For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Oh, Lord, not now. It’s Christmas…
Larry’s compressions were perfect. Two inches deep, a hundred a minute, right out of the book. John had the airway under control, an endotracheal tube in place, properly secured and ventilated. My partner, A.J., started the IV and handed me drugs. Epinephrine. Atropine.
I pushed them into the IV line, delivering just the right amount to stimulate the old man’s heart. In all it was a perfectly run code, an organized attempt to save a human life. It could not have gone any better. But deep inside I knew it was futile, he wasn’t going to make it.
“I don’t know,” I said shaking my head. “This just isn’t working. I think it’s time to stop.” I glanced at A.J. “What do you think?”
“No,” a voice behind me said. “Please don’t stop! C’mon, Daddy,” the young woman cried. “You can do it!”
I glanced around me at my patient’s family, a wife and three grown children. Their cries of support, the hope I saw on their faces, it all just about broke my heart. We’d done everything right, run a perfect code in the middle of their living room—a beautiful home decorated with Christmas tree and lights—but a flat green line traced across the ECG screen. It painted a picture of finality, a portrait of hopelessness and death.
“It’s Christmas, Dad. You can’t leave us now!”
“Honey, stay with us,” his wife cried. “We need you here.”
If there were no sin in the world, there would be no death. But we live in an imperfect world. Everyone sins. We all fall short of God’s standard. Therefore death is inevitable. But, oh Lord, sometimes it hurts so much…
I felt my eyes well up. I shook my head. “It’s no use. He’s already had three rounds of epi and atropine. One of bicarb. Pacemaker won’t capture…”
I paused and glanced at the family again. I could feel their pain, sense their loss. But as I considered my protocol I knew what I had to do.
“Larry,” I said my heart breaking as I spoke the words, “hold compressions.”
I placed my fingertips against the old man’s neck. Larry took a much-needed breather. I squinted and stared at the cardiac monitor hoping to detect a sign of life—a blip, a pulse, any indication that my patient’s heart had responded to treatment—but the thin green line continued its lonely trek across the screen. My fingers felt nothing but cool dry skin beneath them. No pulse. No warmth. No life. I glanced at Larry and shook my head.
“You can stop.”
I stood and faced the family.
I took a deep breath. A fist-sized lump threatened to close my throat.
“I’m so sorry.”
It’s hard to lose a loved one, especially when our thoughts turn homeward and old memories of Christmas fill us with hope and joy, but there’s never a convenient time. Death always seems to surprise us. It’s so final, and at times seems so unfair.
So what’s a family to do when they face such terrible loss? Where can they find peace? Where’s the hope? In Christ alone.
If we were totally obedient to God we wouldn’t need a savior. But we’re not. The Bible says we have all sinned. And with sin comes eternal darkness. But let the world rejoice, for two thousand years ago God sent his son, Jesus Christ, our one and only promise for everlasting life.
Join the conversation by adding your comments below!
What hope does Christmas give to you?
by Pat Patterson
I am a paramedic, an educator, a family man, and an adventurer. I love life, and live to go fast. I used to race motorcycles, now I ride a mountain bike. I have sailed since I was nine, taken a million pictures, studied many topics, and bandaged a lot of people. I write about what I know. So if my stories are gritty, a little fast, colorful and full of adventure, it’s because I’ve been there, on the water, in the woods, and on the street, with dying people in my arms, and that has left a deep impression on my heart.