Chicago Sun-Times
...with Jesus, doctors and common sense

Mama Died Much Younger, So Why Should I Complain?

| 15 Comments | No TrackBacks

God bless you.

It's 3:45 a.m. Thursday morning and I am wide awake, sleepless as usual and

thinking of my death while listening to one of my favorite classical music recordings on

my Direct TV's satellite radio station.

It is the "Love scene" from Hector Berlioz' Romeo and Julliette symphonic opera.

Ever since I was diagnosed last March with end-stage congestive heart failure

(requiring a heart transplant), prostate cancer and a brain tumor that was quickly ruled

benign, I have had trouble sleeping at night partly because I am frequently awakened by

shortness of breath or some other discomfort associated with my illnesses and the dozen

different medications I take for them daily.

Still, the Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all


There were many times last spring I did not feel I would live out 2008. Much of my

suffering, I kept private. Like so many sufferers, there is only so much pity that we can

take. Especially if we are fighting feverishly to live as I am doing.

So many people hand out pity in the form of a compassionate death sentence. It's

like they have already given up on you and feel they had better get their expressions of

sadness and sorrow out of the way just in case I die in the next five minutes.

I have accepted the conclusion of many doctors that death, without a heart transplant

or an implanted heart pump, is a real probability for me within the next year. At the same

time, I have faith that God is in the process of healing me slowly for all the world to see.

There isn't a day that passes without me not just considering the inevitability of my

death but with me feeling the nearness of it, yet refusing to surrender to it.

But when I think of the fact that my mama, the late Sarah Lorraine Sanders Banks,

died at age 43, I know that I am a blessed man to be living at age 65. I also have outlived

my father, the late Rev. Anderson Douglass Banks, Sr., who died at age 63 and my

youngest sibling, a brother Hansel, who died at age 52.

Then, there were my twin infant sons that my wife Joyce gave birth to prematurely in

1974, the same year my father died. They did not survive the cradle. One was born dead.

the other died within a day.

And here I am 65 years old, seriously ill but not too sick where I still can't do my jobs

as a newspaper reporter and preacher. I just have to pace myself better, do more

advanced planning and minimize stress and strain while praying for my healing and taking

my medicines as prescribed.

Maybe it's best that God took our twin sons in the cradle before we could ever really

get to know them personally and love them tenderly and see parts of us in them as they

grew to open their eyes, cut their teeth, smile at us, say "mama" and "dada" for the first

time, crawl, take their first steps and attach themselves to our hearts, minds and souls

the way children do to their parents.

So God took them before they could imprint themselves upon us and make us

miss them more by dying later. They never wore a diaper, a shoe or used a pacifier, a

bottle or a toy that could remind us of them. Maybe, it was better they died that way even

though it still hurts us, my wife especially, to this day.

But my mother? She gave birth to 12 children, of which eight survived, and she was

pregnant with a 13th that died in her and set up blood poisoning that doomed her to a

slow, excruciatingly painful death while leaving eight children ranging from ages two to 19.

All my mama's surviving children have outlived her. If there ever was a time I argued

with the Lord and really got angry at Him, it was when He allowed my mama to die at age

43. She never lived long enough to see one child get married or to see one of her

eventual 16 grandchildren or to get treated to one dinner by one of her children.

I was 11 years old when she died. I had been preaching two years at that time and I

felt that I had a special relationship with God. I had had visions of conversations with

angels. I heard the voice of God Himself call me to preach one February Tuesday night

after He had awaken me from my sleep while we were living in a duplex as 2307 North

Oxford St., Indianapolis, Ind.

Surely, the Lord would grant me my prayer, heal my mama and let her live. I prayed

and cried, prayed and cried, prayed and cried, begging God to please spare my mama.

But He took her anyway.

Ever since then, I've learned to accept God's will as Jesus teaches us to pray that

God's kingdom come and that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

But what my mama's death has done ever since is temper me in my zest for life. Her

death at a young age gave me permanent perspective on life, its value and its uncertainty.

Her death gives me cause to pause whenever I start to feel sorry for myself that I am

battling so many sicknesses simultaneously.

At least I have lived long enough to see all three of my daughters graduate from

college and become grown. I've lived long enough to see, hug and kiss five grandchildren.

I've lived long enough to enjoy a loving wife for more than 40 years. I've lived long enough

to have my children to have me over for dinner and to take me out to dinner. I've lived

long enough to enjoy a great marriage and to grow old with my wife, whom I have taken

on vacations to Paris, New York, London, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Cancun, Munich,

Amsterdam, Toronto, Orlando, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Ft.

Lauderdale and Miami.

So if the Lord does choose to take me this year, I have not been cheated. I have

already enjoyed more things than either of my parents and any of my sisters and brothers

in terms of honors and travel and excitement and wonderment.

Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

My doctors continue to strongly urge me to let them implant a pacemaker and

defibrillator in me as a precaution against a heart attack for which I am a very likely

prospect. I have been considering it but don't feel I really, really need it. After all, it didn't

save Norm Van Lier and it didn't save Wilt Chamberlain. They were two of many who still

died of heart attacks despite having pacemaker-defibrillator devises implanted in them.

I appreciate your continued prayers and I'm hoping that you are profiting from this

blog in some way or another. Please be encouraged. Our heavenly father sees and He

cares and He who watches over Israel slumbers not nor sleep. The Lord is our keeper.

The Lord is the shade upon our right hand. The sun shall not smite us by day nor the

moon by night. The Lord shall preserve us from all evil. He shall preserves our souls. The

Lord shall preserve our going out and our coming in from this time forward and even

forever more.

God bless you.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL:


Pastor Banks,
You continue to be an inspiration. May the power of your belief continue to keep you and guide you. You are truly an example of walking in/by faith and God' amazing grace.
Continue to be Blessed.
Nancy Ellis

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank you, Nancy, for dropping by and inspiring me

once again. Your continued prayers help sustain and empower me. I pray to God

that He increases your faith so that your joys may be full.

Your faith and strenght through these enduring times, has helped me overcome the loss of a loved one. I truly understand now, what it takes to keep moving forward and wanting to do your best.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank God for the precious memories of our dearly

beloved who have transitioned ahead of us. The common gift of eternal life that is

part of our salvation means that we all will get to heaven at the same time. For once

locked into eternal life, we are then in a life that not only has no ending but no

beginning for eternal life in everlasting life that is unlimited in all directions. Eternal

life has always been with God and always shall be with God. It is the supreme

gift from the Giver who has no beginning or ending. What a reward for the

repentant sinner!!

You are not alone in the middle of the night when you cannot sleep. Many of us are awake for various reasons, many of us are in prayer, just thankful for another waking moment. Praise Him. I know you consult with your physicians as you consult with God, and you research your illnesses about as much as you study the Word. Please tell me why you won't consider the pacemaker/debrililator. I continue to pray for you and yours and appreciate your prayers for me.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Hi Gwen. It's always nice to hear from one of my very

first supporters who remains ever faithful. Thanks for your continued prayers and

attentive support. I have been considering the implantation of a combo pacemaker

and defibrillator. I just haven't decided to get one until I know more about it and

how it would spare my life. Obviously, it didn't save Norm, and he has his

implanted some five months ago. I'd like doctors to explain to me why it didn't save

Norm, who has been suffering from congestive heart failure like so many of us.

Perhaps a autopsy will shed more light on the matter.

God Bless you, and know that you are in my prayers sir. You sound like a very wonderful man, and people like me thank The Lord that you have been brought into our world, to help make it a better place.

God Bless.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank you, Candice, for your wonderful words of

comfort. Thank you for reading this blog and I hope it's not the last time you read it.

I need caring and sharing people like you to help inspire the sick and afflicted who

have lost their way and see no hope. Pray for us all. Please. God will bless you

real good for doing so.

God Bless you Rev. Banks
I pray you find comfort in knowing a loving God knows best. Your trials are just a test of your unwavering faith in God. You've never given up, and you've never given in to the pressures of this world. We are only on this side of the soil for a short time, and many do not make the most out of it, but I can say without a doubt, your living hasn't been in vain, nor is your suffering. God tested Job's faith, and he's also testing yours. Don't be discouraged by the afflictions of today, know God is the still in charge of your life. It's not over until God says its over. Wait on the Lord, be of good cheer, and he will continue directing your path. I know the pain gets unbearable, the nights are restless, but remember, Joy comes in the morning. Each new Morning you arise, and behold a brand new day is a testament of God's Grace and Mercy. Stay Strong and Steadfast, know God can do anything but FAIL.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Hallelujah! What a wonderful and thunderful email,

Shara. Spoken like a true, sanctified child of God. I felt the fire of the Holy Ghost

in your comment. And, yes, I do feel more encouraged to trust in and to wait on

the Lord. Yes, God knows best. And God also knows just how much we can bear.

I thank God that He keeps reaching back into the armada of the Redeemed and

brings out wonder weapons like you to shoot down doubt, despair, fear and

hopelessness which leaves us vulnerable to defeat. Thank you for letting God use

you to be a comfort and an encouragement. No, no, I'll not turn back. And as the

late Prof. Alex Bradford used to sing, "I'm to close to my journey's end to turn back

into a world of sin. I'm too close that I won't turn around. I promised the Lord that I

wouldn't turn around." I pray your strength and increased faith in God, Shara. You

are a mighty woman of faith, more precious than your weight in rubies and


God bless you Rev. Banks I used to see you at Rev. Hardy's church. My Mom loves to hear you sing and preach. May God bless you.

