Friday, November 12, 2010

it's not fair...

Hospice (def.) - 1. a lodging place for travelers (
2. providing comfort and support for patients with terminal illnesses. (Webster)


Until recently, I never once heard the word hospice without feeling a stab of fear in my heart. Just the word itself conjured up visions of death and suffering in my mind.  Hospice just sounded like a death sentence. Finality. The end.

When my husband first told me that he had been asked to become the hospice chaplain for our parish and the neighboring parish, I was a little disturbed by it. I can remember telling him that I didn't know how he could even think about doing it. It just seemed like it would be so depressing.  So heartbreaking.  So sad.

The truth of the matter is that it can be all those things. It is depressing. It does break your heart and it certainly is sad. But it is more than that as well. It is also an awesome ministry. It is a way to minister to patients and their families. It is a huge opportunity to share Jesus with those who need Him in a very big way.

The small town we live in is where my husband was born and raised. He knows everybody and everybody knows him. We've lived here for over 20 years now so it's really my town, too. In the year or so that he has worked with hospice, he has personally known all but a handful of his patients. Some of them just acquaintances and some of them close friends.

Today, I went with him to see his newest patient. She is 54 years old and he has known her almost all their lives. She taught my oldest girls in middle school. Our son-in-laws worked together. One of her daughters was a customer of mine in the insurance business and I grew to love her dearly.

Short of a miracle, she will be on hospice until she goes home to be with Jesus. Short of a miracle, it won't be too long. Her cancer has returned. Again. It hasn't responded to treatment and is in fact spreading. There is nothing more that the doctors can do.

Her daughters checked her out of the hospital today and brought her home. As I sat in one of their homes today I was struck by the unfairness of it all. I sat there with my bible opened up in my lap and just kept thinking, 'it's just not fair'. I watched the anguish on her daughters' faces and thought, 'it's just not fair'. 

We were all gathered in the living room getting all the details of hospice worked out and my heart was in such a grieving state. A very real and painful state of mourning. She was clearly in pain and as the nurse was trying to find the right dosage of her pain medication to get it under control, my heart just hurt so bad. It was all I could do to keep the tears from rolling down my face. They were brimming in my eyes and my heart was completely filled with them. I silently grieved.

I was grieving for those 2 precious young women as they were bracing themselves for what was to come. Young mothers in their early 30's that shouldn't have to watch their mother die. I was grieving for those 7 precious grandchildren who had no idea what was about to take place in their lives. I was grieving for the ex-husband who was so lovingly sitting by the side of his children's mother. I was grieving for this sweet woman, who was worried about what this was doing to her loved ones.

But as I sat there, God spoke so sweetly to my spirit. I knew that life wasn't fair. It never has been and it never will be. Life isn't about fairness. Life is about Jesus. It's about living our lives for Him and His glory. It's about doing what God has called us to do. It's about a real and personal relationship with our God.

Death isn't the end. It is the beginning. It is the start of an eternity with an Almighty God. For those who are the children of God, death is victory.

"Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of His saints"
(Psalm 116:15)

One day we will shed these old earthly bodies and we will  finally meet our Savior face-to-face. We will experience the true fullness of joy. We will see Him for who He really is and we will be worshiping our Lord like never before. We will worship in spirit and in truth. We will worship for all eternity.

Life isn't fair. But what we receive in death isn't either. We don't deserve the mercy and grace our God gives us. We don't deserve eternal life. But because of His great love for us, we inherit it when we become a child of the King.

"And God shall wipe away all tears from
their eyes; and there shall be no more
 death, neither sorrow, nor crying,
neither shall there be any more pain;
for the former things are passed away"
(Revelation 21:4)

Even though we have heartaches here on earth and even though we have to endure trials and sufferings, one day we will be with Jesus forever. We will leave this earthly lodging place and reach our final destination. And it will have all been worth it.

Oh, precious Lord, send your comforter to those who are hurting. Minister to their hearts and souls. Reveal yourself to them in a mighty and awesome way. Wrap them up in your sweet embrace and grant them peace.


Denise said...

There is much Truth here...while we may not think life here is fair what is on the other side of our physical deaths can be the greatest unfairness of all! The grace of mercy.


Mari said...

Awesome post, awesome words...Awesome God! I for one am eager to spend eternity with God and dump the heartaches of this world.

You have such a tender, sweet heart, I know God has hand chosen your hubby because you are one great help meet in this comforting area too.


petrii said...

My heart just breaks for this family, at the same time knowing that Jesus is there with them. The Holy Spirit is moving among them and loving on them and comforting them. What a beautiful thing that is.

I love you friend. Thank you for sharing this with us.

Have a Blessed day,

Nancy said...

What a sad but beautiful story. I'm so glad you were able to see how your husband helps those who need him. I love how you ended your post. About fairness - Grace is so amazing. It isn't fair, but it is wonderful. I am still and always in awe of His grace to me.

Pia said...

while reading your post, i can feel the pain and sadness. life can sometimes be so unfair. i feel sorry for this family. my heart breaks for them.

Pia said...

while reading your post, i can feel the pain and sadness. life can sometimes be so unfair. i feel sorry for this family. my heart breaks for them.

nita said...

Hi Beth, Your post has taken me back a bit. cancer is a horrible disease. I was that young mother in my early thirties with a 6 month old baby and 3 yr toddler, when my mother died from breast cancer, aged 56 yrs way back in 1975 - My thoughts and heart go out to those young women. - You are right we must look beyond this world to eternity, when my mother died I didnt have a personal relationship with the lord, but it was one of the many steps that led me to him. Thank you and God Bless all that you and your husband do in his name. Nita.

NanaNor's said...

