I consider myself prepared for most anything; whether it’s a flat tire (tow service) or a natural disaster (back-up power). But as I’ve thought about these preparations this month, I wondered if there are some things you just can’t prepare for. I’ve come to the conclusion: Yes.
Let me give you just a couple of examples.
In 2006 my 83-year-old dad was preparing for hip replacement surgery. He had waited two years for this surgery that would alleviate pain and allow him to be more active. The day before the scheduled procedure he drove himself to complete various errands to be ready for his return home in a couple of days. He was ready.
I prepared our guest room for Dad to stay in during those few days after coming home when he would need some assistance. I even bought his favorite snack foods. I was ready.
None of us were really ready. Within a week, Dad was declining rapidly. It wasn’t long before we were discussing in-home nursing care, then hospice. The supply of snacks didn’t matter at that point. Soon after Dad went to be with His Lord. While he was prepared to meet Jesus, on the day of surgery none of us were prepared for what was to come.
My son was in the Marine Corp and having a tough time of it. Tough enough he was being discharged. While waiting for his discharge orders, he called from Mississippi. He was stationed in Florida. I answered the phone with “What are you doing in Mississippi?” I was not prepared for his answer.
“I’m in the hospital here. I tried to kill myself.” Is any parent ever ready for those words?
During that hospital stay, my son was diagnosed with a serious mental illness. Although we look back and realize that there were signs of this coming, we were never given information that would have prepared us for what was to come. Would we have accepted it if we had been made aware.
A serious mental illness changes a person’s life; it changes the family as well.
Both of these incidents have a certain amount of preparation. None of us really knows what the future has for us individually. We can prepare for these major turns in our lives, but we can’t prepare for the details.
The one and only preparation I have for these times is hope and faith in Christ. I have hope that Dad is at the foot of God’s throne and someday I’ll join him there. I have faith that God will protect my son as navigates his illness and his life.
Hope and faith in God and His Son doesn’t eliminate the problems. It isn’t a magic formula. It is the best preparation for anything.