Yellow skin. Yellow eyes. Labored breathing. Bruised skin.
All the signs of a man who is soon to meet his Savior. Dan and I visited this afternoon as he lay in a hospital bed and I caught my breath as I walked in the room and saw how ill he has become in just a few days. We prayed with him and his wife. I read scripture to him. We hugged his wife as she wiped her tears away. He will be going home on hospice care in a day or two and has been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. His kidneys and liver are shutting down. His wife spoke with us briefly about funeral arrangements.
A lump rose in my throat and tears rolled down my cheeks as his wife turned away so he wouldn't see her tears. One moment he was talking about seeing the Lord and the peace he had, and the next, he was weeping as he talked about his concern for his wife. We assured him that we would look out for her and that her church family would be there for her as well.
They both know that he will be home with the Lord soon and his pain and suffering will be over, but that doesn't mean his wife won't feel sorrow. She will still miss him. She will feel pain and loneliness and loss.
Some good has come from this. There has been reconciliation of one of his children. Her son from a previous marriage told her not to worry about anything and has been there to visit a few times. Relationships that were broken are mending. Differences that seemed so important have been set aside in the face of the loss of a father.
This is the hard part of ministry. This is the second time this week we've experienced sorrow. On Thursday morning, we attended, and Dan took part in a funeral service for our 37 year old neighbor, who passed away from colon cancer. His parents, brother, fiancé and friends all mourned and at the same time rejoiced, knowing he was out of pain and with the Lord.
I so wish I could take away the pain. The only thing I have to give them is listening ears, an empathetic heart and praying.
Our hearts are heavy this afternoon, but it's a sweet pain knowing that our friend will soon be where there is no more pain, no more sorrow and no more suffering. Parting from this life is a sweet sorrow for those who know Christ. We will miss them but know we will see them again some day.
Psalm 23 (NLT) ~