Years ago, we had a patient brought in in a very bad condition. I can’t remember the diagnosis but, she slipped in and out of coma. Her family was very large, rich, and influential. They asked for the best room, and she had 2 or more of them by her side daily. I assumed she was a very senior member of the family, as she was middle aged, and they referred to her respectfully. They kept extolling her virtues and invited different pastors to pray over her. She was on the most expensive medication and had round the clock care. Every night, her family launched into loud singing and prayers for her healing. She actually got better for about 2 days, and was able to sit up. Now I remember, whatever her primary condition was, it led to kidney failure. She was producing dark urine and very infrequently.
I don’t remember which church they belonged to but, the family had a lot of faith in the founder. They kept declaring “God of Pastor So and so!”, while praying. Stickers, wrist bands, and other insignia of the church with either his name, or picture were littered all over her room. She was admitted for over a week.
One night, she took a turn for worse. Unfortunately, I was on call. She was foaming at the mouth and so on. I knew her chances were very slim. Desperately, I tried to revive her but she passed on quietly. I knew her people would get aggressive, so I slipped out without telling them anything. Calling the oldest and most mature of them outside, I told him she was dead. He was very sad. Of course the others had deduced what had happened. They began to yell loudly and pray that she rise from the dead. I left.
Few minutes later, the nurses came to report that her people would not let them perform the “last office”. This is the final preparation the nurses do before a body is sent to the morgue. If rigor mortis sets in, the body stiffens in the wrong position, and will be difficult to move or get into a coffin. I thought carefully. After my near death experience (Read my post The day I was nearly assaulted), I usually steered clear of angry patients. The nurses are better at handling them, than tiny me. I prayed for wisdom and approached the room carefully.
All her family was gathered praying loudly, some rolling on the floor and crying. I saw one of them put several plastic wrist bands with the church insignia on her wrists. Another pasted the church stickers on her chest. Yet another emmptied several bottles of olive oil on her. Everyone was chanting, “God of Pastor So and so, raise her up! “. An inspiration came to me. I called aside the oldest family member.
“Sir, I want you to know how sorry I am for your loss”, I began. “Personally, I am a woman of faith. There is nothing I would love better than for her to rise. It would bring glory to God and to the hospital. The only favor I ask, is that we put a time limit on the prayers. If in 30 minutes there is no change, promise to let the nurses do their job. Else, she will stiffen and you will regret it later”.
He accepted. The nurses and I stood by respectfully and watched them go at it. Meeen! Those people prayed up a storm! If God hears us by the volume of our prayers, she would have risen. In a short while, they began to flag. The man ordered them out, speaking sharply to the few who refused. The nurses did what they had to do, and they left.
I will leave this post without my usual conclusion. Let your opinions roll. What do you think about faith and ill health? Can God raise the dead? Why didn’t she rise? What do you think of church insignia and pastors whose names carry ‘power’? I await your comments. Cheers