Helpless but Not Hopeless

July 7, 2021

By Lenka Schmidt

Sometimes we do not fully realize how much we love someone until we almost lose them.

At first, for our family the coronavirus seemed like some distant disease somewhere far away. Then suddenly it landed close to our doorstep! The first serious case was my 80-year-old aunt in a nursing home who, thank God, overcame it! Then my very nice aunt Iva got it, but unfortunately, she did not survive it. This was followed by the infection of my brother’s entire family, and eventually my parents. The battle intensified. How much we prayed!

My brother’s family gradually got over the sickness; with my parents, it was worse. My father had to go to the hospital because he could not breathe properly anymore. He was in the early stages of pneumonia. He still looked good, ate alone, walked around a little bit and now and then needed oxygen. Then suddenly things changed and he ended up in the ICU. A few days later, he was in an artificially induced coma, on a ventilator. His condition became more and more serious and the doctors no longer gave us hope. Although my mother also had to go to the hospital, fortunately she soon was released to go home again. Her condition has improved greatly since then.

These have been extremely difficult days for us. I think I’ve been through every stage of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Sometimes I felt a tight pain in my chest. I bargained with God. I was mad at the whole stupid COVID situation and sad that I couldn’t be with my parents in person. On top of it, I wasn’t feeling well myself and had trouble breathing. When the news from the hospital wasn’t getting better, I began to feel hopeless. I had reached the point of acceptance that I would probably have to say goodbye to my daddy here on earth.

Despite everything, however, I personally felt God’s presence, love, and comfort. Although, I must admit, sometimes I gave Him a piece of my mind. But I know that’s okay with Him, that He knows my heart and understands how I feel and prefers that I am honest rather than pretending to be holy. I held long conversations with Him, especially at night when I couldn’t sleep. He always comforted me. Once I felt that He was telling me that He is in the hospital with my dad and that He is taking care of him. And when it looked really hopeless, He told me that Daddy would get over it, but that the recovery would take a long time. The next day the hospital told us more bad news and I believed them more than God.

At that time, a friend sent me the following: “I believe there is great strength and comfort in prayer. It is not a means to ‘move’ God, but it is a possibility, an invitation, to be closer to Him and to bring others to Him. Somehow it changes us when we think about others more than ourselves.”

How deep this truth is! These kinds of difficult situations deepen our relationship with God. They restore our confidence that He is with us even in the worst situations and that even if we are not in control, He is, and He loves us very much, no matter what happens. It’s a genuine experience of God’s love and care.

Since my dad wasn’t the first to get sick in our family, we were a little better prepared and sent out more prayer requests than we had before for my aunt and others. Some of our close friends even passed our prayer requests on to others. All over the world people prayed for him ... until God did a miracle!

The very next day the hospital told us that Daddy had been taken off the life support system and that he was breathing on his own! It will still be a struggle, but we won’t give up. Jesus is still the same. And just as He did miracles for people in the Bible, He can do them for us! “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”1 How extremely grateful we are to Him, to all the doctors and nurses who took such good care of my dad and to all those who have continued to fight with us. God bless them all!

What else did we do besides praying constantly? We memorized verses from the Bible on the theme of healing and “reminded” God of them. Especially these two: “Jesus Christ heals you” and “He gives power to the faint, and to them that have no might He increases strength.”2 (We even wrote them on the tiles in our bathroom along with our prayer requests.)

We also strengthened our faith by reading Christian literature and listening to various sermons. Sometimes we were fasting. My husband skipped some meals; I didn’t eat sweets for a while and stopped watching my favorite TV shows. One time Jesus’ disciples asked Him: “Why could we not heal the boy?” Jesus answered them, “Because of your unbelief … this case needs prayer and fasting.”3

At one point, I felt I should start thanking God in advance that He had already healed my father, even though we did not yet hold the physical evidence of his healing in our hands. It was another thing that we believe helped.

Another crucial thing, which is also a principle of how God works, was to “give up” in the sense of putting the whole situation in God’s hands, no matter what happens in the end. Every time we put something we really want into His hands, He opens His arms to us. It doesn’t mean we will necessarily get what we want—that’s why it takes a lot of courage, and sometimes we do it with bated breath—but it always frees His hands to do what’s best for us. And in time, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that He just knows better than we do, though sometimes it takes us a long time to find something good in it.

The one who had the most faith all along was probably our daughter Anissa. It was a big lesson for me to see how children just trust. In her mind, it was simple: “Either God will heal Grandpa or take him to heaven. In either case, he will be happy!” I don’t think she could relate to our worries. She once said: “Maybe God hasn’t healed him yet, because when it gets worse, it’ll be a real miracle when he’s healed!”

Several days after my father had been brought back from the induced coma and was doing better, the attending doctor told me on the phone that just days ago they thought that my dad was going to die. I told him that a lot of people were praying and that it worked.

The only one who can work miracles is God, and He gets our biggest thanks! We feel for those whose loved ones have not recovered from their illness. We don’t know why someone gets better and someone else doesn’t, but we can be sure that God is with those who are sick and with us when we are full of pain. He’s very close to us and is always holding us.

Every Easter we remember Jesus’ resurrection. Let us not forget that His power to heal and perform miracles still applies to us at this present time.

(LATEST NEWS FLASH: My dad is out of hospital after a little over two months. It took him a while to learn to walk again and his lungs are not completely healed yet, but recently he has taken public transport, went for a visit and shopping, and drove back with his car. Praise God!)

1 Hebrews 13:8.

2 Acts 9:34, Isaiah 40:29.

3 Matthew 17:19–21.

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