It is Monday afternoon and I have just returned home from chemo treatment #16. My little pump is whirring away as I type, administering the 3rd of my 3 chemo drugs. I am quite nauseated but not otherwise feeling too bad yet, so I felt I should take this time to write a bit. I feel maybe I should clarify my thoughts from my last post.
But first, a few things:
1. I am very thankful to the Grandview Youth Group for organizing a big yard sale this past weekend with proceeds going to benefit our family. What a beautiful, amazing thing the body of Christ is. These precious teens, who have never met me, wanted to do something for us simply because of the bond we share as brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you so much, Grandview folks (and my Brentwood Hills CC church family for your donations)! I hope to come and visit soon and relay my thanks in person.
2. Update on my physical condition: I had a good week last week, for the most part. I experienced relatively little pain, was able to sleep well for the most part, and was able to get out and enjoy life with my family and friends. I am not bouncing back from treatments as quickly or as thoroughly as I used to, and it is frustrating that on my best days I still feel run down, fatigued, and a lack of energy in general. I spoke with Dr. Penley about that today. He said that is very common for someone who has been on chemotherapy for this long. He likened it to a marathon, saying mile 25 feels a lot different from mile 1. That analogy made good sense to me, even though it is frustrating. He is hoping I can take an extended break from chemo soon, but is not able to tell me when yet, because it depends upon what the CTs show. But back to last week: the Lord blessed us yet again with another wonderful weekend family trip – our first ever camping trip. My generous cousin Jeremy and his wife Juli loaned us their own very nice pop-up camper AND their truck to tow it so that we would not have to sleep on the “cold hard ground” as one friend said. We had perfect, PERFECT beautiful weather and the boys had a BLAST. We camped with 26 other families from church, and we’re pretty sure the kids outnumbered the adults. I had prayed so much for a good weekend, that I would feel well enough to enjoy it, and that the weather would cooperate, and the Lord answered all those prayers and then some! It was even better than I expected. I even had enough energy to ride my bike with my family quite a bit as well as paddle a canoe for a bit. We enjoyed a late night talk with good friends around a campfire on a cool evening, while the boys slept hard all snuggled side by side in their sleeping bags in the camper, having thoroughly expended their abundant energy during the day. We rode bikes, fed fish, did some fishing (well my 3 boys did while I supervised), roasted hot dogs, roasted marshmallows, ate smores, threw rocks in the lake, went for a ride on a pontoon boat, and just completely enjoyed ourselves. I am so thankful for the chance to make special memories with my boys now, and I hope we made some great ones this weekend.
3. My next CT scan is after this round. It is scheduled for next Thursday, October 6th at 12:30. As always, I will be fasting and praying that day, and would appreciate anyone who would want to join me in that.
Now, as to clarifying my last post:
I saw a friend who said, “Well, I got confused by your last post. You said you were really discouraged in the beginning, but then by the end you didn’t sound so at all.”
Yes, exactly. Welcome to the rollercoaster. I can go from thoroughly disheartened to overflowing with faith and hope in about 2 seconds flat. It is a constant bipolarism (I probably just made that word up.)
But that is why I love Psalm 13. David sounds a little contradictory too.
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, ” I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love. (What? Didn’t David just say he felt forgotten?); my heart rejoices in your salvation. (What? Rejoices? Didn’t he just say he has sorrow in his heart every day? And salvation? Didn’t he just say his enemy will say “I have overcome him.”?)
I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me. (Good? Wasn’t he just saying God was hiding his face?)
Oh, I can just see David wrestling. He knows, has SEEN, God do amazing things in his life. God has delivered him in awe-inspiring, fantastic ways. I’m no scholar, so I don’t know when in his life David wrote this Psalm, but I imagine it to be after he has killed savage animals with his bare hands while working as a shepherd, after he slew Goliath with just a little rock. He has seen God’s power with his own eyes, and now he doesn’t understand why God is waiting to act now, allowing David’s enemy to “triumph over” him.
David wrestles. He wrestles with his emotion. He stubbornly draws his line in the sand, intensely coming back around to what He KNOWS in his head about his God.
So David determinedly clings to 3 things: God’s actions in the past, God’s promises for the future, and God’s character, His very nature.
1. He says, “I will sing to the Lord, for He HAS BEEN good to me.” He is determined to focus his mind on the ways the Lord has cared for him in the past and brought him through time and time again.
2. His heart “rejoices in God’s salvation”. He knows God saves. He saves his children. David knows his own salvation is at hand, that God always wins in the end.
3. And he says, “I will trust in your unfailing love.” He knows in his heart that God is a God who loves perfectly, unconditionally, unswervingly, unfailingly (might have made that word up too – I’m blaming it on the drugs.)
David clings to what he “knows”, while what his heart “feels” is abandonment from God.
That is where I am. Right there. Thank you, David, for writing this Psalm. Thank you Holy Spirit of God for inspiring these words. What a comfort they are.
I make a conscious decision every day to hold to what I know in my head, to at least repeat the words of truth even if I don’t “feel” their truth. I know God is there. I know He hears. I know He has made glorious promises to His children. I know He loves me beyond my ability to grasp. I know He wins in the end, no matter what.
I “feel” abandoned on my dark, uncomfortable days. In hope, I believe he will heal me on this earth, but what I don’t understand is the delay, the intense suffering, the escalating suffering. I know the struggle makes me appreciate good days more; I know I am learning dependence upon God, but I don’t understand why it has to continue on for this long. Haven’t I learned enough by now? Why does it have to be this hard?
I don’t “feel” particularly loved at those times. But I “know” that I am.
I may not actually be clarifying anything. I may just be muddying up the waters even further. I don’t know that it’s possible to understand until you go through something like this. I don’t know.
I guess to summarize: I am discouraged by my current state, by my suffering now. But I am hopeful for the end result. I am holding on to hope for a bright future – the future of Job, the future of Ruth, the future of Joseph, the future of David.
Hope that maybe that makes a little more sense. If not, you can just call me crazy. That’s kinda how I feel anyway.
I hope that maybe this may be of some encouragement to someone else going through a particularly rough battle. I encourage you to hold on tightly, resolutely, stubbornly to the words of truth – God IS love, it is WHO HE IS. God works everything to the good for his children. Hold on to truth even through the doubt, the fear, the dry times of the heart. Keep that firm grasp, even white-knuckled as it may be, even as slippery a grasp as it might be. Don’t let it go.
As always, I thank you for reading and encouraging me. You ARE holding up my arms, as Aaron and Hur did for Moses. I am convinced that any good that may be coming from these posts is coming directly from God in response to your many prayers for me. So if you like anything you read, give yourself a little pat on the back and give praise to God for answering your prayers.
My love and blessings to you all.