“Why Not Me?”

Dustin Gilmer 1990-2020

If you know me personally, then you already know that my wife and I have been dealing with the loss of our son, Dustin L. Gilmer. He was killed when his van struck a concrete barrier dividing the interstate on which he was driving. This happened just days before his thirtieth birthday. We received a call at around 4:30 am on Friday August 7th, informing us about what had happened just a few hours earlier that morning.

I am unable to explain the shock and overwhelming pain that came over us during that moment. Never in my almost 49 years of life have I ever experienced such a total loss of control of myself. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. I could not even try to stop what was happening and felt completely helpless and destroyed.

It has been about six weeks now since this happened. During that six weeks my family and I had to do what everyone does who loses one they love. We had to identify my son’s body. Then we had to plan a funeral. Then we had to deal with his estate. In the middle of all that, we tried to process and cope with the reality that he was gone and that this in fact was happening in our family.

August 13, 1990

I feel that I can say that things were and are, even in his death, a bit different for us in that Dustin was born with a disability that caused him to live his life in a wheelchair. He was born with a disability which caused him to break bones really easily. In fact, when he was born the doctor informed me and his mother that he was not expected to live more than five years.

Pam, my wife, and I always felt that there was a good possibility that we would outlive Dustin due to his disability. Even though he was able to fight through the challenges of his disability and earn a great deal of independence, we believed that over time it would catch up to him and begin to take a toll. I prayed about that a lot. I guess for the past thirty years we lived with and dealt with his disability in a way that it simply became a part of who we are, and I guess became normal for us.

I was not a Christian when Dustin was born. However, I did talk to God every now and then. You know, the usual cry out to God when things are really bad. From the day he was born until he, my wife and I all gave our lives to Christ.

Since Dustin was born, my thoughts and payers were everything from why this disability happened to him, my son to “Lord if I could only trade places with him”. I went through just about every emotion I could go through during the first ten or twelve years of his life. Trying to figure out how to cope with my son and his suffering with this disability. During those years and really his entire life, we all learned how to function and be a family who not only suffered together because of the disability, but also to be able to move away from needing answers to our “why us” questions.

Over the years of Dustin’s life, we all learned many valuable lessons about how God works and how he does not work. We were able to grow as Christians and I believe that because of that, we were able to accept that God had allowed this disability and to be able to stand in the fact that God does not make mistakes. Therefore, we began to live in a place that helped us fall in line with what God was doing with Dustin’s life.

So when that day came when I received that phone call at 4:30 am informing me that Dustin was killed in a car wreck, in the middle of that devastating moment, I did not feel the need to ask, “why me?” or “why my son?”.

In the days and weeks after his death, my wife and I got in our truck and drove. I mean we drove for about four days. During that time, I could not stop thinking about all the godly men in the bible that had experienced tragedy. I thought about people like Abraham who was willing to kill his own son trusting that it was God’s plan. I also thought a lot about David who lost his son due to consequences of his own sinful behavior. Yet when God said “no” to his prayer that his son would live, David simply ended his fasting and prayer and continued serving God.

I mostly thought about Job. I continued to think about how much loss he had endured and remained faithful to God. He lost all of his children. Even though he was blessed with more children, I have no doubt that the loss of the first children made a lasting mark. There were plenty more people in the scriptures that I thought about who had suffered loss or tragedy. Yet they continued to be godly people.

I am simply sharing all of this because I think it was important for me to be reminded of the lesson that God had been teaching me for the past thirty years. It was as if God was reminding me by saying, “why not you?”. This is the lesson that was constant throughout the thirty years of my son’s life.

If we think about all the people throughout the history of mankind who were godly people and suffered. We will find many that were used greatly by God for His glory and for His will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven! After all, Hebrews chapter 11 lists many of the “hall of famers” of the Bible. I think it is safe to say that none who were listed there lived without suffering.

Dustin, my son, would be the first to tell anyone that life is not fair. He would be the first one to tell anyone that bad things happen to good people and bad people. And he would also be the first one to tell anyone that in the middle of it all, God is doing something.

You know, 2020 has turned out to be a pretty crappy year for everyone. Like everyone else, I began the year paying a little bit of attention to the impeachment proceedings and wishing that it would be over, and we could move on to talking about something else.

Well, be careful what you wish for. I soon found myself after about three months of adjusting to COVID 19 precautions wishing we could go back and talk about the impeachment hearings! It was not long that I found myself, like everyone else, being overly stressed about the current events going on in the world.

