Life lessons from hospital patients
Copyright by Bob Rogers.
In my hospital ministry, I often ask patients what lessons they have learned. Here are a few of the wise words that I have heard, with limited details about the patients to protect their identity:
Elderly man with COVID-19. “They almost lost me, but the Lord still has a plan for me.” He was discharged a few days later.
Middle-aged woman who survived a car wreck, hit by a drunk driver: “Don’t take life for granted. It could all change in a moment.”
Elderly man with terminal cancer diagnosis: “Be ready to meet God.”
Elderly woman, retired educator, with congestive heart failure: “Do the right thing, treat people right; let be and let God.”
Elderly woman with kidney failure: “Live one day at a time.”
Elderly man in therapy, unable to move legs: “I don’t need money; I just need friends, and people to pray for me.”
Elderly female with multiple medical problems: “Accept what you get.”
Recently retired female pt who may need heart by-pass. “When I was little and there was a storm, mama put us children in a room together and said, ‘When God is doing His work, we be quiet.’” The patient explained that this became a motto for coping with trials: “When God is doing His work, we be quiet.”
Middle-aged female pt who nearly died in the ICU, slowly recovered and went to a room. “Just because life is hard, don’t give up.”
Younger middle-aged female pt who had a seizure and wrecked her car, and went through months of surgeries for broken bones. “I choose joy.”
Recently retired female pt who was told two months ago that she has breast cancer. “Don’t feel sorry for me. God’s got this. I’m not taking God down off His pedestal. What God can’t do, there ain’t no doing.”
Teenage male pt who had surgery for torn ligaments from football practice. “Everything happens for a reason.”
Middle-aged female pt who had a blood clot in the brain. “You can get glad or mad in the same pair of breeches.”
Middle-aged female pt who was in the hospital for a long time, recovering from COVID-19. “Learn to lean on God.”
Younger middle-aged female pt who spent over a month in rehab after spine surgery. “Don’t sweat the petty stuff. Prayer gets you through.”
Senior adult female who had a stroke. “The same God who did miracles for people in the Bible is getting me through this.”
Elderly man with leukemia, going home on hospice. “Money doesn’t mean anything when you leave this earth, and I have some money. The only thing that matters is that you know Jesus.”
John 10:10 as displayed in classic films
Copyright by Bob Rogers.
What do classic films about a dying boxer, an Italian Jew and his son in a concentration camp, and a composer insanely jealous of Mozart have to do with John 10:10-11?
John 10:10 says that the thief comes to “steal, kill and destroy.”
In the 1984 movie Amadeus, about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the composer Salieri is insanely jealous of Mozart’s God-given talent, and will do anything to take it away.
In the 1997 Italian movie Life Is Beautiful, the Nazis take an Italian Jewish man and his son to a concentration camp to kill him.
In the 2004 movie Million Dollar Baby, a female boxer has a permanent injury and asks her trainer to pull the plug on her and destroy her life.
All of these are the attitude of the thief, old “red legs,” as Frank Pollard called him– the devil. The thief promises you a better life through legalism or drugs or alcohol or gambling or sex, or promises your life will escape problems through abortion, euthanasia or suicide. But these are all false hopes.
Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.” How is He able to give this life? As He says in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” I’m not saying this to recommend two hour, two-dimensional movies to you (although Life Is Beautiful is a wonderful film), but I do recommend Jesus Christ, who will give you a multi-dimensional, abundant life on earth and eternal life in heaven.
How do I deal with the suicide of someone I love?
Article copyright 2017 by Bob Rogers
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” — Romans 8:31,35, 37-39 (ESV)
Why did he or she commit suicide? Could I have done something to prevent it? Most of us have asked these questions when someone we love has committed suicide. While there are no easy answers, the Bible gives us help in this time of grief.
Let me suggest several truths that can help.
1) Guard against being judgmental.
This is not a time to judge the friends, family, and certainly not a time to judge the one who took his or her life. No one knows the pressures or problems another person faces. Jesus taught us, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” (Matthew 7:1, KJV) It will not help to judge others, nor to judge yourself.
You may have repeated the word “if.” If only I (or someone else) had said something or done something different, perhaps she or he would not have taken that precious life. Martha used the word “if.” In John 11, Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus was dying and they sent for Jesus to heal him, but Lazarus died before Jesus arrived. In John 11:21, “Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'” But “if” is about the past. “If” cannot bring the loved one back, and it will not help us in the present.
Instead of asking “why?” or wondering “if,” we need to ask “what.” What can I do now? Jesus told Martha what she needed: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25, ESV)
So instead of asking, “why,” let’s ask “what.” What can we do to be better because of this?
2) Hold on to our hope in Christ.
There is no point in ignoring the elephant in the room. So let’s address the matter directly. Is suicide a sin? Yes, it is. Is suicide the unpardonable sin? No, it is not. There are so many reasons why we should not take our own lives, which I will discuss in a moment, but the Bible does not teach that suicide cannot be forgiven. Mark 3:28-30 says that all sins can be forgiven, except for blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit refers to rejecting the Spirit’s call on us to follow Christ; this is not referring to taking one’s own life.
Our salvation is not based on the way we die, but based on the One who died for us.
3) God brings good out of the bad.
When Jesus died on the cross, the disciples thought their world had come to an end, and Jesus had been defeated. But instead, God was using it to forgive our sins, and then God raised Jesus from the dead to pave the way for us to have eternal life. God is in the business of bringing good out of bad!
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Jesus Christ is the permanent solution who makes our problems temporary!
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but he things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, ESV)
4) Let’s examine our own lives.
Life is a gift. We should not waste our lives by suddenly taking it, or by wasting it slowly by degrees, with meaningless living. Make your days count. Hug your children. Hug your parents. Say, “I love you.” Listen to one another. Reach out for help when you are in despair. Talk about your problems. We have a choice to be bitter or better because of this. If we can draw closer together as a community and with our families, we can be better.
Storms will come in our lives, but those who withstand are those who have strong roots. Years ago, a powerful storm blew down an oak tree in front of the youth center at the church where I was pastor. It crushed the roof and did major damage. Thankfully, it happened at night when nobody was inside. The reason it happened was that tree did not have deep roots. A tree that has deep roots can withstand a bigger storm.
The way you get deep roots is by a personal relationships with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. As you grow in your relationship with Him by faith, your roots get deeper and deeper, and you are more able to stand against the storms of life.
We will never understand all of the reasons why there is tragedy in life, but if we are rooted in Christ, we can hold on despite the tragedies we face.
The contemporary Christian group, 4Him, wrote a song about the tragic death of a friend, saying,
“When the reasons aren’t clear to me
When it all is a mystery
I want to know why.
And though down here I may not understand
I won’t let go of the Unseen Hand
For it holds the reasons why.”
Hold on to that Unseen Hand, my friend. He will be there for you.
What really matters
Millions of people gather around their television sets to watch sports championship games. Some will be very happy after the game, and others will be very disappointed. But in the end, it really doesn’t matter.
Philippians 2:10-11 says that in the end, “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow… and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
In the end, it will not matter what team you follow, but it will matter whether or not you followed Jesus. In the end, it will not matter what nation you lived in, but it will matter whether you were you in the kingdom of God. In the end, it will not matter what terrorists you feared, but whether you feared God. In the end, it will not matter which church you attended, but whether you were part of the body of Christ.
In the end, it will not matter what your political affiliation was, but whether your affiliation was with Jesus. In the end, it will not matter where you worked, but whether you served Jesus. In the end, it will not matter what family or culture you were born in, but whether you were born again into the family of God. Because in the end, what will matter is not whether you got your name in the history books, but did you get your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life?