From Death To Life

A few months ago, I started my day like any other.  I had a few errands to run and then returned home.  I had just gotten home when my daughter hurriedly came through my door and asked if my sister had gotten ahold of me.  Realizing that something was wrong, I asked why and she proceeded to tell me that my brother had been taken to the hospital unresponsive.  This was an immediate concern of mine because my brother had never made a profession of faith nor surrendered his life to the Lord, and I knew he needed help from God.  I dropped what I was doing and went straight to the hospital.

When I arrived, there stood some relatives, my son-in-law, and a couple of people from our church.  They all had worried looks on their faces.  I knew it must be bad.  As I entered the emergency room, I saw my sister sitting at the end of my brother's bed.  My heart was pounding rather hard by now, because I didn't know what to expect.  As I moved closer to his bedside, I could see how serious he was.  His swollen face was extremely red, and he was connected to all these tubes with one assisting him to breath.  His body was swollen, and the medical staff were working on him.  As a few friends of his came and went, it would be another two hours before they could airlift him out to another hospital, which would be in Tennessee, the only one who had room for him.

My husband and I, sister, and her husband jumped into a vehicle as soon as we could and headed for Tennessee.  My brother's children all lived around the Cincinnati, Ohio, area, and would not be arriving until late that night.  At the conclusion of the doctor's diagnosis, my brother had pneumonia in both his lungs, liver failure, and both his kidneys were shutting down...all due to alcohol abuse.  There was nothing anyone could do, but pray, which we did. 

Our church family started praying for him as soon as they received the news.  The word must have spread throughout the county quickly, because notes of encouragement started pouring in.  We received several phone calls from people in other churches who told us that they had our brother on their prayer lists.  This is what we needed to hear, because when we can't help ourselves, that's when God can really work. 

The hospital had an automated service where they would provide updates twice a day on their patients and the family could call a number the receive the updates.  We called once every morning and evening.  His condition began to worsen.  To make things worse, his children could not stay with him in Tennessee due to their work, and neither could we.  My brother is single and does not have any family who live nearby, except for me and my sister.  We felt so bad that he was down there alone, but there was nothing we do, so we called twice a day and tried to speak with a nurse or doctor on a daily basis.  This was next to impossible, because they had so many other patients to take care of. 

With the medical staff not really giving us any hope at all, I kept reminding myself and my sister that we are people of faith.  When we, as Christians, receive bad news, that's when our faith should really kick in.  Scripture says we should encourage ourselves in the Lord just as King David did (I Samuel 30:6), and realize with men things are impossible, but with God all things are possible (Mark 10:27).  I continued to believe God no matter what bad news we received.  And we did continue to receive bad news day after day.  A week passed by and then another week, and then another.  

Shortly after arriving at the hospital, a decision had to be made to start dialysis on his kidneys, because they had completely stopped working.  His body began to swell so badly that fluid began seeping out of his arms.  His children were in a place where they had never been before.  They were young.  He has four children ranging in the ages from 18 to about 35.  They had now been forced to make a life or death decision for their Dad and were devastated.  The decision had to be made quickly, and even worse, via telephone.  One of his sons gave the okay to start dialysis.  The doctor had previously informed the family that they could try dialysis, but there was no guarantee that it would start his kidneys working again.  We had to try, but this didn't work for a few weeks.  His body continued to swell.

His children drove down once a week to see him, and we did the same.  During this whole time, the medical staff had to keep him sedated due to his serious condition.  They were afraid to allow him to awaken due to him being on total life support and being fed through a feeding tube through his nose.  They weren't even sure he would wake up, but they didn't want to take any chances.  He had a breathing machine connected to him, a feeding tube through his nose, and they were giving him dialysis every other day on his kidneys.  But nothing seemed to be working.  He had never regained consciousness. 

Another decision would need to be made by the children.  He now needed a tracheotomy in his neck to assist his breathing on a long-term basis.  Oh, no.  Would this be permanent?  What if the wrong decision would be made and this could affect him the rest of his life.  But if they say no, how long could he live without it?  The decision was made to have the tracheotomy, because they wanted to do everything they could to see that he was comfortable and maybe extend his life. 

