Update re: Kathy and Prayer
By Jeff Dunn, 8/25/20
Further Update from CM: At 10:20 am today I received this text from Jeff…
WooHoo! The nurse just said Kathy is making great progress! Her oxygen requirement from a machine continues to decline, meaning she is breathing much better on her own. And that means she may be moved from ICU to a floor where I can visit her. She is on track to be discharged by the weekend!!!
Her nurse (today it’s John) is going to get her to sit up in a chair for awhile. She ate some breakfast this morning and that went well. All around great news!!!
Glory be to God in the highest!!!
Today, August 25, is a big day for me.
It was forty-seven years ago today I surrendered my life to our Savior, Jesus the Christ. Truly, it was the day I began to live. As St. Paul writes, “I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Today is also the forty-seventh anniversary of meeting the woman who would become my wife. Kathy Riner was a cute, curly-haired girl who that day helped to introduce me to Jesus. Seven years later, we married. There have been great times and terrible times and all kinds of times in-between, but nothing has been as hard as these last two weeks. Kathy was infected with the coronavirus, resulting in Covid-19. She deteriorated to the point of death, and was placed on a ventilator. Her doctor, a very wise and experienced expert in infectious diseases, was preparing me for the worst. I expected the next call to be one telling me my wife was gone.
This brings me to the third great thing to happen on August 25—this time on this current August 25—today. They have taken Kathy off of the ventilator and removed her feeding tube. She is recovering! She’s going to make it!
Which brings me to the point of this essay: prayer. I’ve walked with the Lord for 47 years now, and I have to admit that I know nothing of prayer. I don’t understand even the basics. So often I’ve prayed just as Jesus taught us to pray, but with no apparent effect. I ask, but I don’t receive. I seek, yet He stays hidden. I knock, and the door remains bolted from the inside. I have asked the Lord for a loaf of bread, and He gives me a stone. I request a fish, and He hands me a snake. He says, “Ask whatever you will, and my Father will grant it to you that your joy may be full.” So I ask, and ask, and ask … nothing.
I know that some will try to correct me by saying, “You have to ask according to His will.” No, I say. That’s not what Jesus teaches. He said simply and plainly, “Ask whatever you will.” He doesn’t place some religious loophole into the agreement to give Himself an out. And I am not going to put something in this teaching that Jesus never intended. So, I keep pounding at the door, shouting, “You told me to do this! Now open the damned door!” And, somehow, I believe this kind of prayer pleases our God.
So, when my wife was taken to the Covid ICU at St. John Hospital in Tulsa, I was prepared to pound on God’s door until my fists were bloodied and raw. I was going to seek Him out everywhere. I was going to ask and ask and ask and not take “No” for an answer. I saw myself praying my guts out night and day for my wife’s life to be spared. And then … then, I couldn’t pray. Not at all. Nothing. I was numb emotionally and spiritually. I was exhausted physically from lack of sleep and keeping three dozen people up-to-date throughout each day on Kathy’s condition. The best prayer I could muster was “Heal her, Lord.” That was it. But then others stepped in to pray when I couldn’t. Family and friends—some I had not heard from in years—let me know they were praying for Kathy and for me. Many churches across the country came together in prayer. Some of you wrote to let me know you were praying for my wife. It was the same as when Aaron and Hur held the arms of a numb and exhausted Moses up so the battle would go the way of the Israelites. You were Aaron and Hur to me, praying when I couldn’t.
I was able to talk with my wife this morning for the first time in more than a week. She is still very weak and her voice barely audible, but one thing she told me is that she had given up hope. She was very close to death and didn’t think she would make it. (Wouldn’t it be nice if Christians always had hope, no matter the circumstances? But that is not reality, and Jesus only deals with reality.) I’d love to say it was the prayers of a loving husband that lifted her out of despair, but I, too, had given up hope. It was your prayers and the prayers of people from coast-to-coast that held her arms up and won the battle.
She still has a long road to recovery ahead of her. We don’t yet know the extent of damage done to her organs because of this foul disease. Her mom is close to death in Ohio, and I don’t know if Kathy will be strong enough to go see her one last time. My ALS symptoms keep me from doing all I want to do to clean the house and other chores before she comes home. But all of this takes a back seat to the fact that, due to prayer that I don’t understand, my wife will survive Covid-19.
From my heart I want to say to each of you, Thank You. Thank you for praying when I couldn’t. I may never understand prayer this side of eternity, but that doesn’t keep me for being grateful to those who pray, and to our Father who is answering these prayers.