I’ve written about everyone else at a CODE BLUE–an event, usually in a hospital where a person’s heart has stopped and a team of people gathers to restart it. I wrote about how to talk with God about all the people who are gathering. When I wrote it, I didn’t talk about how to talk with God about the person.
God, at this moment, there are people who are trying to restart a stopped heart. God, in this space at the edge of life and death, I do not know what to ask you for.
I know too much and not enough.
I know the research about CPR. I know that the longer this process goes, and the older the body, the lower the chances that the person will walk out of this hospital. The higher the chances that the lack of oxygen to the brain will cause irreversible brain damage. The more that the bones in the chest are breaking.
For this family, this person is 1 in a million. For you this person fully matters. But even as we are talking, the chances are slipping away. From 1 in 3 to 1 in 5 to 1 in 10 to 1 in 100. To zero.
I know the conversations we have about quality of life, about playing God, about doing everything possible, about one last chance to know you. I know that for people who say they love you and believe the Bible, the fear of making you mad by making wrong choices is a real fear. I know that fear isn’t consistent with your character.
I believe that our times are in your hands. I believe that our days are limited, that it is appointed to humans to die, in these bodies at least. I believe that we don’t know when that day and time will be.
I know the stories of people who, in a variety of situations, with insurmountable odds, endured and thrived. I know Ellen’s story who wondered why she was brought back when she had said that she didn’t want to be resuscitated and who died a couple days after our conversation.
I believe that what looks like dead isn’t. And yet I know when we don’t hear a heartbeat and don’t see a heart moving with ultrasound and don’t see any reflexes when we shine lights in pupils, that the person is dead.
I believe that dead people can come back to life. I believe that there was a young man who was really dead that you raised and a girl who was really dead that you raised and a young man that Elisha raised and a woman that made clothes and a handful of other people. I know that there were many people when you were living, Jesus, that you didn’t bring back to life. And I know that except for the people who are alive now, everyone who has ever lived has died, even if they came back briefly. Except, of course, for you, Jesus, the firstborn of us.
All of those thoughts are swirling through my mind, God, as we stand here, now.
But I confess that I don’t know what to ask you about this person in this room with a heart that is stopped.
I don’t want to be disappointed, to have this family devastated by your apparent inaction.
I don’t want to be unfaithful, to believe that if only we had prayed harder you might have brought them back, as if this death is someone on our hands.
And I acknowledge that, for all we know, they are already absent from this body in front of us, being prodded and pushed. And I acknowledge that, for all I know, this person will start talking in 15 hours. Or 15 minutes. Or right now.
I confess that I don’t know what will happen. But in this moment, I know you are here. And with this person. And so God, even as we ask many things for everyone else in this room, I ask that this person in this moment at the edge of life and death will know your love and your peace.
I’ve written about books that review decision-making at end of life.