“Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’”—
ONE of the greatest lessons we learn in the hospice ministry is the truth that God has given us victory over death through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus raised Larazus from the dead but Lazarus died again. In contrast, Jesus died and rose from the dead so that we can be born again.
It is unfortunate we are so “earth- bound” that we are troubled by any talk about death and dying. It is a paradox that Christians try so hard to convert the non- Christians so that the non-Christians will go to heaven but Christians themselves do not seem to want to go to heaven.
Recently, the Lord showed me His faithfulness as I cared for a middle-aged woman dying from cancer. Her faithfulness was an inspiration to me. Her concern was not for her own life but on how she could glorify God. She told me that God would either heal her or take her home.
Her struggle was not with death but how she could remain faithful to the Lord in the face of pain, suffering and death. The Lord provided for all her needs and each time I visited her, my faith in the Lord was strengthened by the joy and peace that surrounded her as she laid bedbound in her room and by the love of her husband and daughters.
When I went to church on Sunday, two days after her death, the words of the last stanza of the hymn, “My Jesus, I Love Thee”, brought her to mind. I felt the Lord telling me that she is:
In mansions of glory and endless delight; I’ll ever adore thee in heaven so bright; I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow; If ever I loved thee, my Jesus, ’tis now. And when the pianist played the song, “Precious Lord, take my hand”, during the time of prayer, I was reminded of the morning on the day she died when I shared the words of this song with her husband.
Our bishop, Bishop Dr Robert Solomon was also sharing the message, “God Is Faithful”, and he made the point that God’s ways are better than our ways even though they may be through paths of suffering. How true this had been in the life and death of this lady. As we care and pray for the sick and the dying, it is so important not to focus our attention only on the physical cure of the illness. From the years he spent in the ministry of prayer and healing, Dr. J. C. McPheeters found that there are in fact five miracles of healing.
First, there is the miracle of instant cure which most of us are preoccupied with. It is of course exciting to see people instantly healed by prayer.
Second, we forget that there is also the miracle of God’s undertaking for God has created our bodies in such a way that the body will repair itself. We forget that we are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made. We forget that it is God who heals and the doctors collect the bills! Third, there is the miracle of God’s guidance to a remedy. We read in 2 Kings 20:1-7 of how the Lord led Isaiah to heal Hezekiah’s boil with a poultice of figs.
Patients suffering from chronic, incurable and life limiting diseases are often bombarded with advice for all kinds of treatment. For example, patients with cancer will be asked by their doctors to decide whether they want to have surgery, chemo-therapy or radiotherapy. Relatives and well-meaning friends will also recommend other alternative forms of treatment such as herbs, diet, vitamins, acupuncture and so on. In the midst of such confusion, we truly need the miracle of God’s guidance to a remedy.
The fourth miracle is the miracle of the sufficiency of God’s grace and this was so well demonstrated in the lives of so many of our care receivers who struggle against all odds to add life to their years in the face of pain, suffering and disabilities.
Finally, there is the miracle of the tri-umphant crossing – when we face death with the blessed assurance that we are going home to our “mansions in glory”.
The truth is that we cannot truly live until we come to terms with our own death and dying. Jesus came to set us free from the fear of death which keeps us in bond-age to the evil one (Hebrews 2:14-15).
The hospice ministry is NOT about dying but about living the abundant life in the midst of pain and suffering so that we may “know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead”. (Philippians 3:10-11).
Since July 2004, the Methodist Hospice Fellowship (MHF) has been organising training sessions for caregivers of those who are suffering from incurable and life-limiting diseases such as cancer. Its mission is to help such patients and their fami-lies make each day count so that they can live fully even in the face of death, disability and suffering.
The MHF will be con-ducting a series of training sessions on the five miracles of healing from February 2005. Those interested in at-tending these sessions can contact Ms Teresa Lee or Mrs Mary Kee at 6314-1580.
Dr Patrick Kee is a doctor with the Methodist Hospice Fellowship.