Lord Have Mercy…

* Do you find yourself in the midst of a time when your eyes cannot focus on the daily details of life much less where God is in the middle of all your pain? Yes/No and explain.

* How have you found grief to be physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting?

* What helps you to get through those times?
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As I weighed these questions, I thought about how the early stages of grief consumed my life. Avoidance, denial, physical illness, forgetfulness, mental and emotional exhaustion. It took me back to those early days just after the accident.
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The prayer of my heart those long and tedious hours sitting watching the numbers progressively rise as my son’s brain continually swelled while his body lay still and looked quite normal to me. He appeared to be asleep, his summer tan still tinting his arms and cheeks. I whispered to him the second day as I swabbed his body with a soft white wash cloth.

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“Justin, we need you to rest, baby. Get well, don’t fight – don’t worry about us, just rest. We’re all here, we love you and we need you back.”

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I found a scab in his right ear and used the wet cloth to wipe as much of the dried blood away. Thinking it was merely the remaining blood from his head wound, I wiped at it a little too hard and he pulled his head away. It was the first sign of life I had seen since he had been sedated right after surgery on Monday evening. A few moments later as I washed his face, my hand brushed his eyelashes and they fluttered just a bit. Perhaps an involuntary response, but a sign of life just the same. Just enough for this momma to hang onto her hope.

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The next morning I came in to find the nurse was ignoring my son’s rising brain pressure number and not talking to the doctors about it at all. I was upset by her lack of concern from my son’s condition and made a promise to my son as I stood next to his bed.

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“Momma’s here, baby, and I’m not going anywhere. They are going to have to run me out of here to get rid of me. About ten minutes later, they did. The full rotation staff came in and asked me to wait in the waiting room until they finished their exam. “I kissed his forehead and told him I would be right back.”

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When I returned a half hour later, the nurse was busy trying to settle him back in. I was still holding on to the prognosis that some who were injured as bad as my son had awakened from worse injuries to return to normal lives. I wanted a miracle for my son.

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The nurse looked at me and said, “I don’t know what happened, but as soon as you left all his numbers went off the charts!”

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I started laughing, “That’s my son. I promised him I would not leave him unless you made me leave. Then a few minutes later I told him I was leaving. He went nuts because he thought I broke my promise.”

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More hope, more life being seen. My son was in there, somewhere. I sang to him, bathed him, talked with him and sat beside him praying. That same night the nurse who had left him so “uncared” for the night before returned and I kept my promise. I stayed right by his side all night long. They moved him to a private room and he had a couple of good days. But, by Sunday evening, things were progressively growing worse.

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After they moved him to the private room I prayed differently. I spent all those hours in that room on my roll-a-way cot staring at the numbers watching him grow more and more still. The ventilator pumped a breath full of oxygen into his body rhythmically, the monitors beeped in time to his heartbeat and his brain pressure number slowly and steadily began to rise.

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The head nurse shared with me that we could be in the hospital with him in a coma for years and though there was a chance he would awaken and recover… We needed to be prepared for him to wake up in any state of disrepair, including the chance that he might not awaken at all. In that moment, as I considered that my life-loving, mischievious, wild at heart son might have to live the rest of his life as a child in a man’s body… My heart and my prayer changed.

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Where I had asked for a miracle all those hours before, now I pled for mercy.

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“Dear Lord God, You can heal Him and if it is Your will – restore Him Lord, give us a miracle. But, God if he is not going to be able to live his life fully and enjoy it – then, Lord, please have mercy on my son and give me peace to accept it. In Jesus name I ask these things, Amen.”

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My eyes filled with tears, my body growing wearier with sorrow… All I could think was that God was waiting for my baby if he didn’t survive. I blessed my heart as the presence of God and His Holy Spirit filled the room in those last few days. You could sense and feel His presence at work comforting and ministering to my son’s spirit as well as those of us who were preparing to say goodbye. I asked one final thing: “Lord, make is certain. If my hope is in Heaven, then leave no doubt.” My son’s brain hemorraghed sometime between 3:00 and 5:00 PM on Tuesday, August 23, 2005. Doctors called him officially brain dead at 5:00 PM in that same room where I had prayed for mercy, I also surrendered my son.