My dear friend, What a precious post this was and it touched my heart so deeply. Hospice ministered to my sister so much during her final months and days. What a gift you and your hubby can gives to those loved ones facing the hardest challenge in their lives. Hospice told me it was a gift to be there for someone dying,(I didn't like that too much)but it truly is a gift.
Every Thursday when I do the Beth study I think of you and I know you'd be sharing your wisdom with us. I treasure you my sister.
Hugs, Noreen

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Beth, for this beautiful message. We are just passing through this life. So many times I say the same thing...'it's not fair.'
You are so right in saying that we don't deserve the grace that has been pour out for us. Oh, I am so glad Jesus did.
I am thankful that your husband is giving true hope and comfort in your parish. I would rather it it be a Bible believing Christian like you two than false hope by the world.
I lift up this woman, her daughters, grandchildren, and her ex-husband with you. May they draw even closer to the Lord.
Love & hugs, my precious friend,

BECKY said...

Oh Beth, Thank you so much for sharing from deep in your heart with us. This moved me way deep inside because I have just the opposite sense when I think of Hospice. The Hospice nurse's very presence comforted me so much when my Mom was dying...and my dad was in the other room talking to his girlfriend on the phone. Years ago I was a deaconess at our church and of all the positions I filled, being one of the deaconesses that handled funerals was the biggest blessing and privilege! I have often said that I would love to work with Hospice somehow, so that I could bring hope and comfort to grieving people like was done for me. IU am delighted to know that your hubby has this new position. I have no doubt that he will find it to be the most deeply gratifying of any he has held.

Love to you, sweetie. Love how your light shines forth for Him!!

Beth E. said...

Oh, Beth, this brought tears to my eyes. What a touching post. Your words have truly blessed me this evening. You are precious to me!

Nellie's Cozy place said...

Hi Beth,
I came over from Merriams. What an awesome post, Amen to every word.
I just lost my step sister to cancer last week, but she knew the Lord,
and what a precious thing that is to know.

Years back I was struggling with the death of a Mom in our church who had 4 children, one had cerebral palsy and needed much care
and she had a young son about 4 or 5 I think it was, and she was a missionary. In my struggle to understand, The Lord gave me this verse in Isaiah 57:1
and I was flooded with the peace of God. It says, The righteous perish
and no one ponders it in his heart,
devout men are taken away and no one understands that the righteous
are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace, they find rest,
as they lie in death.

God takes them to spare them from evil!! Isn't that beautiful and loving!!

You are a wise woman and I am sure you are a great help to your hubby in this ministry. Praise God for your tender and merciful heart.
Nice to meet you hon,
Blessings, Nellie

Stacey Dawn said...

I'm so sorry for the pain ... I so relate due to what's going on with Robert. Hospice, though, has been terrific. So glad they are part of Robert's and my life!

Nancy M. said...

Wonderful thoughts! My husband's grandpa was at Hospice in the end of his life. The people there were so caring and uplifting to us.

Cherie Hill said...

Wow, it is wonderful how God has spoken to you through this experience and we are all blessed by you sharing it with us! It really reminds me of why I'm here and what I'm living for. Each moment in life is a precious gift from God. I've heard the quote, "Life is like a coin, spend it any way you want, but you can only spend it once."
Love, hugs, and prayers,

Elizabethd said...

What a touching and beautiful post. Thank you.

Debra said...

Beth, what a wonderful ministry this is for your husband to be part of. I am a cancer survivor and I can remember being in the hospital so many times and needing to speak or pray with someone. While my husband is a minister himself, he too was in need of someone to pray with as we were both going through some pretty tough times. But thanks be to God I have been in remission since 1990!


Sonja said...


This absolutely stirred my heart. You expressed so well the way we feel about such 'unfair' circumstances, but the words the Lord spoke to your heart just brought tears. How isn't about fair, it's about knowing Jesus. Life is short for all of us, and this dear family is facing that reality right now, as will each one of us.

I have always felt so deeply that a ministry to the hurting heart is like being handed a platter on which to serve Jesus' love and hope.

I will be praying for your hubby, and for you, as you minister to those who are perhaps more open than ever and who need hope for each day and for eternity.

Praying also for this dear family, each one of them, for God's special comfort and grace during this time.

All thats real !! said...

What an awesome and heartfet post. Though it is so is also yet a future celebration in progress. Death in this life is not and ending but a beginning. I really enjoyed this post and am thankful for an awesome God that loves us past our impurities.

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

I know the blessings Hospice has been to so many of my truly is a precious ministry. Blessings to you both as you are God's hands and feet to these families.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

A beautiful, gut-wrenching writing, friend. Why? Because suffering always seems to yield truth in a way that might otherwise be missed. What you and your husband are experiencing via hospice is, indeed, some raw reality, filled with questions, pain, and "getting in touch" with your mortality. It's a rough place to stand some days... thus the reason so many choose to stand at a distance rather than entering in. Still and yet, being bedside to the dying is a rare privilege. It allows us a glimpse into our own souls, eternity.

I pray God's strength for you and your husband as you continue to ministry God's love in times like these. I've stood there as well with loved ones, and in many ways, this season in my life is allowing me understanding along these lines.

Keep to it.


Denise said...

You were on my mind this morning.I was wondering how you were feeling.The thought just seem to come out of no where.So I thought, I wonder if the Lord is guiding me because she needs a word from you Father or maybe an uplift of just -how you doing girl?-well the lord is always amazing.You uplifted me and gave me peace this moning with the word of God and the holy spirit.Thank you

angelonwheels said...

Oh Beth,

I cannot imagine how hard it is day in day out to see such suffering. This post is sad and beautiful! There is victory in Jesus!