Listen to my prayer, O God. Do not ignore my cry for help! Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles. My enemies shout at me, making loud and wicked threats. They bring trouble on me and angrily hunt me down. … Oh, that I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! [Psalm 55:1-3,6 (NLT)]
In Psalm 55, as he did in many of his psalms, David lamented the attack of his enemies. What is unusual in this case is that David’s enemies were not strangers; he’d been betrayed by both family and friend. His son Absalom was plotting to seize his throne and, making matters worse, David’s trusted counselor Ahithophel had joined Absalom in the conspiracy.
As I read David’s psalm this morning, I thought of dear friends and how easily David’s words could be theirs. Mary and John have also been betrayed—not by a child or trusted advisor but by John’s body. Now in the end stages of Parkinson’s disease, his body is in out-and-out rebellion. His lack of balance and stiffness confine him to a wheelchair, he has difficulty swallowing or speaking, and he’s combating cognitive decline. No longer willing to fight this battle, John has chosen to stop his therapies and start hospice care. Like David, I’m sure both Mary and John wish they had wings like a dove and could fly away from his situation.
Many don’t think of degenerative diseases like MS, ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s, as fatal; nevertheless, the complications and problems that accompany them often are. Sadly, several people in my life, like John, have bodies that are progressively betraying them. David’s words could easily have been written by them or anyone else with an incurable disease. Unlike my friend John, however, they continue to wage war with their adversary.
My husband and I were saddened by John’s choice to surrender to his disease. Then again, we sit on the sidelines and there is no way we can truly understand his battlefield or the challenges faced by John and his wife every day. We realize this is neither our battle nor a decision in which we have any say. If John wants to end the war and fly away to a place of rest, all we can do is offer our love, support and prayers.
Heavenly Father, we offer prayers for those who are suffering from debilitating diseases. Comfort their families; give them strength and encouragement in their difficult roles as caregivers. Watch over your stricken children, both those who are still battling their afflictions and those who have chosen to surrender to their foes. Give them courage to face their tomorrows, however many or few they may be. Fortify their faith in the challenging days ahead and reassure them of your presence. When their battle is over, gently carry them to your heavenly place of rest where pain is no longer experienced and bodies are no longer broken.
Death to the Christian is the funeral of all his sorrows and evils and the resurrection of all his joys. [John Aughey]
You’re born. You suffer. You die. Fortunately, there’s a loophole. [Billy Graham]