A Dying Man, a Hopeless Situation and a Prayer


He was dying. He was receiving the very best medical care in an outstanding hospital, yet he was dying. Days earlier he had been vibrant, active and healthy. His only medical problems had been high blood pressure and diabetes, both of which were well controlled with medications. Now he was hooked up to a ventilator, unable to breathe on his own, his lungs stiff from infection and inflammation. His heart was failing, unable to beat hard and fast enough to sustain his blood pressure and supply his vital organs. Multiple IV lines poured medications and fluids into his veins in what seemed to be a futile attempt to keep him alive. His bed was tilted with the head down to divert blood flow to the brain  in the hope that if he somehow survived he would not suffer permanent brain damage.

He was under the care of lung specialists, heart specialists, infectious disease specialists, every specialist I could think of, and yet, he was dying. We had run out of ideas. We had done all we could, and it was not enough. I felt defeated and hopeless as I went to inform his family.

I walked out to the waiting room to break the news, wanting to prepare them for the sadness that was to come and allow them to say their good-byes. Tears flowed from multiple eyes as I described the situation.

"Is there anything else we can do?," his wife asked.

"We are doing everything we can," I replied.

And then I realized there was one more thing I could do. I asked, "Would it be okay if I prayed with you?"

"Certainly!" she replied.

So I prayed. I do not remember the exact words I used, but I do remember admitting that I did not know what else to do and asking God to make him better.

To my surprise, God did. For reasons no one could explain, he got better. The infection disappeared, his lung stiffness went away and his heart began to do its job. His blood pressure climbed back to normal. Within just a few days he was breathing on his own. He was alert and talking and in full possession of his faculties. To my further amazement, when he left the hospital a few days later he no longer needed diabetic or blood pressure medicines!

I learned some important lessons that day. I learned that it is okay to admit that you do not know what to do. It is okay to tell the truth, and it is okay to ask permission to pray, even when you do not know if the family has faith.

It is also okay to ask for a miracle, because every once in a while, you get one!