On rare occasions, I wait to share news. Please know that I’ve been carrying a heavy heart for September and am asking you to consider praying for God’s grace and mercy for my Father-In-Law (85) who had back surgery a few weeks ago. Barely able to walk before it, and now were not convinced he’ll have the will to relearn.
As we age, we live long enough to see things that we never saw before. This means we see joy and we see pain. And we see them in many splendid variations.
Additionally, we see how others handle life’s events. A similar situation can happen to two people and their acceptance and handling of it is the opposite.
One might see dread, the other might see grace.
There are no one-size-fits-all answers to every life challenge.
There are choices we all have to make. And sometimes we might find ourselves in this scenario:
It’s a test we’d all like to pass, but none of us would ever want to take it.
The following story reminds me of this…
Good friend David Balentine sent an update from his friend, Laura, who’s been battling cancer for three long years. Just when you think you can’t go on, life piles one more seemingly unbearable thing in your path. And yet, Laura perseveres. Here she is, in her own words:
I am sad to report that yesterday my sweet mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer. At this point, we don’t have any further information. They will spend the next few weeks meeting with doctors, receiving more tests, and learning her treatment plan. In the meanwhile, I would ask that you please pray for wisdom for the doctors and strength for Bill and Judy (Bill, my father-in-law). Please also pray for my precious sister-in-law, Elise, who just had a baby a month ago and now is facing this. And finally, for my wonderful husband, Bill. I can’t imagine living with the reality of having a wife with metastatic breast cancer and a mother that has just been diagnosed. Please pray that the doctors will be given wisdom; that Judy’s cancer will be small and treatable; and for the peace of God to surround the entire family.
Today when I took Gracy to ballet, I ran into my friend Betsy that I hadn’t seen for a while. Betsy and I were talking and she said, “How’s Bill?” I told her about his mother’s cancer. I told her we would have to tell the children tonight. I told her about my new treatments in Nashville and the toll that takes on him. I told her about his job. I told her about how well he had done in his MBA program — all of his hard work and dedication. And I told her that the only thing he feels like he has to show from it right now is an added financial burden because the loan pay back started this month. And after I told her all of this, I felt nothing but overwhelmed.
I got in my car, drove to a spot in the ‘A’ parking lot of Briarwood that looks out over the mountains, and just began talking to God. I told God that I didn’t like it. I told God that I didn’t understand it. I told God that it was overwhelming, and hard, and sad and difficult. And then I told God, “But you give, and you take away and blessed be your name.” And then I praised God because although I don’t know how, and I don’t see why, I know that he has us in this place and that it is a good place. I know that He loves us so much. I know that the purpose of the fire is refinement. And I know He will give us the grace and mercy to face each day.
For me, that has probably been the best part of my cancer journey. It has brought my faith to a place that has transformed the ‘hard knocks’ of life into ‘soft bumps’. It’s not easy, it’s not fun, it’s not what I would choose, but I know that wherever I am, it is in that very place that He will meet me. And I praise him for that.
When I finished praying, I turned on the radio and Steve Brown was speaking. He read a letter from a girl that is going through some tough times. The letter read, “God doesn’t love me like I want to be loved, but He loves me well. And I hate it.” Steve Brown laughed, and I laughed too, because I understand that sentiment completely. However, I would have to say, God doesn’t love me like I want to be loved, but He loves me well, and I love it. I love the hope. I love the peace. I love the growth. I love the closeness. I love the place where I am. I love the journey God has me on. I am ready to be healed, but I wouldn’t trade these past 3 ½ years for anything. I would do them all over again to reap the rewards of fellowship with the Father. But it has taken me 3 ½ years to get to that place. It has taken a lot of tears, a lot of prayer, a lot of sadness, and a lot of hurt to see the deeply buried treasures.
But now, as they are starting to appear, wow!, what utter richness and beauty.
Judy has been walking with the Lord longer than I have. Her faith is incredible. Her belief is solid. And I know she will find this road filled with treasure. However, the diagnosis is new. The cut is deep. The pain is real. The questions are unanswered. So please pray that God will pour out his blessings on her, Bill, Elise, and Bill. Pray specifically that God’s glory will be greater than all of our pain. And pray that God will wrap his loving arms around this amazing family that loves me as if I were born into it.
For His Glory,
How strong is your Faith? How deep is your Hope? Three weeks ago we read Laura’s story about Lung cancer and surrender. If you are looking for strength, or simply want to see it in action, read this update, directly from Laura:
1 Kings 18:41-45
And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.” So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel. And he bowed himself down on the earth and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again”, seven times. And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.” And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.
This morning I am in Nashville preparing to go downtown and receive my first TDM-1 infusion. I am filled with mixed emotions. At 10:45 I will receive a drug I did not seek because I did not even know about it; in a hospital that I did not know existed; from a doctor that I had never heard of until two or three weeks ago. It is extremely evident to me that the Lord has brought me to this place. I have no doubt that this is the Lord’s plan for me. And so the verse that keeps running through my head is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
And yet, part of me enters into this new phase of treatment with a guarded heart. I have been seeking God’s mercy for healing for over three years now and thus far His answer has always been, “Not yet.” And that’s what reminded me of the passage from 1 Kings above.
This passage does not tell us much about the servant, but I feel like I can relate to him. If he was Elijah’s servant, he had seen first hand the greatness of the Lord. There was no doubt in his mind that Elijah was God’s prophet. I am sure he trusted Elijah. He probably found joy in obeying Elijah. But don’t you know that on that sixth time of going up the mountain and looking toward the sea that the servant had to be getting a little tired? I am sure he was frustrated. I am sure he was starting to doubt. I am sure he was wondering why Elijah’s timing was so off. It is easy to become tired and frustrated when you are continually looking for something that you cannot find.
But then, on the seventh time, when the servant climbed to the top of the mountain, there it was. Not a storm. Not great darkness. Not a multitude of clouds. No lightening. No thunder. Just a little could the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea. And from that tiny cloud came great rain.
Today, in this treatment, by God’s grace, I see a little cloud the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea. Please pray that God will choose to transform it into great rains of His mercy.
For His Glory,
So here’s my small challenge, “Can we take God’s Grace to work today, does it belong there?”