I was in Wichita Tuesday for the monthly preacher’s meeting. After lunch I wanted to run by a store to have some service work done. In checking the website for the location to plug into my GPS, I noticed the owner had posted some information about his wife’s health. I went by the store and he happened to be open, the first day he was open in 2 weeks.
I asked him about his wife and learned she had been placed on hospice care over the weekend. She had been instructed to call those she wanted to say goodbye to, for she has only a few weeks to live. He was trying to get some things done while her brother sat with her.
My plans changed as I heard his story of the past 8 months of health crisis. I told him I wasn’t interested in his working on my little problem but would very much like to pray for his family. As I prayed for his wife’s ease and comfort as she faced death, and for his strength and comfort as they faced it together, I heard his tears joining my own. After the prayer was completed and we continued to talk, he told me that it felt wrong to have any of the attention shifted from his wife’s illness to him as the caregiver. He didn’t want be selfish with God’s time and attention, as she needed it much more than he did at that time.
I understand his trying to sort through his feelings, about God, healing, dying, strength, and weakness. I understand his concern that his business could fail due to his distraction from it to his wife’s needs. I listened to him speak of spending “a lifetime learning to live with her, but completely unprepared to live without her.” I heard his pain, but other than prayer and listening, there was little I could do to help.
I don’t know my friend well, we’ve spoken perhaps 10 times in the past four years. But I learned much that day. I learned that the opportunities to care about others surround us every day. I was reminded that pain, horrific pain is just behind the curtain of the “front” that many put on to greet the public. I was grateful for the privacy his little shop offered us, to have conversations that would not happen in a big, busy place. I was reminded that God can use any opportunity and turn it to ministry if I will only listen.
You can join me in praying for my friend and his wife in her last few days. Since I don’t have his permission, I won’t mention his name, but God will recognize him in your prayers. Also remember that tens of thousands face equally difficult situations all around us. Be praying for others who are saying their goodbyes. Be praying for those who don’t know how to “live without” their loved one. Also pray for God to open your eyes to the occasions for good that surround you.