The lady who wrote this touching story did not attach her name, but having worked in a hospital as a chaplain it sounds very credible to me. It’s not so much the story, as it is the lesson it teaches us. I hope you appreciate her testimony as I did.

She tells us that her mother lay dying of an aggressive form of cancer for which no cure existed. She learned that a person never survived more than five years after being diagnosed with this type of cancer. Her mom was diagnosed at the age of 61 while living a vibrant, happy, enthusiastic life as a loving, caring woman. She fought this cancer with all her strength, submitting to an experimental operation to remove a tumor to give her a few more precious months here on Earth.

This lady, along with her sister and stepfather, cared for her mother after the operation, while painfully watching her waste away in the ICU of a wonderful national cancer center. She received the best care anyone could ask for. However, all three of their hearts ached as they watched her grow worse and worse, weaker and weaker. She reluctantly allowed herself to be put on life support with the promise that she would be taken off in order to go home soon. But weeks later, there seemed little hope she would ever be able to survive off the machines.

After long deliberations of tear-filled soul-searching for answers, all three of them decided that it was time to ask the hospital to allow them to take their beloved mother off life support and to let her die at home in dignity without pain. They promised her throughout their lives that they would never allow her to be kept alive as a vegetable on life-support machines, and they wanted to do their duty for her no matter how difficult and heart-wrenching they found it to be.

After days of meetings, the hospital ethics committee agreed with them that it was time to take their mother off life support. Together, the three of them stood around their mother’s bedside, more upset and stressed than they ever imagined because of having to make such a grief-filled decision. She remembers thinking, as she observed how distressed her sister and stepfather were, there were few situations on earth more challenging than the one they faced. Suddenly, she was filled with great love and empathy for family members of those on death row, waiting in a room to hear that their loved one was dead. She thought to herself, “I don’t know if I can’t take much more of this.”

Then the hospital chaplain, a member of the ethics committee, came hurriedly into the room. He said, “I’m very sorry to tell you this, but the ethics committee changed its mind. Your mother’s doctors withdrew their names from the committee and from your mother’s case. They said it feels like euthanasia to them. I must also tell you that there is great disagreement among other doctors on the committee who feel that your mother’s doctors are more interested in protecting their reputations than taking care of your mother and the three of you. We are going to have another meeting this afternoon. I will keep you posted on the outcome.”

She and her sister began to sob and cry, and her stepfather turned beet red with anger. She felt her own stress level climb to intolerable levels. In her mind, she silently cried out to God, “ O Lord! If you have any more strength to give me, I need it more than ever. I need Your help right now or I won’t be able to get through this and to help my family to get through this! Please God, Help me, God! Please!”

Suddenly felt faint and slumped toward the floor. Then just as quickly, it felt like she was being transported from her mother’s hospital room. She found herself standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking a green and gold colored ocean heaving with huge waves. The air felt soft as velvet against her skin and a light seemed to cover her like the finest silk cloth. Somehow, she knew in her heart that the ocean was infinitely wide and infinitely deep. She knew inside herself that the strength of God was surrounding her. Suddenly someone like an angel behind her leaned over her shoulder and whispered in her ear with a soft and loving voice, “Take as much strength as you need.”

At that moment, she opened her eyes and found herself still standing up in the room with her emotional, grieving, distressed family, Then she experienced the strength she just prayed for flood into her body and soul. Miraculously she made it through the rest of the afternoon and into the evening as the hospital ethics committee went through the processes they needed in order to feel comfortable in allowing them to take their mother off life support.

Together, they remained there as a family fulfilling their promise to their mother, making sure she received the support she needed to gracefully leave this planet surrounded by love. For this lady, the words of that angel, “Take as much as you need” remains to this day such a loving invitation and one she’s remembered many times since then, especially whenever she begins to doubt the infinite love of God. And one day she hopes to thank, in person, the angel whose gentle, supportive voice whispered those words into her ear.

Maybe your personal experience was not the same as this lady’s, nor perhaps will such a heartbreaking situation face you with equal pain and devastation. But the God who heard her prayer and sent the angel to whisper such hope in her ear is still the same. Always keep in mind, just like Job of old in the Bible, God never takes away from your past without replacing what you lost with something you’ll need for the future. As the old song goes, you may not know about tomorrow, but the One who holds tomorrow holds your hand, so take as much strength as you need, He’s ready to give it to you. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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