I remember thinking about how I just started a new preaching position at our church and was excited about getting the church to grow and be successful about making disciples for Christ. It all seemed to come to an immediate stand still and I began to have the attitude of how it was not fair or right that our church was being affected like this. Not to mention the affects that it has had on me personally, just as it has on everyone else in the world.

Looking back now, I cannot help but continue to hear the words in my mind, “why not me?”. I think about all the generations over the ages who had to struggle and deal with world changing events. Wars, sicknesses, disasters, political and social issues, loss, and the like. I keep hearing, “why not me?”.

There were many generations since Adam and Eve that experienced a sudden and drastic change in the world which affected their lifestyles and comfort levels. So, the question continues, “why not me?”. Why would I be exempt from any kind of suffering or challenge? I live in the same world as they did. The same world that is contaminated by wickedness and sin since Adam and Eve! Who am I?

So, I must continue to ask myself, “why not me?”. Why shouldn’t I expect to take my turn at suffering and pain? This is the way life has been since the fall of man in the garden! This is the world we live in. God does not make mistakes and He allows suffering at times. So, “why not me?”.

God has brought many great things out of pain and suffering. And all of those things end in God being glorified and many have turned to Him for His saving grace because of the suffering that happens in the lives of His disciples. For the past thirty years, our family bible verse has been Romans 8:18.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

So, I sit and think about the possibilities that God will use my suffering for His glory and for the sake of someone else’s soul! So, “why NOT me?”!

A final thought. I would not want this blog post to be taken as some kind of sad situation entirely. Certainly, it has its share of sadness, maybe m

Dustin L. Gilmer

ore than its share. However, if you knew my son at all, you would know that even though he lived in his wheelchair, he looked at the opportunities for success in his life and always asked the question, “why NOT me?”.

He lived his life well and also died well. I will forever be proud of my son and will forever give God the glory for the blessing that Dustin was for the last thirty years and will continue to always be.To God be the Glory for ever and ever! Amen!

Life is Short- You Do Not Have to Die!

Life happens. Not only does it happen, but it happens really fast. One day we are making plans for the future for ourselves as well as our families. It seems that we are keeping up with the pace of life. That is, as long as everything goes according to plan.

We all have dreams, plans, and maybe aspirations. Some have extreme motivation to chase after them, others not so much. Either way, when we get momentum behind our life’s plan, we tend to believe that life is good and we are on our way to meet our goals and desires for our lives.

Who we are and who we become in life greatly depend on the things that happen to us and around us. Also, the consequences of decisions and choices along life’s path. Let’s not forget that the people we choose to be around also affect who we are and become. Finally, our beliefs and worldview impact the course of life.

Generally, we live our lives according to the plans that we make and sometimes make adjustments along the way. Some are better at this than others. When life is playing out as we have planned, we say “Life is good”, or even “God is good”. Yet when these plans derail or seem to change against our will, we struggle to adjust. We tend to panic, stress, or even give up on the plan.

The fact is, even though we all have free will to make choices in this life, there are some things to which we have no say. Many people like to say, “no one has to do anything but pay taxes and die.”. I would disagree with that, no one really has to pay taxes. We have the freedom to choose not to pay and suffer the consequences. However, being born and dying are in fact the two things that no one can choose.

Really, only being born is what we do not have choice in. Many have chosen to take their own life. In that regard, I guess that dying would be a choice, although not usually an option for people. The reality of it all is, people generally do not get to know how many days will be given them, only God knows some things.

“Now listen, you who say,  “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “if it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”                                 James 4:13-15

It is real easy to get caught up in living life and fail to recognize the value of it. People have been living in this world for thousands of years. Each of them living the life that was theirs. All of us have been given life by the creator. God is the one who created life and breathed breath into man. Living our lives without acknowledging Him as Lord is foolish!

People these days generally live no more than 100 years. Most live to be in their 70’s or 80’s. Even though that seems like a long time on the calendar, it is not much time at all in the grand scheme of things. The bigger point here is that on one is promised another day. Life happens.

It is important that we all look at what is the most important thing. That is, what goes on beyond this life. What the Christian believes is that there is eternal life. A choice is to be made. Will that time be spent in the presence of God? Or, will that time be spent separated from God forever? The time that goes on after life in this world is eternal and will not change.

