“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:
As I sit in Intensive Care watching my dad breathe on his own, I am overflowing with gratitude for God’s merciful love–no more tubes! . It has been six days since he was rushed to the Emergency Room; six days since my brother and I were confronted with making a life or death choice. The options my brother and I faced were to treat the pneumonia or watch our father die within a few hours. The question we were asked was, “What is his quality of life?'” Certainly, at eighty-six Dad has slowed down considerably and on some days demonstrates signs of dementia. But just six hours before, as I left him at his assisted-living apartment, he winked at me and said, “I love you” when I knew he was feeling lousy.
It is funny how the mind works during times of crisis. As I watched Dad struggle to breathe through the night, I saw flashbacks of him in my mind–black and white photos of him marched through my mind as a much younger man playing his trumpet . . . as a machine gunner in Korea . . . and as a hard working husband and father, Losing Mom eight months ago was hard, but he had responded well to the outreach of others and seemed to be doing well until he got sick three weeks ago. He had been using a walker but became so sick and weak he had been using a wheel chair the previous week. “Quality of life?” It’s all in how you look at it.
I also thought about my friend and fellow blogger Bill, at Unshakable Hope. Bill was diagnosed with ALS sixteen years ago. Through his illness God has used Bill to love and encourage his family, friends and countless people around the world with a message that underscores God’s faithfulness. In his most recent post he wrote a wonderful tribute to his wife Mary as the greatest Christian he has ever known. “Quality of life” for Bill? I cannot presume to answer for him, but I believe it would be safe to say that Bill’s courage and determination to trust in the God he loves has made an incredible difference.
As night turned into morning, even as Dad’s numbers improved on the myriad of machines that surrounded him and he began to respond to the antibiotics–we struggled–were we doing the right thing? Prayer kept us moving forward but we worried, “What if he ends up needing oxygen for the rest of his life . . . or worse?” It was at that point when I wondered, “How did we get to the place where death has become the preferred option in the name of ‘quality of life?'”
In our cultural preference for youth and all things material, it seems we have lost sight of God’s orderly plan for the seasons of our lives. That long dark night with my dad, when I fretted about making the wrong decision, I lost sight of God’s perfect plan being worked out for our family. Even so, God continued to work despite my fears and doubts, bringing us to a deeper appreciation for His faithfulness. This morning, as I reflect on the past week I have regained that strength and confidence that rests in His Sovereign Goodness. Psalm 46 is a Psalm that ministers to those in crisis as it directs us to find rest for our souls in Him:
“Quality of life?” It’s all in how you look at it!
All to His Glory!