BANKS' RESPONSE: God bless you, Kim. Thanks for reading my blog and for

emailing your comment. Rev. Hardy still has the Good Friday services at

Cosmopolitan Community Church at 5249 and Wabash on April 10. I will be

preaching as usual. Hope to see you and your mom there. Preaching, praying and

praising are helping keep me alive.

Thank you for the effort and openheartedness you've been putting into this. It is a great boon to us who read it.

BANKS' RESPONSE: God bless you, Jon, for reading and supporting my blog

with your comment. Thanks.

Mr. Banks,
It's been a minute since I have had an opportunity to read your blog. However, I was led here by your heading, "Mama Died Much Younger, So Why Should I Complain?" I am in awe at your faithful spirit! In the midst of your illness, you still remain faithful unto God and His will for your life. You are a true inspiration and you have blessed my day today.

Thank you for words straight from your heart. I will keep you lifted in prayers and want you to know that through your blog, I have learned a bit about perserverance in the midst of the storms.

May God continue to bless you as only God can!

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thanks so much, Donna, for reading my blog and for

emailing such kind words of comfort and encouragement. Thanks, also, for your

continued prayers because I have been stripped down to God's will and I am

praying, in the name of Jesus, for God's healing will to be made manifest in me.

God's grace remains sufficient to supply all of our needs according to his riches in

glory and His strength continues to be made perfect in our weakness and

suffering. May the Good Lord bless and keep you real good, Donna.

I'm still praying for you. I still believe that YOU could be the miracle that we've been waiting to see. New Friendship members (in Robbins) are praying for you. We love you. We WISH you'd contact us and let us know when you feel like preaching. We promise to reach out and "pull your coat" and get you off before you go too tired or get too excited!

It sounds like you've accepted something that most of the rest of us cannot--your impending mortality. Yes, you've fought a good fight. Yes, you've kept the faith. But you have NOT finished your course! Stay the course.

Love and prayers
Jo Ann Jemison

BANKS' RESPONSE: Thank you so much Jo Ann Jemison for retaining a

thought of of me, for reading this blog and for emailing your comment. I pray that

all is well at New Friendship. We've shared many a wonderful worship together and

Pastor Benjamin Garrett and New Friendship have always been kind to me. God

bless you all. And, please, continue playing for me and I will pray for you, too.

Know that you are not alone. Know that there are many who appreciate you taking the time to share your story, and many who are rooting for you. I was so happy to see that you were able to see President Obama take office. I hope there is much more of the good in life that you will be able to see.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Luella, your prayers are welcomed and greatly

appreciated. Thanks for caring and sharing.

Hi Rev. Banks,

I want you to know that your courage, strength and trust in God is very inspirational to so many people. We are all still praying for God to turn the heart situation around and believing that He will do it.

I remember the first time your oldest grandaughter Lauren saw your picture by an article you had written when you covered the Bulls. There was a picture of the world famous Michael Jordan on the same page, but she immediately yelled "grandpa!" and pointed to your picture. That is golden. Thats what it's all about.

Be blessed,

Your son-in-law

BANKS' RESPONSE: Larry, you are the answer to many a Christian father's

prayer. Or even a sinner father' prayer. You love your lord, my daughter, your

children, your parents and other family members and friends. You are a hard

worker. You discipline your kids when they do wrong and reward them richly when

they do well. You are raising your kids in the church and it thrills me to see them

all singing or playing instruments in the church choir. Then you pray for your

father-in-law. I have yet to hear my daughter complain about you mistreating her

as so many daughters end up doing. And I assure you that you will bless you for

being a blessing to your family and leading your family to serve him. Kiss all my

grandkids for me. It's so wonderful when they appreciate their grandfather and I

am sure that you will not let them forget me or their grandmother or your parents.

Enjoy the laughter already in your house as much as you can because kids grow

up so quickly. Please continue to pray for me and I will do the same for you.

Hello Preacher, I'm up early because I keep gasping for breath with the hypertrophic cardiomyopathy... my legs end up swollen every night so I know what you're talking about. I definitely want to hear you preach and look forward to hearing you on Good Friday. We continually walk by faith and not by sight.

I was a huge fan of Norm. Norm, Jerry Sloan and Maurice Lucas are charter members on my "tough guy" team. I think Lucas single handedly won the '77 title for Portland. Norm was tough without being dirty like Ricky Sobers or Dennis Awtrey.

I've been talking of you, your writings and ministry for over 30 years and I stand in faith with you, touching and agreeing as I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, for your healing. That with long life God will satisfy you and that the best is yet to come.

