No Hospitals in Heaven

My family has spent a lot of time in the hospital. I mean a lot. My son, Kaleb, has spent more time in the hospital than anybody I know. From the time he was born, until the present day, hospitalizations have been a common part of his life. Hospital stays have ranged from a day, to several weeks, to months at a time.

His story is too long to recount here, but he has many medical issues that make his life more difficult than most. He has experienced unbelievable circumstances, medical mistakes, and even some miracles. I capture his story and the lessons God has taught us in a podcast called Hopeful Sufferers.

The last two years have been hard. Kaleb got sick from fungal meningitis in the fall of 2017. It caused a stroke that wiped out his motor skills, speech, and other things we had previously taken for granted. This new reality only made previous issues he dealt with (e.g. having a kidney transplant and lung disease) more complicated to navigate. He comes in to the hospital with UTI’s and respiratory issues with some regularity.

It hit me while walking the hospital halls recently that the place felt like home. It’s sad, to be honest. The place that should feel foreign and out of place for most people feels like our second home. We have been coming to this hospital for 15 years. We know the doctors and nurses, care partners, and respiratory therapists like family. We have given one of our main doctors the nickname “Grandpa Hall.” You have to laugh in the midst of crying.

Kaleb’s latest admission has been primarily focused on his lungs. He has struggled to keep his oxygen levels up and has needed BiPAP. This is one step below needing a breathing tube placed in your throat. The labor and effort required to breathe wears him out. He has slept a lot.

I took the picture above of him after praying for him. He had been sleeping most of the day. I wanted him to know that I was there, and most importantly, I wanted to remind him of the promises of God. The Reed family regularly rehearses and recites those promises. We cling to the reality that these present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).

In my prayer, whispered in Kaleb’s ear, I reminded him that God is using his life. I reminded him that his story is being used by God to encourage others and point them to their need for Jesus. Then I told him we have such an incredible future awaiting us. The New Heavens and New Earth will be filled with lots of laughter, lots of singing, and lots of running and dancing. I also reminded him of what won’t be there: hospitals. These momentary afflictions won’t follow us into God’s glorious future.

My prayer finished by reminding him, and myself, that this incredible promise was signed, sealed, and delivered solely because of the finished work of our Savior, Jesus. Our Lord personally guaranteed our future life by laying down his life in death. Jesus then walked out of the tomb, the first fruits of a resurrection future. Because he lives, we can face tomorrow. Because he lives, we know that we too will live.

In this life to come, we will live with Jesus, enjoying him and his blessings forever. And there will be no hospitals!