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 (Manna 48)
The Shadow of the Valley of Death
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Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

Just a few more years, Lord!

On December 4, 1999, Brother Ming Kai Wu went to the hospital for an exam after having coughed for more than a month. The doctor told him, “Just go ahead and enjoy whatever it is that you like to eat or buy.” When Ming Kai heard this, he knew things were seriously wrong. It turned out that he had been diagnosed with more than twenty tumors in his body.

Completely unprepared for something of this magnitude, Ming Kai could not accept the diagnosis. But through the doctor’s persuasion, he reluctantly checked into the hospital to receive chemotherapy.

Ming Kai stayed in a comfortable and beautiful hospital room, but he hardly slept at night. He kept thinking, “How could this be? Will I leave this world just like this?” In great turmoil, he opened the Bible to read: “In my distress I called upon the Lord, And cried out to my God; He heard my voice from His temple, And my cry entered His ears” (2 Sam 22:7).

He also knelt down and prayed for over an hour, but he still could not find peace. Thinking about God’s will, he said to God, “I dare not go against Your will, but please add numbers to my years the same way You did for King Hezekiah. It is not that I don’t want to enjoy rest, but my children are still young, and I would feel indebted to them if I went to heaven now. Would you please let me serve a few more years?”

Insomnia-ridden, Ming Kai continued to pray through the silent night.

Why is it so painful?

Ming Kai simply could not accept the doctor’s “sentence.” He thought of seeking a second opinion at another hospital. His daughter, who studied at the School of Chinese Medicine, recommended a professor in her department who was a lung specialist. Ming Kai agreed to see this doctor on December 14 for an exam.

The doctor told him that the cancer cells had not only covered the entire right lung but had also spread to the left lung. Ming Kai had only two or three more months left to live. This doctor also urged him to be hospitalized.

On December 16, Ming Kai underwent an intrathoracic ultrasound examination, where a 120-cm-wide tube was inserted through his nose. At first, when the tube was inserted, Ming Kai could still pray, saying, “Help me, Lord!” But when the tube went through his trachea and pierced his right lung, fluid and blood that had clogged his air duct gushed out like water.

The doctors and nurses grabbed hold of him and told him to be brave and endure the pain. At this point, he was in such extreme pain that he couldn’t pray anymore. Every time the tube moved further inward, blood would shoot out. Regardless of how hard they tried, the nurses could not stop the blood from flowing.

After repeated pricks, cuts, and much vomiting, the twenty-minute exam finally passed. Ming Kai was almost completely paralyzed, lying in his own blood. It was about five o’clock by that time, and the doctors were getting ready to get off work, so they asked Ming Kai to return to his room on his own.

“It was December. The weather was very cold. With one hand holding my wounds and the other hand leaning against the wall, it took me one-and-a-half hours to walk the 500 meter distance back to my room,” said Ming Kai with a heavy voice.

After returning to his room, he vomited more blood and fluid and used up all the paper towels in his room. He could neither eat nor rest but could only moan in pain.

In extreme pain, Ming Kai prayed to God, “Lord, why is it so painful? Please take away the pain. Are you not a merciful Lord? Are you not the Shepherd?” At the same time, he felt ashamed at having lost sight of God in his suffering, when he had always encouraged others to have faith and trust in Him.

Later, Ming Kai’s daughter showed him the passage in Romans 8:26-27:

            Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Ming Kai couldn’t but examine himself: “In my weakness, my prayer is full of complaints and pleadings for health. I grieve the Holy Spirit, yet the Holy Spirit never complains about us but intercedes for us according to God’s will. Isn’t this God’s great love?”

That night, he continued to pray. About 30 minutes later, he heard the Holy Spirit speak kindly to him in his ears, “Ming Kai, Ming Kai, is it very painful? I know. But I tell you that the pain will be even greater.” Ming Kai thought, “He just comforted me, but why does He tell me that I will be in greater pain? Could I have heard it wrong?”

“Is your pain as great as Mine?”

After praying for about another hour, the Holy Spirit said, “Ming Kai, I know it’s very painful. But you won’t die. Is your pain as great as Mine?” When he heard that he would not die, his heart was very much consoled.

Ming Kai remembered how many believers had visited him, prayed for him, and comforted him during his stay at the hospital for more than a month. But when the Lord was nailed on the cross and in great agony, who comforted him? Not only was He alone, but He also endured scorn and ridicule.

