Death Doesn’t Mean the End– My thoughts on how God heals.

I believe that God heals. I believe that in the midst of irreversible situations, God can bring about unexplainable medical miracles. I believe that all we have to do is ask in Jesus’ name, and receive healing and restoration of epic proportions. I believe that even if our faith is minuscule, that my God created us and no matter how difficult it may seem to heal a human of disease, paralysis, genetic or neurological conditions, that HE can do it without any trouble and He loves us so much that He will do it. All we have to do ask and receive.

 

Three months ago Shawn and I went for a ride to get Taco Casa. (For those of you missing out, Taco Casa is the most indulgent fast-food Mexican on the face of this earth. There are only 9 locations and they are all in the City of Champions– Tuscaloosa.) It was a pretty Sunday, and rather than stuffing our faces in the parking lot I decided to drive over the dam and past the lake. When we finished our snack burritos I drove a little further, and we ended up in the county.

 

Around sunset, we spotted a white lab mix wandering around a vacant lot. Shawn told me we should pull over, but I rebutted with “This is the county and there aren’t leash laws. The dog is probably lives here”. About 10 minutes later, we both felt too much compassion to let the dog go. We were feeding her half of a Clif bar and making phone calls to see what we should do. The mid-sized dog didn’t belong to anyone around the area, so we took her home for what was supposed to be one night.

 

After a week long stay at the animal shelter, no one claimed the dog. My mom and I went to get her back, because she was entirely too sweet and well-behaved to be left at the county shelter. It was spring break, and we were headed to Georgia to relax at the campground. The dog was so well-temperd, that we borrowed our neighbors’ kennel and took her with us.

 

Just in those few days alone, we were amazed with how well-behaved she was. The only thing was that she seemed to have a cold, so when we got back to Tuscaloosa we took her to the vet. They gave her an antibiotic and she went to live with my aunt and  uncle (because we already have two huge labs, and they didn’t get along). It was a temporary arrangement because we figured someone would take this amazing dog.

 

About a week later, her name became Bonnie and my aunt and uncle were enjoying watching her interact with a cat named Opal. However, we got a call one day and my aunt told us she had been having bad seizures. They took her to the vet and they gave her phenobarbital to make the seizures subside. Fortunately, they did. But they wanted to know why these seizures were happening. The vet found that Bonnie had tapeworms and that could be the reason for her seizures.

 

Two months later, the dog came to live at our house. She hadn’t had any seizures, but was still having an issue with the parasites. So we took her to vet once again, where she had a massive dose of medication. We felt like the issue had been taking care of and were really having fun with her being around the house. Bonnie was so sweet, but she did have a constant need for attention. It was endearing, and you always ended up petting her.

 

This past Friday, I woke up to an awful scratching noise in my parents bedroom. When I got up, my parents said she had two seizures and they had contacted the vet to see what needed to be done. More phenobarbital was the prescription, but more seizures were the result. Over a 24-hour period, poor Bonnie had 5 seizures (each lasted for several minutes) and 3 the next morning. Our vet really felt like she needed to be put to sleep, for her benefit. She was suffering and since seizures cause brain damage, it was only getting worse. However, EmergiVet, (not trusting our very knowledgable vet) wouldn’t let us do it. We tried one more form of medication.

This medication was worse. Although it masked the violent seizures, she began to constantly pace and whine. It never stopped. My mom and I slept in the kitchen on an air mattress because she couldn’t walk up the stairs. But we hardly slept, because she kept walking in the same circle all night. Clearly, she was not in good condition, nor was she comfortable. I prayed so hard that the Lord would just heal her and give us a home to put her in.

 

This morning we texted the vet and told him what was happening. Immediately, he called us and told us that the problem was definitely neurological. The length of the seizures, and the aftermath (weak legs, poor vision, and pacing) meant that it was only getting worse. The medications might mask the seizures for a while, but it could never make the problem go away. He felt that it was time to put sweet Bonnie to sleep. So my mother, sister, and I reluctantly took her to the vet. We cried on the ride home and went over the details of her bad condition. Even thought the dog was sweet, her body was not okay.

 

Does any of this sound familiar? For us it is. Of course, you can’t feasibly compare a dog to a human when talking about their life. But for 3 days we had to take care of a special needs animal, staying up all night to make sure she was okay. My mother told me “We’ve done this before”.

