. Because of the throat tube, he could not speak nor swallow–only small ice chips which could run down his throat were able to be in his mouth. Talking was not possible.
By the time we left, our hearts had been wrung to the point of despair. He is not an old man, being kept alive at the whim of family, but a virile, middle-aged man, whose thinking processes are alert and high. He is aware of everything said around him, and able to interact with lip movement. It was hard to learn to lip-read in an hour, but we did the best we could.
Everyone says, “Don’t keep me alive by machines!” In this case, it is necessary. The problem? The doctors aren’t sure. His breathing, when it stopped originally, caused the family to call 911, and the rest has been almost seven months in the hospital, trying to find a diagnosis.
When we got home, I began praying “fervently.” That means you recognize God is the only one Who can do anything and man’s wisdom is wholly reliant upon Him. I prayed for just ONE doctor who would go home at night, with the thought of this father, husband, son and brother not able to move, talk, or eat, and search every book known to man for an answer–but above all, one who would seek the Healer to give wisdom.
We went back a few days later, while the doctor was in, along with several other members of a team who were changing bags, adding medication, and doing everything in their power to help him. As the doctor was leaving, a member of his family stopped him to say, “He’s nervous about what you’ve been saying; can you explain to him?” The doctor stopped at the foot of the bed and in strong, direct words said, “Don’t worry–it’s all simple [what he had been doing and saying]! Everything is looking good,” and then he explained the medication, the numbers in the tests, and more. He exuded strength and knowledge. The patient took him at his word. When he left, the family member said to us, “He’s the best doctor we could have gotten. He told us he goes home at night, and has cried tears before God, asking for wisdom for what is wrong, and how to heal him.”
My mouth fell open as I told her that is exactly, to the letter, what I’ve been praying! God had shown me in one sentence that He had heard my prayer, and was answering that one. The rest? That everything will turn out the way we want it? I don’t know yet. But God does–and He will answer in His time, and in His way.
Do you think we’re the first people to cry out to God: “God, help me to believe You are here with me! Increase my faith! God, PLEASE, show me You love me!”? No. Does it help you to know that your deepest Valley of the Shadow is one that was walked by even King David himself, as well as countless others? In Psalm 86:16, 17, David cries out, “O, turn to me and have mercy on me! Give Your strength to Your servant and save the son of Your maidservant. Show me a sign for good, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed, because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me!” David was crying out, “God, show me You love me!”
David went through many trials–we don’t know if God showed up on this occasion, whatever it was, or if His answer was “wait,” or “no.” That’s where trust comes in. That is where faith gets proactive, and not pew-active. That’s where the rubber meets the road. Are you going to trust that whatever He does is right, or are you going to manipulate things so that it goes your way? It always comes back to a choice for us–sometimes so hard we want to throw a tantrum, and sometimes it shows us our heart.
May we all say, “Please, God, increase my faith! Increase my trust!”