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It broke my heart to say goodbye, and as I left the building I remember being so weary of the hospital and the waiting. There was some relief that we now knew what to do next. But, the sorrow would encompass me in the months ahead. I would even grow sick, unable to cope with the simplest of tasks. I would forget to pay the bills I paid every month like the rent and phone. I would function in a realm of normalcy but all of it seemed to lack something vital – my heart.

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The funeral came and I cried the many tears we do in such a time as this. I remember feeling so lost as we returned to the church after the graveside service. I sat staring off into space, alone at the table without so much as a thought in my head. I was numb, exhausted and I had cried every last tear I could muster. I didn’t even eat as I recall. My friends came over and pulled me to a table to themselves. There we sat and they told me funny stories that brought laughter in the moment but sadness later as I cried my heart out on the way back to my cousin’s house where we had stayed since the day of the accident. I found a quiet couch in the back of the house and lay my body down to rest. I slept for hours undisturbed. I awoke to a dream and for many months I watched the doors and the horizon for any sign that my son would come home. My heart would ache, my arms grow weary of being empty, and I longed to hear his laughter and raspy voice just one more time. I wanted him back so badly and I would sit at his grave and ask God not to allow me to make him an idol.

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Somehow, I found my way through the weary, brokeness of sorrow to a place where the sun shines brighter and the trips to the cemetery are fewer and farther between. I can laugh without guilt, I can love without regret and though I still miss him in big ways… I know that someday we will stand in the presence of God together and bask in His glory as a family once again!

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He is not lost to me, just in the safest keeping I could ask for – resting in the arms of grace at the foot of the Throne of God. Heaven is a glorious place and if I cannot have him with me here, I can be okay with God having him there. To Him be the Glory.

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Salve for our wounded souls:

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Today as we think about the mercy we need for our weary and tired souls, let us look ahead to a place of total healing, total love and total grace: Heaven.

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Revelations (NKJV)

Chapter 22

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And he showed me a pure river of water of life,

clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God

and of the Lamb.

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2 In the middle of its street, and on either side

of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits,

each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree

were for the healing of the nations.

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3 And there shall be no more curse, but

the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it,

and His servants shall serve Him.

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4 They shall see His face, and

His name shall be on their foreheads.

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5 There shall be no night there:

They need no lamp nor light of the sun,

for the Lord God gives them light.

And they shall reign forever and ever.

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6 Then he said to me,

“These words are faithful and true.”

And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel

to show His servants the things which must shortly take place.

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7 “Behold, I am coming quickly!

Blessed is he who keeps the words of

the prophecy of this book.”

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8 Now I, John, saw and heard these things.

And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship

before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.

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9 Then he said to me, “See that you do not do that.

For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren

the prophets, and of those who keep

the words of this book. Worship God.”

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10 And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of

the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.

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11 He who is unjust, let him be unjust still;

he who is filthy, let him be filthy still; he who is righteous,

let him be righteous still; he who is holy, let him be holy still.”

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12 “And behold, I am coming quickly,

and My reward is with Me, to give to

every one according to his work.

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13 I am the Alpha and the Omega,

the Beginning and the End,

the First and the Last.”

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14 Blessed are those who do His commandments,

that they may have the right to the tree of life,

and may enter through the gates into the city.

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15 But outside are dogs and sorcerers and

sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters,

and whoever loves and practices a lie.

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16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you

these things in the churches. I am the Root and

the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

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17 And the Spirit and the bride say,

“Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!”

And let him who thirsts come.

Whoever desires, let him take

the water of life freely.

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18 For I testify to everyone who hears the

words of the prophecy of this book:

If anyone adds to these things,

God will add to him the plagues

that are written in this book;

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19 and if anyone takes away from the words

of the book of this prophecy, God shall take

away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city,

and from the things which are written in this book.

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20 He who testifies to these things says,

“Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

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