The Stool is Kicked Out
Yesterday I got my biopsy results. My wife and I had prayed and prayed. The closer we got to the appointment, the more urgently we prayed. We prayed in the car. We prayed all the way into the building. Out loud. Must have seemed a little weird to the people we were walking through. Prayed in the elevator. Prayed in the waiting room. Prayed desperately in the appointment room. "God don't let them find it to be malignent cancer."
And it was.
It felt like our last medical hope was kicked out from under us just like that. The tumor on my kidney is 6 inches across. No wonder I'm almost always feeling bloated and can't eat much.
Despair really overwhelmed us. Our worst fears gripped us and we wept and wept. Just sat and cried. How can it be that every time we look for an answer the situation turns incredibly worse? How can it be that every time we look to God to bail us out here, He turns the tide against us? How can it be that our last medical hope - physical hope is now gone? The worst case scenerio. Renal (kidney) cancer. A really big one. And spreading to the liver and lungs. Now confirmed.
How do you tell your children? When their young tender hearts have been praying that God would take away the cancer? When they have prayed with you many times each day with all the faith they could muster? We had to look them in they eyes and tell them of the results. No one should ever have to do that! It's the hardest thing in the world! And it hurt so bad to have to do it.
With my family in absolute despair around me, my strength began to fail. Up till now, I had been fighting for peace. Fighting for joy. Fighting for strength. Fighting for hope. And I could feel the battle turning. How can a man be strong for his family as they desapair around him? What does he say to console them? When the stool gets kicked out from under him?
It all began to slip away and I began to think of Job. You know the guy from the Bible who had everything taken away by God. Oldest story in the book. God allows then enemy to take away all that Job has to test him. And Job mourns and calls out to God in anguish.
The self-pity began creep in and my strength of faith began to show signs of cracking. My family could see it and it did nothing to help them.
But then the comparison didn't fit. Remember Job. There was at least one very different thing about my situation from Job's. And the difference was a HUGE one!
Job was surrounded by accusing friends who did nothing to support him. They tore him down. Even his wife encouraged him to curse God and die. Job's friends worked systematically through his life to erode his faith in God and his hope.
But as the evening came, some friends and family came. And some called. And some prayed. And some listened to us cry out shamefully. But they didn't judge. And they didn't despair. Some brought flowers. Some brought snacks. Some brought words of encouragement. Some brought appetite (thanks bro). All of them brought us such encouragement!
God uses His people so powerfully! It's amazing! They really are His hands and feet and voice! They really are an extension of Himself! Literally.
My wife and I pondered yesterday the story of Elijah and the the showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Where Elijah offers to the people a chance to find out which god is really God - Baal or God. After giving them plenty of time to see if they could get Baal to light a fire under his sacrifice, Elijah orders that the sacrifice to God be doused with water. Several times. And that a big trench be dug around it to hold lots of water. Let there be no doubt that this was going to take a extremely HUGE miracle. And God sends fire to consume the entire sacrifice. WHOOOMP!
Why did Elijah (and God) want a bigger demonstration? Because it brought greater glory to God! It was that much more unbelievablely great! It was that much more awe-inspiring! It will be told with wider eyes and louder voices. It will be told for that much longer and be told that much more. To God be the glory!
Maybe that's what He's doing in me. Maybe He wants to push the envelope a little more. Maybe trust in God isn't really trust in God until that's all you're holding on to.
I don't know what God's purposes are in this. But the stool has been kicked out. My friends have supported my faith at just the time I needed them. I'm still believing that God has a purpose. And my family has survived despair.
As small sign of encouragement, I had a half-decent night's sleep - first one in a long time. Thank you God! Today I will look to God for strength and find it. Each of my family will too. I'm humbled and the tears flow freely, but not in despair.
Life is an adventure, a journey we travel. And God walks it with us - hand in hand if we let Him. Guiding, shaping, and molding us through the circumstances. I seek to journey more intentionally here.
Thursday, June 30, 2005
The Stool is Kicked Out