For those who do not believe in life after death, well then it is important to make good use of the time you have in this life. It does not change the fact that life is short. It does not change the fact that death can come at any time. Either way, whatever the belief is, it seem foolish for a person to ignore the fact that death can come at any time.

I am not sharing this to scare anyone or to be a gloom and doom kind of person. I am sharing this because it is important that people acknowledge that life is short and that we are not promised tomorrow. Maybe it will help us to slow down and notice what we are missing.Maybe it will help us to get off our hind parts and start living life the way God intended it to be lived! Either way, the opportunity to have confidence in the eternity that happens after this life is over is there.

Yes, the gospel. It is the most important, most urgent piece of information in existence. The message that all people have fallen short of God’s glory and need a savior to pay the debt owed to this Holy God. That message that says that Jesus is that Savior and anyone who believes that it is true can be with God for eternity!

“”Therefore let all Israel be assured of this; God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off- for all whom the Lord our God will call.””

– Acts 2:36-39

The bottom line is this; Life is short! You or I, or even all of us may not be given another breath. Are you confident? Are you confident in what you believe about life after a person is dead? If you believe that there is not life after death, are you positive? And, if you believe like I do, the Christian belief, that there is life after we die and there is a choice to make. Then I would ask you, are you sure that if this be your last day to live in this world, would you spend the rest of eternity in the presence of God or will it be spent for ever separated from God?

Whatever pictures or movies can be displayed about what Hell will be like, I will say that I do not pretend to know any more than what scripture describes about it. However, I will say that the worst thing about Hell is that God is not there, and it is a permanent situation!

Life is short ya’ll!

Dialysis and Faith

After receiving a request from my father to write a short article about dialysis and faith and how they both affect those dealing with kidney disease. 


Me and my dad, Bernie Gilmer

He is writing a book about dialysis and wanted the perspective from a Christian Minister on these topics as it pertains to dialysis and faith. a response to this subject, I was able to share a few thoughts.

My prayer is that this will be helpful to anyone who is facing dialysis or has a loved one facing dialysis.

How dialysis can affect one’s spiritual life.

As a Christian man and a Preacher in the Christian church, I have been alongside many who were facing the end of life. Some because of Illnesses that were known about well in advance and some that were sudden and unexpected. Either way each comes with its own difficulty as well as tough decisions. We all live in this World with the general scents that the average life span is 80 – 90 years. When it is a bit shorter than that. Life coming to an end is something that most people generally are uncomfortable with and therefore seem to tuck it away in the back corner of their mind. By doing so, we have been created this false understanding that we have plenty of time to deal with it later. Any person who is in their right mind would agree that none of us will live forever yet many days we all live like our lives will never end. Because of this many who experience a sudden incident that shortens their life will go through the process of dealing with what we have put in the back of our minds in a short amount of time. This can be very stressful for the individual as well as the family. Just recently I was informed of a Preacher at a nearby church who was in his late 50’s who suddenly passed of a heart attack. Dealing with those kinds of events can be shocking and traumatic as would be expected. But when a person is informed of a life ending sickness that can be treated but not healed, well that’s something a little different. Yes, both situations are shocking and traumatic for the individual as well as loved ones. But there is something very different about receiving any type of time limit on a person’s life. When a doctor informs a person of something such as kidney disease and the road to come, the reality of limited time inevitably sets in. Suddenly that which was hidden away in the back of the mind is forced to the front and demands to be dealt with. There definitely is something different about knowing and waiting for the inevitable.

For the person who has a relationship with God and has understood the arrangement that God has put in place so that anyone who chooses could have life after we leave this World, well I won’t say that it would make things less shocking or traumatic but I will say that there can be hope and peace in the middle of it all. Many who trust God and believe His Word will know that God has promised to never leave us and that we can rely on His Spirit to give us the courage and strength to do whatever we need to do in this life. There are many difficult things that happen during a person’s life. If a person has been living life as a believer well this situation, although is quite real and seriously permanent, should be no different than any other challenge that God has led the believer through during life. So, to put it plain, everyone will come to the end of life but not everyone will have hope and peace through it.


How to Cope

There are many people, professionals and non-professionals, who can advise a person how to cope with dialysis or any other end of life experience. I personally will offer advice from a Christian Pastor’s perspective.

As like anything else in the Christian life, prayer and fellowship with God is the key to living with dialysis. Of course, seeking out friends and loved ones to share thoughts and desires will always be helpful. Human beings were created to need other human beings. It is always helpful to seek others who are living through the same situations. Many people who are dealing with dialysis can help each other along the way. It is much easier to talk with others who understand and have been experiencing what the struggles are with being on dialysis.

