A Word to the Dying
Suffering from roller-coaster emotions?
I wish I could tell you some sweet little words that would make it better. But I can’t. You are on a long, hard journey. But you are not alone.
When you’re reduced to nothing but grit… and even that is diminishing, God promises to hold you in His tender care and stand tough on your behalf. Watch His light shine brightest in your darkness.
To the Terminally Ill:
Hold hands with God; He knows the way. Do everything you know to do; then leave the rest to the all-powerful One. Let Him choose your path. He will give you light enough for the step you’re on.
He’s up all night. When you’re awake from your meds and worries about your family and future, tell Him about what’s on your mind. Fade to sleep knowing He’s thinking about you, listening, holding you ‘til morning. Don’t lose hope. You never know; He might be in the middle of solving some of your worries.
When your brain replays some of the possible scenarios spoken by your doctors, don’t fill in the blanks with faith-blinding worry. Fill in the blanks with God’s truth instead. If doctors say you’re getting sicker, remind yourself that no matter what happens, God’s in your bod, and He is in control! There’s a rare and special peace that accompanies the one who is able to let go of the outcome and trust that “Father knows best.”
If you’re afraid you’ll never get your life back, remind yourself that feelings aren’t facts. The One who sticks with you like glue will lead you through this mess. He has the map and He promises to direct you to His perfect will.
This craziness didn’t take God by surprise. He knew it was coming, and He allowed it for reasons you can’t see ~ yet. God led the Psalmist, David through the valley of the shadow of death. God cooked him a meal before his enemies. He even gave him friends for the journey. Goodness and Mercy.
Who has God assigned to your life? Turn your thoughts to them, looking beyond the arrows of depression and despair. God can restore peace to you as you move through this with Him. God can walk between you and your problems.
Three ways to let God restore your peace:
1. The Bible says God sits enthroned in the praises of His people. Let God have the throne of your life no matter where you are. Take an I-pod full of worship music into your hospital room, chemo lounge and your home. This can help you fill in the blanks with God songs instead of anxious worry.
2. Be who you are. It’s so easy to feel like you equal your disease, especially with medical staff who might treat you more like a number or an illness rather than a beloved child of a creative and passionate God. So bring pictures of your family to al your hospital stays and set them up in your room. And if you can, bring your own pillow and some fun or fancy pajamas just so you can stay in touch with reality.
3. Ask God to reveal Himself and send you His love in the midst of your difficulties. Then, each day, look for all the ways He shows up. For instance, a note from a friend, a Bible verse that jumps off the page, someone that helps with your rent, a story from someone else’s journey that helps you through the day, a good laugh with a close friend, a good cry when you feel God’s arms around you. God works through all of these things and more. He’s right next to you.
To Family Members of the Suffering:
As much as it is possible, help your loved ones laugh. In the world of a sick person, everyone wants to hurt them. Needle pokes, surgeries and toxic medicines can all suck the life out of us. But a good laugh can help offset the insanity of the physical and mental pain. Like Caribou Coffee says, learn how to “make time for silly.”
Let your loved ones move through their difficult feelings (anger, shock, depression…) They’re a normal part of loss. Don’t minimize the raw nature of human emotions. Let your loved one feel them for what they are. Let them fight, cry, rage. Maybe all at the same time.
Stand by their side, reminding them that God has a plan. Say, “I’m with you through thick and thin, no matter what God’s plan involves.” When they’re not at their best, say, “I remember who you are.”
If it looks like their battle won’t be won until heaven, help them die well. Give them permission to let go and move on with Christ.
Plan their departure with pizazz. Help them make a good-bye video. You can even plan the funeral service with them. Help them write letters to friends and family.
I was privileged to know a brave, terminally ill cancer patient who decided to have his funeral before he died. Perhaps this could be a sweet, memorable choice for your loved ones too. It gives them a chance to say goodbye to far-away friends and thank them in person.
Please don’t forget to make some room for yourself too. Cry, rage, give up and fight. It’s all a normal part of your grief journey too.
I’ve been there.
More importantly, God IS there.
To the Kids of the Suffering:
Hi special one;
For whatever reason God has allowed you to bear this burden, so you might be really mad at Him. And I mean really mad!! Go ahead and tell Him your worries. He can handle it. He holds you in His arms. Rage and kick and spit. It’s all good. Your loss is huge, and will be something you remember for the rest of your life.
Here’s what I know: Not only do you have some super scary things to deal with; I also know you will be stronger than other kids when you do. Life forced you to grow up ahead of time. No worries… Unlike most kids, you’ll get a close up glimpse of God as He moves in your life. He promises to be a dad to those who don’t have one… so you’re pretty special with God as your new, lifetime parent!
Death is a big deal to God, kiddo. He’ll reveal Himself to you and your family in amazing ways. I promise. As you move through this horrible loss, don’t stop! Keep moving!! God has a master plan laid out for your life; and I don’t want you to waste a minute of it.
Live your life, from this minute forward, in honor of your mom or dad. Give yourself in service and memory of them in all you do. If you can, work with others who have walked this same dark path.
Some day you’ll be privileged to shine light into another kid’s heart, perhaps even to someone who has dealt with similar grief.
Remember, even if your parent makes it to heaven before you, you’ll be together again.
God holds your parent, and God is holding you. When you’re not together in body, you’re together in spirit. Wherever you are, you’re always safe when you’re with Jesus.
You know what, friend? I personalized the 23rd Psalm just for you!
1 I, The LORD, am your shepherd, you will lack nothing.
2 I will make you lie down in green pastures,
I, myself will lead you beside quiet waters,
3 I will refresh your soul. I personally will guide you
along the right paths for My name’s sake.
4 Even though you walk through the darkest valley,
You don’t need to fear any evil, for I am with you
My rod and My staff, they will comfort you.
5 I myself will prepare a table before you
in the presence of your enemies. (like cancer and other calamities)
I will anoint your head with oil; I will cause your cup to overflow.
6 Surely My goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life,
and you will dwell in My house forever.
Here’s a poem from my friend, Cheryl’s book, “A Friend in the Storm”. She too writes from Christ’s perspective:
Poked inside this wind-licked fire
like a piece of molten glass,
letting prods and pliers take you
in for yet another pass…
Your smoked-color bends to beauty
‘til you’re clearly made My vase,
held together most transparent,
showing off, through you, My face.
© Zondervan 2010