My husband can barely breathe. Will you please come and help him?” Jentee pleaded, her voice desperate.
I had previously examined Jentee’s 45-year-old husband Sgoom and concluded that he had COPD from many years of smoking. “Do you have any medicine to help me breathe better?” he asked me. “Sometimes I pass out when I am working in my rice field.”
“Sgoom, the first medicine is to stop smoking,” I said.
“I’ve tried so many times, and I can’t. Do you have any medicine?”
I shared about God’s power to help us overcome our habits, and I prayed with him. Sadly, Sgoom never fully surrendered the murderous habit, and now about a year later he was in trouble.
Rushing to their home, I found Sgoom with eyes open, unable to speak or respond. I checked his blood oxygen level. It was just over 60 percent—dangerously low. His every breath was a gasp to stay alive. Jentee asked if I could help them get to a good hospital in the capital city, a four-hour drive away.
When we arrived at the emergency room, we found it packed like a can of sardines with people suffering with life-threatening problems. The floor and walls were grungy with stains, and I could almost feel the germs festering in the place. At least three of the patients had been rushed in from motorbike accidents. One had a bandage wrapped around his head and blood smeared all over his body. There were many elderly people with pitiful looks on their faces as their attending family members stroked and comforted them. Just to the left of where Sgoom was placed, there was an old Buddhist monk, still wearing his orange robe. A pool of blood was collecting under his bandaged head. His body appeared lifeless, and the doctor was connecting him to a respirator. I asked the girl with him what had happened. With tear-glazed eyes, she said, “My father was out walking at night, and a motorbike hit him. His head hit the pavement when he fell. I told him not to walk at night.” Tears began trailing down her cheeks.
“I am so sorry about your father,” I said, tears filling my own eyes. O Father in Heaven, I prayed, please comfort this family through their storm. The monk died later that night.
Just then a shirtless heavyset Chinese man was rushed in. His face was pale, his body looked lifeless, and vomit dripped down his left cheek. The team of nurses and doctors gathered around the man and began CPR. Dear Father in Heaven, You have the power to let this man live. Please let him live according to your will, I prayed.
I turned to one of the man’s friends and asked what had happened. The man made a gesture of drinking a bottle of alcohol, and I got the message. “Does he have a wife and kids?” I asked.
“Yes, they are back in China,” the man replied.
I glanced back over at the team performing CPR. Vomit continued to drip from the man’s mouth as they tried to revive him. They must have continued for about half an hour. Finally, they stopped, and a doctor looked at the man’s friend and shook his head. I prayed more for all involved and trusted God’s leading as they moved the man’s body out of the room.
Sgoom now wore an oxygen mask, and a nurse gave him some medication to help him relax. It didn’t work. Sgoom was confused and kept trying to pull out his IV and take off his oxygen mask. It was now around midnight, and I had relieved Jentee so she could get a little rest. For the rest of the night I kept watch over Sgoom, keeping him from removing his equipment.
After one night and two days in the hospital, it became apparent that Sgoom was even less comfortable there than at home, and Jentee decided to take him back. Sgoom lived two more days and finally passed away at home. He left behind a wife and four children. As I prayed with the family, I prayed for their comfort and thanked God that Sgoom’s last night had been a peaceful one.
This challenging experience reminded me that God does not always choose to heal the sick or to raise the dead to life. In His perfect view of the future, He allows some people to pass, knowing it will somehow work out for the best. Even though I had prayed with and for Sgoom about his deadly habit, God respected his decision to continue smoking, as horrible as the results were. During my night in the ER, I sensed God’s great love and pity for victims of sin’s bitter sting. I also feel encouraged now more than ever to share God’s goodness with those around me. If only people could see Christ’s matchless love for them. If only they could surrender their wills fully and choose to serve Him, what joy and peace they could experience! What eternal loss if they never learn to trust Him!
Thank you for your prayers, and please continue to pray that Jesus will be lifted up to the Great River People.