I will say to the person who is a Christian, everything that happens to us is another chapter in the testimony of our lives. We are instructed by Jesus Himself to go into the World and make disciples. Everything we are about and everything we believe points to helping others to get to know God. Sure, not everyone on dialysis is a believer but that is exactly the reason that it is important to allow God to use you even during this time in life.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 talks about how there is a time for everything. This part of God’s Word talks about the fact that there is a season for everything. And as we see in verse 2 it tells us that there is a time to be born and a time to die. So, what is happening to us as we come to the end of life is not outside the plan that God has laid out for each of us. It has always been God’s plan that we spend eternity with Him. Living in this World in these bodies has always been a temporary situation. We must trust that this World is not our true home and that our Father in heaven has a place prepared for each of us.


Hope in the middle of Suffering, Dialysis without God.

As was stated before, hope comes from believing that no matter how difficult, stressful, or fearful a situation becomes we believe that God will have His way. Many throughout the history of man have suffered in many ways. Some suffering comes due to our own choices. Other suffering comes due to choices of others. And frankly, a lot of suffering happens just because we live in a World that has been contaminated by sin since Adam and Eve. Therefore, there is sickness in our World today. So, the question really comes down to this; how is a person going to live through this part of life?

The answer to this question will mean the difference in living with dialysis with hope and peace or pain, suffering, and misery.

The choice is this, we either believe that Jesus is the Christ who God sent to live in this World for the sole purpose of being crucified to pay for our sins, or you do not believe that. That’s not all, once a person decides whether that is true, a response is necessary. We read in Acts.2:37-39 where Peter made this clear to all the people in Jerusalem. After telling them this, they then replied in verse 37, “what shall we do?”. They believed this about Jesus and responded. So, if a person believes this about Jesus, the same question should be asked, “what shall we do?” To that question I will point out Peter’s answer in verse 38, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” You see, without repentance, there is no forgiveness. Without forgiveness, there is no hope of eternal life with God. And without hope there will only be pain, suffering, and misery now and for eternity.

presence of God living in peace and Holiness or will it be at a place called Hell where God is not and no chance of ever hearing from Him again?


Refusing treatment, is it selfish? Are there spiritual consequences? What does the Bible say?

There are many questions that we all ponder over that we really do not have the answer for. There are some things that only God knows. So, when it comes to the decision of whether to be on dialysis or not, well there really is not a cut and dry answer that would apply to everyone. What I do know is that there is nothing in scripture that specifically forbids a person to refuse dialysis or any other medical treatment. In fact, I would go so far as to say that God has answered many prayers by way of the use of the skills of Doctors and Nurses and the like. We must remember that God is greater than anything and everything in existence. God also know the hearts of each man, women, and child. I personally do not believe that a person who willingly takes his or her own life is something that God intends for us to condone. Although, each situation in people’s lives are unique. Each person dealing with dialysis has different variables contributing to the thoughts and circumstances that would lead a person to consider receiving or not receiving the treatment. In fact, I believe that the comparison of refusing dialysis to committing suicide would be not only an inaccurate comparison but would contribute to adding even more undue stress and anxiety to the decision-making process.

My advice as a Christian Pastor to the believer would be to make sure that all decisions are made prayerfully. Honestly consider what God is doing with you and your life. What might be His plan in all of this. Prayerfully consider loved ones and others. Ask God to lead you and give you peace about each step along the way. If in fact a person is a believer, then God’s will be done will be the goal.

The bottom line when it comes to deciding to receive dialysis or not to receive it, I believe it is no different that deciding to turn off life support for a person who had already made decisions about the quality of life he or she desired. I do not believe that God would look upon a person’s decision to refuse or stop treatment as sinful. I personally believe that for the person who is a Christian, what God is looking for is if the person brings glory to God as they go down the road of being on dialysis or not. For the person who does not believe in God or chooses not to receive the salvation extended to them through faith in Jesus as the Christ, well, this decision would seem to be a little easier or less stressful.

Once again, we can see in Ecclesiastes that God had ordained a time for everything. For those of us who are believers, although we may have struggles and suffering during life in this World, there is a promise of eternal peace that we can look forward to.  So, for those on dialysis as well as the rest of us, let’s live life to the fullest until there is no more life to live here in this World.

Archie L. Gilmer