I have a confession to make. If you read my gratitude blog you are aware that my best friend died yesterday morning. She had a mercifully short battle with pancreatic cancer. Sunday evening as I was leaving the hospital I was having a crisis of faith. Not faith in God, faith in myself. Leaving the hospital Sunday night I was confused and struggling. I was afraid. I doubted myself. Let me explain…
Deb had been having some pains in her back late last year. She went to her doctor and she ordered tests. Meanwhile Deb also went to a healing service with her daughter and had a vision of Christ touching and healing her. Now before you write my friend (and me) off as kooks please know that Deb has had visions before, completely accurate visions. For example, Deb and her husband felt God leading them to buy a new, larger home so that they could host Bible Studies. Deb and her husband dreamed independent dreams of the house for weeks before even telling each other about them. After realizing how perfectly their visions matched, right down to floor plans and colors, they spent week after week searching for the house. Finally they found a new development with the floor plan they had seen. The problem was, the floor plan was reversed and the colors didn’t match. Deb and her husband stepped out in faith and entered the lottery for the house. They lost. However, the developer told them they could have an as yet unbuilt house. You guessed it, the floor plan was correct and the colors were exactly the colors she had told me about weeks before. So you understand why I was reassured after Deb had her vision and the symptoms went away. Like her I believed she had been healed.
However, her doctor wasn’t satisfied. She had Deb come in for tests on her kidneys. The tests proved inconclusive. The doctor kept searching.
I’m not sure when Deb’s pain returned. I do remember her telling me that she had more tests scheduled and she was asking for prayer. I remember that afternoon clearly because I was walking my dog, around the corner from my apartment. In that moment I knew my friend was dying. I also knew that what God wanted me to do was just love on my friend, not reveal what I knew.
On March 28th Deb called me, once again I was walking my dog in almost the identical spot, and she told me the diagnosis was pancreatic cancer. I was devastated but remained upbeat because she was. She was confident the Lord had told her He would be healing her. I hung up the phone believing the healing that was coming was not her cancer, the cancer would only be healed as she stood before His throne.
How to describe the next few weeks? They weren’t easy. Deb’s husband didn’t take the news very well. He didn’t understand why Deb was so tired and he didn’t appear to understand that she was in pain. He only seemed to understand that Deb’s diet had to change and was worried how that would affect his diet. He yelled when she didn’t feel well enough to go to church and one Sunday morning I raced to her home to comfort her, my always upbeat friend had been reduced to tears by a raging husband.
After some counseling by the pastor and elders in his church Deb’s husband grew more understanding of Deb’s limitations. However, never once did he lose his confidence that God was going to completely heal Deb, even as she was in and out of the hospital multiple times. He described to me in great detail the vision he had regarding Deb’s complete healing. Even as he described it to me I knew that Deb’s complete healing would only come as she stood before the Throne.
Two weeks ago Deb went back into the hospital. Her husband told his daughters the doctors gave her three days to live, he told me one week. Either way, when I got to the hospital on Wednesday evening she looked horrible. My dear friend was emaciated and yellow. The cancer had grown to the point it was blocking her bile ducts and even a drainage bag directly in her liver was not helping. The good news was that Deb’s youngest daughter, the one she had estranged from for 7 years, had come to the hospital and reconciled with her mother.
I can’t describe the weirdness of the next two weeks. Deb’s husband got it into his mind that no one could spend the night with Deb in her room. He said that Jesus always sent everyone away when He healed, therefore Deb had to be alone in her room for God to come to her and heal her. He wasn’t concerned that Deb had told several people she didn’t want to be alone. And he wasn’t concerned that several people told him he was mistaken about Jesus sending people away. That Friday evening he announced to everyone present that God was visiting Deb alone in her room that night and miraculously healing her. Deb was going to be dancing out of the hospital on Saturday morning. This was done in front of about 15 – 20 people, believers and non-believers alike.
Saturday morning I was the first one to the hospital. I walked into Deb’s room and she looked less yellow and was more alert than I’d seen her in a long time. However, she was not ready to dance out of the hospital. She looked at me and said, “I don’t know what George expected to happen last night.” All I could do was tell her that I didn’t either.
Since that day Deb’s husband had all sorts of people come to the hospital to lay hands on and pray over Deb. He stuck fast to his belief she would be completely healed. He refused to hear anything different. Sunday evening when I left the hospital he told me how someone had prayed over Deb the previous day and told him that the cancer was healed, the only healing Deb needed was from the hips down (she had terrible edema in her legs and feet) and the shoulders up. They were going to return to pray for her on Monday afternoon.
I left the hospital confused. I knew God had told me Deb was dying. But George was so certain that God had told him Deb would be healed. And what about the people who told George that Deb’s cancer was healed? Could I be wrong? I don’t really have a history of listening very well and maybe I was mistaken. I knew that George was desperately afraid of losing Deb, they had been together 40 years after all. I knew he was grasping at any straw he could to heal her. George told me the nurses told him Deb was getting better. Were they telling him the truth or just placating him? I went home and asked God. My heart was troubled and I was sad.
Well, I now know I was right. I take no joy in it. I would rather have been wrong. However, I need to remember to trust what God tells me. Circumstances can be misleading. Grief causes people to do strange things. George has apparently accepted Deb’s death. Deb is finally at peace, dancing with the angels as they praise and worship the Lord. I will see her again.