“If God is so powerful, why doesn't he ….?” I would venture to guess that each of us has either heard this, said this, or felt this, at some point in our life. The context is usually some sad or terrible circumstance that left the one asking feeling broken and hurt.
I would like to share a story of redemption. I do not pretend that my one story universally proves a point--although I do believe that God's redemptive power is indeed universally possible. When he doesn't remove the circumstance, he can redeem the pain.
My mother died. She lived with us for 7 years. Health up and down, but mostly down and declining. Usually the decline was slow, but she would occasionally have a big drop and then that would become the new normal until the next drop. The last six months she was quite ill, the last four months, on hospice.
5 weeks to the day after mom left, the mother of my dear friend and neighbor went to heaven as well. I was honored to be a part of those final days and hours.
I have a disturbing fluency in skills no one wants to know.
Rolling, turning, changing, adjusting pillows, crushing pills, filling syringes.
Taking minutes to dispense just a few drops, carefully, so as not to choke the throat of one who can no longer swallow.
Swabbing the dry mouth, relieving the cracked lips.
Setting the mood of the room, flowers, music, light levels, even scents.
Tone of voice, gentle touch, stroking the hair. Enough to let you know I'm here, but not enough to disturb or overwhelm.
The relationship with death. It is our enemy, but it is inevitable.
Can I come to a truce?
I cannot control the fact that it comes, but perhaps can control how it takes you?
I will not let you feel fear, or pain, or loneliness, although, we all know that the last step you must indeed take alone.
At least alone from my perspective. I pray not from yours.
Loved ones, angels, God himself? Surely someone is there to take your hand in the moment I must let go. Anything else would be too cruel.
But now what? When life has revolved around care for so long, what does one do with these accumulated proficiencies, this unwanted expertise?
I have my family, they need me, but a different part of me. This part, with its particular set of skills, feels useless now, vestigial.
But then comes a call, “I need help, I cannot.”
It is ok dear friend, because I can.
I step up and say, “wait, I know this one!”
I will hold her, touch her, love her like my own.
I perform the tasks so you are free to hold her hand.
And in this way, I find redemption.
My pain becomes a blessing.
My grief is assuaged.
I have a lifetime's worth of skill but only one mother to spend it on.
God in his wisdom, in his grace, mercifully gave me another.