 

It’s been 4 years since our family’s life and functionality was completely changed. We went from not being able to go to the grocery store  2 minutes down the road without considering the weather or packing up the wheelchair, to being like every other normal family. For these past 3 days we were reminded of what it’s like to be so limited by neurological conditions and special needs. When I look at what’s happened over the past 3 months, my initial thought is “why did we do all of that to just have her not make it?” When Laura passed away my thought was “why was she around for 12 years, with us firmly believing that God would heal her on earth only for her to be made whole in heaven?”

 

It’s the insolvable mystery. The question that no one wants to ask or answer. But unfortunately, it’s a question that has occurred in my life several times. It doesn’t mean that my faith has been compromised, in fact, if at all it has been strengthened. I know that no matter what, these situations have been in the Lord’s hands and he is the ultimate Healer. He knows what He’s doing. And even though I miss my sister so much, and prayers were not quite answered in the way that we thought they might be, it’s okay. Everything is okay.

 

I loved Bonnie, and I hate that she is gone. Shawn told me, “I just really felt like we were supposed to find her and she was supposed to be ours”. That statement completely encompassed the feelings that my mom, my aunt and my uncle were having. But my uncle said, “Just because this is happening doesn’t mean we weren’t supposed to find her. I can already think of 3 benefits that came out of this: 1. Bonnie has been able to live a good life for 3 months. Better than what she would’ve had otherwise. 2. I have more compassion for people with epilepsy, and I can empathize with them much easier. That alone has been good. I work at the VA, and in 5 years of working there have never encountered any epileptic patients. But over the past two months, I have met and been able to help 4 epileptic people. 3. We’ve been able to enjoy her as a pet.”

 

When Andy (my uncle) told me this, I realized that he was right and I could only add to the list of positives that came out of tragedy. But here is my MAJOR disclaimer: In all of my experiences with these difficult situations NOT ONCE have I ever felt that God MAKES these things happen. We humans, brought original sin into the world. We are cursed with it from birth, and there is an enemy that from day 1 starts scheming ways to win our souls and destroy us. God gives us free will because He loves us and He wants us to have the freedom to choose Him because we love Him, not because He made us love Him. Thank God for His Son Jesus. Christ is the reason we can overcome that. But just because we can overcome it, doesn’t mean that it goes away. Satan is real, and unfortunately he has more power than we do. Through Christ we can have power over the enemy, but we can’t do it alone. In these difficult situations, He gives us the strength we need, and when situations get worse God can turn them into better situations. Just because my sister wasn’t healed doesn’t mean that God didn’t answer our prayer. I will see her again one day, and for now she’s better off than me.

 

So often, we tend to think small. We becoming narrow-minded with our blinders on and focus what earth has to offer and the worldly standard that we want to live up to. But what is this life in comparison to eternity? The promise of eternal life with Christ in heaven is so much more powerful than our brief lives on earth. He died for us so that we may have life with Him there. That is the biggest miracle of all. We get to live in joy and love with our God where there is no sorrow or pain. Forever. So everything is going to be okay. And the best part is, He forgives us and washes away every horrible thing we’ve done.

 

I know that it may seem silly that the death of my rescue dog should muster up these feelings again. But I tell you what. It’s reminded me of what I went through 4 years ago ( and continue to go through), and helped me put things back into perspective. I am so sad for Bonnie. But oh my gosh, my God is so good to me. The promise that He has given us despite our wretchedness is so wonderful that words cannot describe it. These situations are heartbreaking. But it’s going to be okay.

 

I don’t know what you’ve been through. I don’t know how you’re dealing with it. I don’t know if you are in an active relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit or if you know Him at all. But I know that His love is great enough to cover all sorrow and brokenness and that life with Him is worth living. This promise is so great that it makes me realize how much time I waste by not spending time in prayer and in the Word in pursuit of Him. He is the best thing that could ever happen to me. And from my experience, He is the only being that can get you through all of life’s shortcomings and all of Satan’s attacks. I know this is deep for a Monday, but revel in the hope that He brings and know I’m here to pray for you and with you.

 

Love y’all,

 

Chaslee

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