Friday, December 18, 2015

When you are too tired to take another step

In January my husband and I sat in the car in the driveway before my husband met with his oncologist from San Antonio. We had just returned from California where our 2 week vacation was extended by a week because my husband ended up getting diagnosed with cancer. In the car that morning, my husband prayed "God whatever the outcome you are good and you are still God." That afternoon, I drove home alone as the oncologist ordered that my husband be admitted right away in order to start chemotherapy. Not the outcome we wanted, but God was still good. 12 months later there have been many times we have prayed that same prayer.

But the truth is although God has been good during the entire 12 months and although we never doubted His love or that fact that He was in control of the situation, there have been days when we have been tired and drained and depleted. There were some times that my feet crumbled and I fell to the floor too weak to stand, too weak to walk, too weak to take another step. Because cancer is the most painful disease. It robs a person of so many things. It robs a person of the ability to plan their future. It robs a person of their finances. It forces a person to endure painful and lengthy chemo treatments. It hurts.

Even now as we enter the second phase of Mel's treatment, the exhaustion continues because I do know that sometimes God lets the storm clouds linger for more time than we would like. I do know that sometimes God doesn't command the mountain to move rather He makes us climb it. I do know that sometimes we are forced to endure the situation longer than we hoped. And that at times no matter how hard we pray, the rain doesn't stop pounding and the waves don't stop crashing around us.

And while He is still good during it all and is still in control, it hurts and a person can feel too tired to take another step. There have been times I have been tired of crying, tired of hurting, tired of the relentless pain that we were enduring. There have been times I have been so tired of the situation that my knees buckled, my feet grew worthless and I felt like I couldn't move one more step. Because cancer hurts. It hurts when it is your family that needs the healing miracle. It hurts when it is your family that needs the daily financial provision. It hurts when it is your family that needs the strength to take one more step. It hurts when it is your family that needs the comfort to endure the pain. It hurts when it is your family that has so many needs.

Trust is more than a word. It is an action. We throw that word around so easily and at times we use it to judge others. When a person discusses how difficult the road is that they are walking, at times we think (or even say) "well if you just trusted God a little more." It is so easy to throw that word around when everything is going great. But when that word becomes an action things change. When a person discusses how difficult the road is and when they vocalize how tired they are it doesn't signify a lack of trust. Every day that we took another step it was us trusting God. Cancer has been the brutal trial of our life and I have wanted every day to go back to the way life was before but that isn't an indication of me lacking trust in God because I did take another step. Every single day we have to trust that God would financially make a way and I have wished that our home was two-incomes or that mine was significantly higher so that we didn't have to depend on God for those finances, but that isn't an indication of me not trusting God because I continued to praise Him with only five dollars in our account. Every time my kids asked me why their daddy was sick, it hurt my heart and I wondered the same. But that is not an indication of not trusting God, nor is it an indication of not trusting God when I have hated seeing my husband hooked up to chemotherapy. We have trusted God every single step and along the way.

But there have been days where I have felt too weak to take another step. There have been days where the tears have blinded the path. There have been days that the pain of seeing my husband in a hospital room has forced me to my knees. There have been days where the finish line has seemed so far ahead and rather than running or even walking towards it I have felt myself crawling at the slowest pace. It wasn't that I didn't trust that God wasn't in control. And it wasn't that I didn't believe that one day this season would pass. It was because I was tired.

And it is during those times that more than words a person's prayers matter. Saying we will pray for a person is not the same as praying for a person. And when we see someone hurting we need to fight for them in our prayers. We need to go to battle for them in our prayers. We need to intercede and declare comfort, strength and endurance over their life. Because there are times when the person has been in the storm and has been climbing the mountain for so long and they are depleted. They are tired. They are weary. They haven't stopped declaring of God's goodness but the rain has pounded them for some time. They haven't stopped praising God but the storm has been so strong. They haven't stopped trusting in God but that mountain has been so tall. And they are tired. And they need your prayers to get them one more step. They are the ones running the race, but our prayers are what is helping them get to the finish line. Our prayers are fighting off the lies that Satan would like to throw their way. Our prayers are giving them that strength to pick themselves off the floor, dust off their bruised knees and take one more step towards the finish line. And our prayers are needed every step of the way.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

After the diagnosis: Experiencing peace in the midst of the storm

December 30th....A day that started like the 363 days that came before it that year. We were on vacation. My husband had not been feeling well. I was mad at him that he didn't go to the doctor before we left for vacation. We thought he had pneumonia. Yet by the time the day came to a close we heard the words no one wants to hear "cancer." Every detail about the emergency room we were in, the television show that played in the background and the words of the doctor are still fresh on my mind.

The pain was brutal. It was sharp. It was devastating. The next 6 days my husband laid in the hospital room awaiting the final results of the biopsy. He had a tumor in his chest. His lung was collapsed. His heart was constricted. And our world was turned upside down. My husband was 29 at the time of the diagnosis. We had a 4 year old boy and a 3 year old girl. Our life was going great. I started working from home. My husband was in his last semester at the community college. Our credit card had been paid off. And then the words no one wants to hear "cancer" changed our life.

And it is in that moment that you are faced with a decision. It is so easy to say that we trust in God. It is so easy to sing songs that talk about praising God through the good and the bad. It is so easy to throw out phrases like "our God is awesome. And He is good all the time. And He will never leave us nor forsake us." It is easy to do all of that when the sky is clear and the birds are chirping and life is going good. But when your life is uprooted and everything changes in a blink of an eye you are faced with the decision of whether or not you are going to live the words you once so easily proclaimed.

And it is in the midst of the storm that God's peace does begin to sweep all over you. And it is a peace that surpasses all understanding. Because my eyes during the last 12 months have seen 150 days of hospitalizations. My eyes have witnessed my husband hooked up to chemotherapy for 24 hours straight. My eyes have seen the negative effects that chemo does to a person. My ears have heard the heartbreaking questions that two toddlers have asked. My eyes have seen the statistics to the type of cancer my husband has. My eyes have seen the low numbers in the bank account. My eyes have witnessed the plans I had for 2015 crumble.

I have been wearied. I have felt bruised. I have felt battered. My pillow has been stained with tears. My eyes have burned from all the crying. I have been exhausted beyond description. I have felt as though I was crawling towards the finish line. Although there were people supporting us, I have felt as though we were alone on this journey. I have not understood why my husband had to get cancer. I have held it together and smiled in front of people and crumbled and fell apart when I was alone.

But I have absolutely felt the peace of God. I have felt His strength carry me when I was too weak to take one more step. I have felt His comfort embrace me. I have felt His presence when this road felt so lonely. I have felt Him wipe the tears that were running down my face. As the storm pounded in our life, I have felt His shelter protect us. I have never felt alone. I have never felt abandoned. I have never felt as though God was punishing us or that He had turned His back on us in our darkest hour.
And that is because I have chose to trust God when our situation didn't make sense. I chose to hold on to the words in the Scripture even if our situation didn't make sense. I chose to live the words we so easily proclaim when everything is going well in our life.

The road has not been easy. It has been a challenging year. It has been a painful year. But God's peace has been with us every step of the way. To the person who is reading this if your sky just blackened with storm clouds or if you have been enduring a storm for some time I encourage you to continue trusting God. Don't let go. Don't walk away. Or maybe it has been years since called out to God and you are going through something I encourage you to reach out to Him. You may not understand the situation you are in but God will fill you with peace. And He will give you strength to endure the trial you are facing.