To add insult to injury, my brother was severely intoxicated when he was initially taken to the hospital, unresponsive.  Due to his body not releasing any fluids, after nearly three weeks in the hospital, he was still considered legally drunk.  So many thoughts ran through our minds.  Did he have a chance to think clearly and pray?  What was he thinking to allow himself to get this bad?  What were his last thoughts before he blacked out?  We had one small consolation.  A friend of his had told us that he had said to her while they were waiting on the ambulance to arrive, that he was scared.  You'll never know what this meant to us.  To us, it meant that he had some awareness of his condition, both physically and spiritually.  We held onto this, as well as our faith in God.  We weren't giving up.  I knew that God was faithful to His Word and was longsuffering.  I also knew that it is not God's will that any should perish (John 3:16), and that we have many promises from God.  I held onto these promises.  I would not give up.  

After about a month, one Sunday morning my sister called me.  She had just spoken to one of our brother's doctors who had given her this report.  As I wrote these things down, I just couldn't believe what I was hearing.  He said, when our brother came to the hospital, he was very sick.  He wanted to put some things out to the family and be realistic.  Our brother now had Ileus disease, which pertains to the bowels.  He was susceptible to urinary tract infections and pneumonia again and again.  When someone's system is down, it doesn't take much to get another infection.  Although his kidneys had been producing 200 cc's of urine, they had to pull 5,000 cc's of fluid from him in order for his kidneys to produce the 200 cc's.  Concerning his mental condition, sometimes the medical staff could ask him questions and he could respond.  However, at other times, he doesn't respond clearly.  He was confused sometimes.  The doctor went on to say that when the body shuts down, there have to be some questions asked like, do we continue forcing the body to do what we want it to do.  Now, to the real truth.  The doctor advised that my brother would never pull through, that he would be on the trach the rest of his life, as well as dialysis.  He wanted us to think about these things, and that we didn't have to make a decision right now.  The doctor also advised that they couldn't say what his results would be.  That he could be looking at months of trying to survive, but that he would never be able to live on his own again.  That's the reason the doctor was calling today.  He wanted us to be thinking about these things.  

You talk about a whirlwind!  That almost blew me away.  We went on to church that morning, and I had to share what the doctor had told us.  As I testified, I felt the Spirit of God rising up in me and it seemed my faith had increased.  I was determined not to accept what the doctor had said, and to keep my faith in God strong.   I asked the congregation to continue to pray and believe God with us.  I knew it wasn't over until God said it was over.

One week later we received the most awesome news.  Our brother's kidneys were working better and better.  His pneumonia was gone, and his liver had started working, too!  Not only that, but he was talking more and more to them and was conscious.  We were ecstatic.  God had stayed true to His promises.  Our brother was not going to die, but live!  They were no longer talking about his organ problems, but were talking about moving him to a nursing home where he could receive rehabilitation.  Now, you tell me, was that a miracle or not?!  One week later!  God had turned everything around and had performed a miracle in our brother's life!  We knew he was getting better everyday, because the nurses began to complain that he was getting meaner and meaner.  Yep, that was him.  He hated hospitals.  He was going to be okay.  About a week later, they moved him to a nursing home in Louisville, Kentucky.  He stayed approximately two weeks there and then went to his son's house for a couple of weeks, and then came home.  Can you believe it?!   

To make a long story short, after he returned to his home (exactly opposite to what the doctor said he wouldn't do), we had a "welcome home" get-together for him at my house.  When I saw him walking on his own, with a little assistance of a cane, I could not believe my eyes.  I told him he was the closest thing to a walking miracle that I had ever seen.  It was true.  He was dead (clinically speaking), but God had other plans.  We shared with him that day how severe his condition was.  My sister had kept a daily journal so that she could share with him what information we received on a daily basis.  So that he could understand and realize what God had done for him.  How that God had mercy and given him another chance at life.  He recently received a clean bill of health.  His liver is doing great and his blood work all came back good. 

That's the kind of God that I serve.  He wants us to live life to the fullest and live it for Him, so that we can share with others what God has done for us.  God wants His children to live with Him one day, after this life is over, eternally in Heaven.  We are all His children.  He loves us.  He loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die on a rugged cross for you and I.  His Son was the only One worthy to die for our sins.  To pay a debt we could not pay.  God resurrected Him and Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father, always making intercession for us.  You and I.  We didn't have to do a thing.  God's mercy, His unmerited favor, was extended toward us so that we could live forever with Him. 

I want you to think about what God did for my brother and realize that He will do the same for you.  He's a good God, and He loves you and I more than we could ever imagine. 

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