God Won’t Give Up On You

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Recently was the first time that I saw my grandmother completely helpless. 

Growing up, I was raised by my grandmother.  My mother was a single mom supporting the household by herself financially, so she was always at work, and my sister was eight years older than me, so she was already away at college when I was young.  As a result, my grandmother became my all, my rock – father and mother, encourager, teacher, discipliner, guide and authority figure all in one.  She had such a strong personality, a fierce protective spirit, and what it seemed like infinite energy.  I never saw her not doing something.  She was always moving, always cooking, always thinking and worrying about each of her grandkids and how she could get them to study more and achieve more, reach their full potential in both career, life and love.  That was my grandma.  “Active” was an understatement. 

When you have someone like that in your life, somehow I think you assume that they will always be around, that they will never change, that somehow the strongest memory of them in your mind is how they will always be, no matter how much older or wiser you yourself get.

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My grandma is now 90 years old.  Since she lives up in the Bay Area, I only get to see her periodically on trips up to North from time to time.  My mother and sister recently gave me the news that she had had a bad fall.  And they said “like with all old people, one bad thing leads to another, until you have a downward spiral.”

Even though they gave me that warning, I was still shocked on my first visit home after her fall.  My once super active hands-in-everything grandma was now using a walker for the first time just to stand.  She had to stop and rest with every few feet she walked.  This was so not like her.  Up until a few weeks before her accident, she would even walk all up and down the hill of her Senior Apartment by herself to buy groceries or pick up things from the drug store.  Even into her 70’s and 80’s she was walking an hour a day.  I remember times when I even had to take a nap myself, unable to keep up with her constant pace.

Over the next few months, my mother and sister would report how my grandmother was gradually deteriorating, getting worse and worse.  The constant pain in her leg and back from the fall was one thing – but now that she couldn’t do the things she enjoyed anymore, like walking and having her independence to go where she wanted when she wanted, my grandma’s spirit was broken.  The enemy was stealing her joy through this injury.

Things came to a head on the night before my next visit home when we heard my grandma had been admitted to the hospital.  She was in such constant pain that she couldn’t handle it anymore.  She couldn’t sit, couldn’t lie down, couldn’t sleep without pain.  My father, who was a doctor before he retired, was warning me that I should probably prepare to see her for the last time, to come to terms with the fact that she there was a strong chance that she could pass away.  A lot of my relatives had been coming into town to see her already, as if they were paying their last respects.

On the Southwest flight up with Rachel, I had to work up the courage to pray for her.  To declare victory over her injury in Jesus name.  So I brought a copy of “Ever Increasing Faith” by Smith Wigglesworth and read it on the ride up.  He was the famous evangelist in the early 1900’s who would literally walk into hospitals and pull the sick out from their beds healed by Christ.  So in that mindset, I was expecting to see the same thing.

When we finally made it to the hospital, I don’t think I was prepared for what I saw.  My mighty spark plug grandmother that I had always remembered was just lying in her hospital bed, shaking and crying to herself.  She was scared.  Scared like a child.  I had never seen her like that before.  She was confused, scared, and didn’t know what was going to come next, as if any moment could be the end.

If my wife hadn’t been there interceding for me in the hospital hallway while I prayed, I think I would have lost my nerve.  How do you see someone you love like that and not lose some faith?  But because I knew Rachel was there covering me, I decided to be bold.  In the name of Jesus I declared healing over my grandma in that hospital room, that her injury would be gone, that her broken spirit would be renewed.  In my heart, I wanted the to leap off that hospital bed, and go for a long walk with me, like nothing had ever happened.  But that didn’t happen.  She continued to cry and shake side to side.  I don’t even think she realized that I was in there praying for her.  But regardless, I kept praying.  I prayed in faith that God wouldn’t allow her life and her joy to be stolen from her by a sneaky and ridiculous accident.  And from just “one thing leading to another.”  That may have been fine for other people, but as a strong woman of faith, I declared that that wasn’t going to be her destiny.  God wasn’t going to allow her to robbed of her life by a technicality.

It was almost the end of visiting hours, so we had to leave.  I was disappointed, I think, in my heart that she didn’t come leaping out of bed fully healed.  Rachel could see me a little down.  She was trying to encourage me and make me feel better, to not lose heart or faith.

As we were talking, we got into an elevator with two other men who had been visiting other patients.  Rachel was saying to me, “Don’t give up Dan, miracles happen every day you know?”

One of the other men out of the blue said “that’s true actually.”  At first, I was kind of put off, because it was a personal moment and this stranger had started talking to us.  But when I explained what we were doing – praying for my grandma to be healed, the guy suddenly started sharing about his life.

“I used to work in construction,” he said.  “One day there was an accident at work, and a big wall I was working on totally collapsed on me.  I was covered in bricks.  It broke my back and shattered a few of my vertebrae.  Doctors told me I would never be able to walk again.”  He paused, then motioned to himself as he continued.  “But here I am – walking.  Like nothing ever happened to me.  Miracles do happen.”

And with that, the elevator reached the bottom floor, and we walked out, each of us on our separate ways.  Rachel and I had a huge smile on our face.  We knew this was too weird to have been a total coincidence.  If God had gone to such great lengths to happen to send us a total stranger at just the right time with just the right story and just the right words we needed to hear, we knew my grandma would be okay.

The next morning, we went back to the hospital to see her.  To everyone’s surprise – except ours – it was almost a complete 180.  She was up, talking, eating, having conversations with everyone as if nothing had ever happened.  Even without her glasses, she said “Rachel, you’re wearing new shoes!” pointing to her sneakers she had never seen before.  I don’t think anyone else other than my super sharp grandma had noticed.  We all laughed together.  God had heard and answered our prayers.  Even if everyone had given up on her, God hadn’t given up on her.  And she was grateful for what He had done.

A few months later, my grandmother was hospitalized again, this time because she had gone into some kind of coma from the wrong combination of medications.  She was found unresponsive at her home and the ambulance had to take her to be admitted again.  Apparently her kidneys were at risk of failure, and it could be fatal.  Everyone again was worried – thinking this could be the end, preparing me for the worst.  But as we were flying up from LA, I couldn’t keep thinking of God sending us that messenger of hope that one night.  That He hadn’t given up on her.

We went to the hospital after we landed.  This time, my grandma was totally unresponsive to everything.  But full of faith from last time, we prayed over her again, knowing in our hearts that this was not how God was going to have her go out, not like this.  We both felt the presence of the Holy Spirit so strongly as we prayed.  We were almost brought to tears by how much love we could feel from God for my grandma.

The next morning her kidneys had started working again and she was coming out of the coma state.  By the day after that, she was her usual self again.  Sitting up in bed – pointing out pillows that had been put in the wrong place, recognizing each of us and having full conversations.

Rachel and I flew back to LA.  A day later, my sister called me to say my grandma was at her house, and they were all sitting around, enjoying a meal, eating pizza together.  I couldn’t help but smile.  It was such an incredibly normal – and thus incredibly beautiful moment they got to share together.  Right in the wake of the storm.

I’m convinced that, even in the darkest moments, God believes in you, loves you, and is looking out for you.  When the world has given up on you, when you have nowhere and no one to turn to for help, even when you have given up on yourself, God has not given up on you.  Take heart.  God is love, and love never fails.

Image Credit: Flickr / iamroco