Wednesday, March 21, 2012
“He rescued us from such great danger of death, and he will continue to rescue us; in him we have put our hope that he will also rescue us again, as you help us with prayer, so thanks may be given by many on our behalf for the gift granted us through the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1: 10-11
My brother should have died the other day.
The short version of the story is that he was in severe pain for several days and we suspected it might be a kidney stone. When we brought him to the ER for the second time, they brought him back for a CT scan and less than five minutes later the entire ER was rushing around and words like “critical” and “surgery” were being slung around like missiles into our hearts. He was immediately rushed into emergency, life-or-death surgery because he had an abdominal aortic aneurysm that had ruptured (we learned later it was 4 inches long). So basically he was bleeding to death inside his own body. They brought him back to surgery at 3:02am and we had no idea how long it would take or whether he would live or die.
About two-and-a-half hours later the surgeon came in and told us that he was “lucky” to be alive and in fact the only thing that saved his life was that the opening of the rupture was towards the back of his body where the organs are more compacted with the spine and the ribs and so the blood took a little longer to leak out of the rupture. Had the rupture opened toward the front of my brother’s abdomen, the doctor said he would have died before they got him into surgery. Thankfully after several up-and-down days he seems to be on the sure road to a slow, but steady recovery.
Several things have struck me over the past week. The first is that while that night in the hospital was certainly scary and there were tears of worry that were shed, we were not hopeless or helpless. In that instance, when life and death hung balanced on a precarious point, we had each other and we had Jesus. We could pray and know with certain knowledge that all of our lives are held in the Lord’s hands. We knew that we could place ALL of our trust in Jesus—no matter what happened. While the rest of the world slept and most people had no idea that a few of us seemed to be alone in that waiting room, we were NOT alone! The God of the universe, who made heaven and earth, was RIGHT THERE with us: holding us, supporting us, comforting us, crying with us. And He is with YOU in your times of trials and suffering too.
The second is that life is fragile and we need to live each day with eternal vision, for eternity could be thrust upon us at ANY moment. One minute we are riding a bike, having a conversation or sitting with friends and family and the next instant we could be face to face with Jesus giving an account of our lives. I think if we live with eternal vision we will recognize the gift that each day is to us and we will live it to the full to love God and serve our neighbor. Without this vision, we may get tempted to live below our dignity and settle for the comfort of a world we think is all there is for us.
Finally, I was struck by the Scripture from 2 Corinthians at the top of this reflection, which was taken from the Night Prayer of the Church. Yes, the Lord did save my brother from great danger of death and for that we are all thankful, but the death that the Lord most wants to save us from is eternal death. The reality is that someday, my brother will die, as we all will, and in that moment, God may not save our mortal life, but if we have lived with eternal vision and walked with Jesus our Savior in obedience and have loved Him and others, then we shall conquer death once and for all through His grace and mercy and be with Him in heaven for all of eternity, where we shall not fear death again. May we all strive to life forever by living this life according to the Lord’s will and by placing ALL of our trust in Jesus.
Dear Jesus, thank You for the gift of life, but more importantly, thank You for offering Your life so that the doors to eternal life might be opened wide to all people. May we live each day with eternal vision, cooperate with Your grace and love You and others at every moment. Amen.