I just ran into the husband of a patient I cared for a few years ago. She was in the hospital a long, long, long time. He was a Christian man, and was always confident that his wife would be healed of her very advanced cancer that had metastasized everywhere. My co-workers and I had found it very difficult to care for her, watching her suffer tremendously in pain as we turned her or bathed her. Any movement caused excruciating pain, and her husband insisted that she did not need pain medication. This not only made our days and nights difficult, but also sparked many, many conversations regarding just WHY God allows us to suffer, to be diagnosed with cancer, to die horribly painful and sometimes lonely deaths.
I remember him being very angry with staff at the suggestion of palliative and hospice care. He yelled once at us, and said that we would see her leave healthy and return walking to show us that God heals. We really wanted that to happen. But God did not heal her, and we watched sadly as she passed, and her husband fell to his hands and knees yelling at God. I remember it. I remember it like it was yesterday. “Why did you do this to me God? Why? Why didn’t you heal her?” Everyone on our floor heard him crying out to God. It was heart-breaking to watch, knowing there were no words or explanations that would comfort him.
I also remember that several weeks later, that man returned to our floor with a Bible that had his wife’s name engraved on it. As it turned out, the cleaning lady had been having conversations with him, and he had been telling her about salvation each time she was mopping the floor. He wanted her to have a Bible, and encouraged her to find a church. I know that young lady, and not long after that she came to church. She still had the Bible in the box he gave it to her in, and she clung to it as if it were gold. I have often wondered about her, and what she is up to these days.
When I ran into this man today, he remembered me immediately. He stopped shopping. He put his basket down on the floor. He cupped both of my hands in his and he started to cry, and then he apologized. I nearly fell on the floor. He said that he has thought so much about the days he was by his wife’s side, and he realized that it was not the health care workers’ faults that his wife died, and that we had, indeed, cared for her in an outstanding manner, and that he will be eternally grateful. He then shared a few private things with me about his walk with the Lord since then, and summed it up by telling me that he has learned that God really does know what is best for us. He said “Sometimes, Rita, God says no. We may never understand why his answer is no until we see Him face to face. But FAITH is believing that even in the unanswered prayers, He ALWAYS has the best interest of His children in mind.”
The man referenced 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, where Paul had a thorn in his side from Satan, and asked God to remove it. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Then, he told me that his new prayer of thankfulness has become, “Thank you, Lord, for not always taking my advice.”
I thought that was simply brilliant. I was so touched that he remembered me, and even more so that he asked me to pass on to my co-workers his apology, and his sincere gratitude.
And now – I’m going to call my cleaning lady friend I have not talked to for a while, and see what she’s been up to.