on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

Thank You God, Thank You

He is in his early 20’s, young, and so much life yet still to live.

I met him in his hospital room.  He had a severely injured leg from an accidental gun shot wound and was scheduled for surgery to amputate his leg in a couple of days.

Even though his life was changing and nothing would ever be the same, he welcomed me into his world.  I tried to listen, to encourage, to learn from his life experience.  He was thankful to be alive, and yet was grieving the upcoming loss of a leg that had always been his companion.

The day of surgery came and his mother was waiting and praying for her son. She abruptly got up and walked over to the phone at the receptionist’s desk and asked to speak with her son’s surgeon before the surgery.  It was an unusual and inconvenient request for all concerned.

When the surgeon was handed the phone, the Mom said, “Please take one more look at my son’s leg before you begin, just one more look.  Please be sure.”  Anyone who is a parent would understand the request.

I will take a look,” the surgeon replied.  “I understand what you are saying but we both know that your son has signed a consent form and he is of age to do so.”

“I know, I know, but please look it over one more time,” the mother pleaded.  “I will look,” the surgeon relented, “but I do not expect to see anything different.”

About thirty minutes later, a nurse came into the waiting room to find the mother and told her the doctor wanted to speak with her.  “I want you to know,” the surgeon said with a smile, “that I am surprised to find as much pink skin around the wound,” signifying the leg could possibly be saved.  “I am not going to amputate this leg today.”

The mother shouted, “Thank you God, thank you!” as they stood in the hallway.  Her loud praise spilled into the waiting room and before long people were coming over to see what was happening.  The story was repeated throughout the surgical waiting room and it encouraged others who were waiting.

A few days later I walked into the young man’s room and he showed me a journal, “So that I can remember and tell others my story so that they can be encouraged too,” he said with a broad smile.

Some days all of us are the young man, thankful to be alive but grieving parts of ourselves that will no longer be the same.

Some days all of us are the surgeon, hearing the request to look again at what is routine for us, and if we do so, we are sometimes surprised.

Some days all of us are the other families in the waiting room, concerned about our own but inspired by the good news of another.

And finally, some days all of us are the mother, willing to ask the inconvenient question believing against all odds that things can be different.

Regardless who we are in the story, our response is one of gratitude, “Thank you God, thank you.”


  1. Loraine Smith

    Malcolm, I am enjoying your thoughts very much. I think the young man in this story would have been OK even if he had lost his leg because he seems to have learned a valuable lesson that Cancer has taught me. One must not waste time comparing the present to the past, but move forward searching for new ways to minister. Loraine Smith

  2. Malcolm

    Dear Loraine, I think you are exactly right about this young man, he would have been ok if he had lost his leg or not. He was free from his anxiety a couple of days before his surgery and was willing to move ahead.

    From your experience with cancer, you know this freedom from worry better than most of us. I am trying to learn from you and this young man.

    Thanks for your comments and for being a reader on my blog.

    Peace to you,

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