Thank You, Lord

“Lord God, when it comes time for my father to die, please let me be there.”

More than 20 years have passed since I prayed that prayer, and I find myself sitting at my Dad’s deathbed cherishing our last few hours and days together. The past six months of hospice have been an emotional rollercoaster, but I consider my role as caregiver to be a direct answer to my earlier prayer. And so I pray, “Thank you, Lord, for this privilege.”

Waves of sadness, joy, fatigue, hope, grief and faith clash and mix and clash again. Then my heart thrills at the words, “Oh, death, where is thy sting!” Then joy and grief compete at Dad’s whispered “Amen” to my prayers and his labored “Thank you” and “I love you, too.” And again I pray, “Thank you, Lord, for this privilege.”

Spoon feeding the former Navy frogman whom I idolized as a child for his strength, changing the soiled briefs of the man who changed my diapers as a child and fed and provided for me, seeing Dad’s patience through pain, serenity in suffering, and gratitude for the simplest act of care or kindness—I repeat the refrain, “Thank you, Lord, for this privilege.”

And thus a chapter is closing. After navigating necessary logistics, we will soon turn our eyes from this deathbed and set our sights back on Thailand while with the eye of faith continually looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Seeing what faith in God’s promises means in the face of death, we pray that God will use even us to share this faith with those who have never heard. Then through the joys, sorrows, victories, and defeats of mission life, we may say again, “Thank you, Lord, for this privilege.”

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