I was dumbstruck. How could Lois ask me that? I wondered.
Time seemed to stand still as I looked into my dear friend’s eyes, red and puffy from a week of tears and lack of rest. I glanced quickly around the small hospital room. My husband was quietly conversing with Rob, Lois’s husband. Their seven-year-old son, James, lay near death in the unkempt bed. He was moaning softly. The scabbed marks on his wrists and ankles betrayed the use of restraints that had tied him down during his earlier seizures. Rob had since convinced the hospital staff that the restraints were not needed if he lay on the bed with his feverish son. He stroked James’s face and arms with a damp cloth and murmured memories and endearments in an effort to keep him cool and calm. James was not only having complications from malaria and asthma, he was also experiencing heart problems caused by the differing medicines. The next morning, James would be flown on a life flight to Paris, France, from the small West African country where we all served as missionaries.
I closed my eyes and prayed. Lord, you said you would put words in our mouths. I don’t know what to say here.
When I opened my eyes, the movement of time was restored. Lois looked expectantly at me. I opened my mouth and only four words came out: “Lois, don’t be brave.” These were not words that my psychology professor would have approved, nor were they words that came from my experience as a pastor’s wife or missionary. In fact, I could not believe they had left my mouth at all, and my hand flew to cover my mouth as if to shove the unwanted words back.