It is only the first of November as I write this reflection. I am sitting at the bedside of my father in palliative care at Port Kembla hospital. He has a short time to remain on this earth and each day becomes more of a struggle as he battles mesothelioma. I am grieving as I sit here, not just for his suffering, but for the fact that he doesn’t want to know who Jesus is.
What does Dad think about? His mind is still sharp and clear. We chat about the past, his early years in England, the war, his marriage, building our family home, his work and friends, current affairs and politics. Are these things honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise? Yes of course, so many wonderful memories. But do these things bring comfort and peace?
While he sleeps, what do I think about? I am thankful and grateful for the care he is receiving at this special place but I also feel a great and heavy sadness as I see his body suffering, and I am fearful for what lies ahead for him if he doesn’t come to know Jesus as his Saviour. Then, as I re-read the passage, verse 11 reminds me that the author Paul says, I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
How can I be content when I feel so low? Verse 13 reminds me: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. My faithful Heavenly Father will support and guide me through any possible situation that I might face. Over many years I have heard and learned about Jesus and have a clear blueprint to follow. If I can put into that into practice, I know that the peace of God will be with me. But what to focus on, what to practise?
I focus on Jesus and His love for me, His death for me and feel humbled and in awe. I focus on prayer as the Holy Spirit guides my thoughts and groanings and know with certainty that I am being heard. I remember the care and love people have shown me during this sad time and feel grateful and encouraged.
It is now the 8th of November. Today as I sat with Dad I read to him from John’s gospel. I talked to him about Jesus and His love and sacrifice for all of us. Dad lay unmoving, with eyes glued closed from medication, but I know he could hear me. I can say, I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.
And my God will supply every need of mine according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Dad – 16.3.23 – 12.11.13