I love you man of God.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Minister Turner, ain't God good? I know that's not good

English. But it's good truth. It means so much to have somebody like you going

through what you are going through just I am going through what I am going

through. It's just that simple. Maybe that's partly what is meant in the ol' saying

"misery loves company." Of course, we know that it depends upon a special kind

of company. Misery doesn't love just nay ol' company just for the sake of having

company because some company is not good for us. We should be careful not to

be surrounded by doubters, pouters and down-and-outers because they can

compromise my hope and weaken our faith with their persistent pessimism. I

prefer praying warriors with a fighting spirit and whp never get in anything except

for to win. So we should draw closer to winners and farther away from whinners.

Yes, Minister Turner, suffering isn't easy. Any to be honest, our kind of suffering

can be a lonely task even when we are in the midst of positive people. For nobody

else can share our aches but Jesus. Others can sympathize and empathize and

say kind words of encouragement. But there is no burden bearer like Jesus. In

fact, Minister Turner, and I'm sure you already know this, there is not a friend like

the lowly Jesus. No not one. No not one. None else can heal all our soul's

diseases. No not one. No not one. Jesus knows all about our struggles. He will

guide 'til the day is done. There's not a friend like the lowly Jesus. No not one. No

not one. We thank God for doctors and nurses and technicians and assorted

other specialists. But most of all, we thank God for Jesus. Moreover, I love to thank

Jesus for Jesus. Yes, I love to look His way and just say, "Thank you, Jesus!"

Amen and amen.

My prayer for you is for the strength to continue the good fight and to touch all the lives you touch. It is good to hear faith in the Lord and His Grace and Mercy spoken loudly.

I pray for ease from your pain and discomfort (and the small discomforts of a disease can test and try us more than the "big" symptoms!)and for your continued joy in living.

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, amen.

Thank you for bringing your prayer and faith into my heart.

Patti Witherspoon

BANKS' RESPONSE: Spoken like a true believer, Patti. Spoken like a true

soldier in the army of the Lord. Spoken with passion and piety and positive purpose

and I want to thank you for this from the bottom of my heart. Jesus is real to us,

Patti. He's real in our souls and thoughout our bodies and throughout our lives.

He's real and I wish more of the world could feel the realness of Jesus in their own

souls and lives. He is willing to share Himself with them. I says, "Behold I stand at

the door and knock. If any man hear my voice and open the door (of his life), I'll

come in and sup with him and he with Me."

I've read most of your blog postings, but this is the first time I've felt moved to write. Your comments about your twins really moved me, as I lost a brother who was born prematurely -- he even had a name -- Stephen. He died two years before I was born, and I've always felt blessed to be here, and my hope is that we will be reunited in heaven and I can hold him and tell him I love him.

May you continue to be blessed, Rev. Banks, and please do consider the treatment the doctors are recommending -- it could be God's way of sending you a boat, a helicopter and a life raft! (Old joke, I hope you know the one I'm talking about.)

BANKS' RESPONSE: You are so right, Sharon. That's why I make use of

doctors and medicine because the bible says that every good and perfect gift

comes from above, down from the Lord of lights in whom there is no variableness

neither shadow of turning, Yes, God sends us boats. But prayer partners like

yourself are more the yachts to me. And collectively, you become oceanliners.

God bless.

Rev. Banks,

Thank you again for another inspirational article. In the pits of depression, I wrote you back in January when my mom died and your response lifted me so much. It was so kind of you to take time to extend your encouragement to me. I'll never forget your thoughtfulness.

I believe that God sends angels to help the world get through its madness. You are truly a precious angel of God and the world is a better place because you are here. Think of the thousands of people that you inspire and minister to! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and God bless and keep you.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Jami, I'm glad that you felt of the passion and the

power not just of my prayers but the prayers of no many others connected to and

through this blog. Thank you so much for your kind words and we continue to

hold your name and your needs up to God in prayer.

Leave a comment

Lacy J. Banks

Lacy J. Banks, 67, has been a Sun-Times sportswriter/columnist for 38 years and a Baptist preacher for 58 years. He has preached at more than 100 different churches in the Chicago area. A native of Lyon, Miss., Banks graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in French and he served three years in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Naval officer. Lacy and wife, Joyce, have been married 42 years and have three daughters and five grandchildren. Among beats Banks has covered for the Sun-Times are the Bulls, Fire, defunct Sting, Blackhawks, Wolves, Cubs, defunct Hussle, Rush, Sky, college football and basketball and pro boxing.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lacy Banks published on February 26, 2009 3:22 AM.

I Know I'm Dying, Children, But I Ain't Dead Yet...... was the previous entry in this blog.

Imagine Yourself Having To Say Farewell To Your Heart.....Great God! is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.