Doxology at the Bedside

Chaplain Leigh Ann Min, M.Div., BCC
Walker Baptist Medical Center

"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.  Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”  (Psalm 100 NRSV)

I was at the hospital bedside with a family who had received the dreaded news from the medical team, “we don’t know how long your family member has to live. His medical condition is such that there is no treatment to reverse his condition or increase his lifespan. We will focus on keeping him comfortable (work to reduce his physical pain) and arrange it so that your family can have time with him (place him on a regular nursing, non-intensive care unit).”

This was a very loving and caring family. Even though the patient was unable to respond to his loved ones, they spoke “to” him and “about” him as if he could hear the conversation. They told wonderful stories about the times they shared together and spoke of their love for each other. They told of their love for certain activities and interests, the shared giftedness passed on through the generations of which three were present in the room. This was a family of faith filled with Christian love and a spirit of hopefulness. Even though it was a very emotionally painful time, their faith provided a connectedness and shared supportiveness that was beautiful to be a part of and to witness.

Perhaps then, it is no surprise that after this patient’s death, the family was able to be at the bedside to sing a hymn of thanksgiving and praise to God celebrating the gift of life and the gift of eternal life for themselves and their loved one, lives held together in Christ. It was a profound moment filled with sadness and joy; a moment of doxology.

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen. 

Prayer: O Lord, give us the strength and courage to praise you with our whole lives especially when we are in the midst of some of the hardest moments we face in life, losing our loved ones.  For those of us who may experience greater sadness during the holiday season because we miss our loved ones who have died, give us assurance of your presence with us, you made us, we are yours, the sheep of your pasture. May we have a sense of your steadfast love that endures forever, to all generations. Hold us in your loving arms as we say thank you for our lives and the lives of those we love. Amen.

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