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Sam: Acceptance & Forgiveness
Sam was a recovering drug addict who was dying of cancer. I met him after his admission to Community Hospice. He lived in the house where several of his relatives died violently and his son was incarcerated for murdering his sister. Sam told me his agonizing story, and it was obvious that he spent his time dwelling on his tragic past. He felt if he had been a better father and husband, all those things wouldn’t have happened and wondered if Jesus could forgive him.
Sam felt like he had no purpose for living and was allowing his past to consume him as he faced the end of his life. I encouraged him with scripture about forgiveness and told him we would be spending time talking through his past so he could accept God’s grace and forgive himself. As Sam began declining physically, he continued to be depressed; but even while dwelling on his mistakes, he seemed to find some spiritual relief in our time together.
After six weeks, I arrived one day and was greeted by an enthusiastic Sam. He was excited to see me and invited me to pray with him. It was clear by his bright smile that something had changed. I told him that he could spend his remaining days looking back at his past with regret, or he could give his sadness to God and look forward to an eternity in His presence. Sam simply replied: “I’m not looking back any more.”
Just two months before coming to Community Hospice, Sam had no hope and faced the possibility of dying without closure. Over that time, he came to realize that God had not given up on him. I will never forget Sam’s story of acceptance and forgiveness.
Aaron Saufley, Chaplain, Greenville, NC