Author - Speaker - teacher

Life & Love Are in His Hands

March 25, 2002


Rosanne sat alongside her aged mother’s bed, softly stroking her bony arm. Weighing less than 70 pounds, Sylvia had eaten no more than 200 calories a day for nearly five weeks. Age and Merkel Cell Cancer had conspired to sap the life from the 83-year old woman.

I sat on the other side of the bed, watching her care for and communicate with her mother. Sylvia complained often that she interfered with Rosanne’s life. Since Bernie’s death in 1999, Rosanne, her only child, had served as her cab driver, financial adviser, lay-doctor, housing agent.

The three years caring for Sylvia had been busy and often difficult. Rosanne’s continuous acts of love closed gaps in their relationship and drew them closer, as friends. Sylvia humbly and proudly pointed to her daughter, saying, “I don’t know what I would have done without her.”

Sitting there in the hospice at Our Lady of Good Counsel, our five children, and we found precious time to talk together; to remember, to love grandma and each other, to learn about life and the Lifegiver.

God used Sylvia to bring our close family closer together. Her life, we saw, still had great value even though she could no longer even refresh herself with a sip of water.

Though her body lay weakened by cancer, her spirit rested in perfect peace. So it seemed with the others we saw who came to Our Lady of Good Counsel to die. We heard no screams of pain. We saw no tubes mechanically sustaining life. Instead, we saw nuns expressing the love of Christ in continuous acts of care and kindness.

As Jesus receives Sylvia into heaven, I believe she will exclaim, “Thank you for filling my daughter with Your love. She has been Your good and faithful servant.”

Rosanne’s obedient acts of love were the catalyst for all this, but it was not the first time.

In January, 1982 I watched Rosanne sitting upright on the bed at home, her back against the wall, wondering what might happen next. After 12 years of trying to prevent conception, she had become pregnant.

Deb and Deanna, our two girls, were already 11 and 10. But during the past November, Rosanne had held a weeklong meeting with God about what to do with her “reproductive rights” (she never would use that term, but the irony is powerful in the context of her story). Rosanne became convinced that God told her to trust Him with her womb. (See “God Said Trust Me With Your Womb.”) She did, and she had become pregnant, a pregnancy that resulted from her act of humble obedience.

That January day, though, she had begun spotting. The doctor told her to go to bed. He said she might be having a miscarriage.

I lay next to her on the bed during the few hours of our wait. We talked about family, life, love, and obedience. During those hours before she lost that child, God used that tiny life to bring us closer together. We both knew that He had authored that life, and that fact had a profound impact on us, and on the three children that followed later on.

As Jesus received that little baby into heaven, I believe it might have said, “Thank you for filling my mother with Your love. She has been Your good and faithful servant.”

But this story is not about Rosanne, it is about God’s sovereignty. He authored that baby’s life; he authored Sylvia’s life. He wove these lives together in an intricate tapestry of great beauty, and at His appointed hour, chose to weave a heavenly tapestry for them both.

Those people who fail to understand God’s sovereignty as the source of life see no value in an unborn baby’s life and so, have no reservation about aborting it. Those same people might have ended Sylvia’s life at her first sign of depression or discovery of cancer by “putting her out of her misery”—euthanasia.  Their motives ultimately are rooted in the same foul soil—the inconvenience of the living having to care for the vulnerable. So they see fit to end the life of an “unwanted child” and an “unwanted old woman.” To them, both lives are disposable since they serve no practical personal value.

But both of these lives, in their own way, impact the rest of us for time and eternity. God, the Lifegiver, controlled all this. He asked only one thing of Rosanne—obedience.

God changed her from a woman who wanted no more children, to a doting mother nearly unable to release her teens into the world; from a difficult and tense relationship with her mother to become her mother’s caregiver. 

Rosanne trusted God with her womb. She trusted God with her mother. At both ends of life, God remained sovereign. This is as it ought to be—trusting God, the author of life and author of love.