            You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor… Reproach has broken my heart, And I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; And for comforters, but I found none. (Ps 69:19-21)

This thought made Ming Kai realize that he had no right to grumble.

The test results, which came out on December 20, confirmed that cancer had spread through his lungs. The doctor told Ming Kai that he had to undergo surgery immediately. He told the doctor that he was very afraid of pain, but his primary care doctor told him, “I believe your God will help you.” When Ming Kai heard the words of the doctor, who was not a believer, he cheerfully replied, “Then I’ll leave it all in your hands.” The doctor said, “Not in my hands, but in God’s hands.”

The surgery on December 22 lasted five hours. A 16-cm incision was made on his side, and two thirds of his lungs, along with two ribs, were removed.

During the critical seventy-two-hour interval after the surgery, five tubes fed a range of medications into his body. When the excruciating pain would deprive him of sleep, Ming Kai could only pray. He spent those seventy-two hours in repeated pain, prayer, and sleep. Because the Lord watched over him, he was able to pass through that agonizing time.

The following day was Sabbath. Ming Kai prayed with his daughter: “We usually only make requests in our prayers, but at this hour, I am repenting of my weaknesses and offering a prayer of thanksgiving.”

I ask for death, Lord!

As he gradually recovered, Ming Kai was able to wheel himself to visit others in the hospital. One day, he felt a sudden, sharp pain in his chest. His blood pressure dropped to 30 mm, and his pulse became only 6 or 7 a minute. The nurse immediately asked the doctor to take an X-ray.

They found that much blood and fluid had accumulated in his lungs and heart, so he was rushed to the operating room. The second surgery turned out to be even more painful than the first because he was physically weaker, having gone through two surgeries in ten days.

After dinner on January 8, 2000, Ming Kai felt very uncomfortable. A few church members happened to be visiting him. They felt his body and said, “Brother Wu, why are you so cold?” He still had his senses, but he couldn’t feel any body heat or blood pressure, and he was in great pain.

He took the hands of his mother, wife, children, and the many brothers and sister who were there and asked them all to pray for him. They prayed earnestly for him with love. But he could only pray to God saying, “It’s so painful, Lord! I can’t take it anymore! Please take me away!”

Then he asked himself, “Everyone is praying for me to live, but I’m praying to die. Can a Christian pray for death?” Utterly weak physically and mentally, as he was asking for death, he suddenly saw a dark, enormous figure. He knew in his heart that it was an evil presence.

He quickly cried out three times, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, away, Satan!” But the dark figure did not depart. Ming Kai held the hands of his family and gave his last words. He had forgotten God’s grace—how God saw him through those critical seventy-two hours and kept him company. Now, he only knew to seek death.

“When a man is at the verge of death, he is very weak indeed,” Ming Kai reminisces later.

Satan sought for me

Later, he felt that his soul left his body. Ming Kai described in detail his struggle with Satan as he was asking for death:

            My soul smiled and nodded at me, then turned to leave. At that moment, Satan also turned around and faced me. He smiled at me and beckoned me. I was very weak but still maintained my alertness. I was still praying. My soul floated upward, but Satan would not leave. Then, I saw a nurse approaching from the left, but there was no sound of footsteps. It turned out to be an angel. My soul was at the ceiling, and I could see my family and the believers praying. I also saw the battle between the angel and Satan. It was a magnificent scene. Satan lost the fight and disappeared through the wall.

The angel asked me to come down and told me, “The Lord Jesus is not letting you die yet.” I was very glad, and my soul returned to my body.

Ming Kai earnestly shares these words with all believers: “The devil is ruthless. He seeks for those that he can devour. Even if you are heading to heaven, he won’t let you go. He will tempt you even in your last breath. So whenever the Lord’s sheep are leaving this world, it is especially important that we watch and pray for them.” He also feels deeply about the apostle’s admonishment in 1 Peter 5:8-10:

            Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

After the angel left, the nurse came into the room to check his blood pressure and pulse, which were 130 mm and 70 mm, respectively. His temperature had also gradually returned to normal.

“Just as God had promised, I did not die.”

After this journey through the shadow of the valley of death, marked by extreme pain and anguish, Ming Kai deeply felt that the Lord’s staff and rod comforted him and guided him, so that he did not fear evil.

“As long as my breath remains, I will love the Lord with all my heart, with all my strength, and with all my soul. I will grasp each opportunity to work for the Lord in order to repay His grace. May all the glory, honor, and praise be given to the heavenly Father. May He also grant His blessings and peace to His sheep.

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Author: Wu Ming Kai