Remembering What I Learned

Remembering What I Learned

The mid to late 90’s were a wonderful time for me of learning and growing into my Christian faith. I attended Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) faithfully. My husband and I were members of a vibrant Christian church dedicated to following Jesus in a way we both had never experienced before. I was also involved in Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) as the craft coordinator sharing my love of creating things with others.

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”right”]To say those were dark days is to minimize the reality.[/pullquote]During this time, I learned about God in a much fuller and more personal way, particularly through study in the Old Testament. The Old Testament revealed to me that God is the lover of his people, wooing them, becoming broken-hearted when they disobeyed Him; forgiving them when they repented; and always wanting the best for his chosen people despite their infidelity. Moreover, I learned about God’s sovereignty, and envisioned him holding the world in His hands, taking care of His people, while at the same time never going against His plan for the world to come. Everything is under his scrutiny and will. The result of this study brought this conclusion: God is faithful, trustworthy, and good.

One particular Sunday in the midst of this season of my life, we had a substitute pastor come in and preach at our church. I’ll never forget his style. He was like an old-time revival preacher. His approach was a bit theatrical, with a booming voice. Very commanding, he would say, “Look down at your Bible and read along with me.” After reading the passage, he demanded, “Now look up at me.” Seriously, he cracked me up.

But he said one thing that has stuck with me this past 15 years or so.

Remember in the darkness what you learned in the light.

Little did I know at the time, how prophetic this would become for me.

In the summer of 2002, my husband had a cold he could not shake off. He went to his doctor a couple of times, and was prescribed antibiotics and decongestants, but nothing helped. Finally, I took him to my doctor, and she began to seriously investigate what was happening in his body. Her scrutiny led to a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

That fall, he had surgery to relieve the pain, and eventually, he was admitted for cancer treatment. His therapy was as aggressive as the cancer, and required a weeklong stay at the hospital once a month. When he was released after the first treatment he looked like the pictures of Auschwitz survivors you see in WWII videos.

After the first treatment, he got quite sick and needed an emergency admission, having been home only five days. I spent all day New Year’s Eve with him, watching the nurses load him up with antibiotics and anti- viral medication. I went home that night silently believing I kissed him goodbye for the last time.

But he made it through the night, and we continued on with this routine for several months.

(Please know that my experience is from the view of a caretaker, not the viewpoint of the person who has cancer and uses all his/her strength and reserve to fight it.)

The fear, with all its anxiety and worry, which I’m prone to on a good day, was unbearable. At the beginning of this journey, somedays I just laid in bed. What would I do without him?

Loneliness plagued me. Because his immune system often bottomed out, he couldn’t be around people. Our friends didn’t want to risk making him sick, so they had to stay away. And I was alone the one week every month that he was in the hospital for treatment. When he was home, he was not sleeping normally and obviously, didn’t feel well. I was less his partner than his caretaker. I missed him.

To say those were dark days is to minimize the reality.

For the first time, I understood Jesus on the cross, the skies darkening and the winds swirling, and Jesus crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Remember in the darkness what you learned in the light.

Slowly, but surely, the Light began to infuse my spirit. There is a saying – often we need to be reminded more that we need to be instructed. My time of instruction was over, now I needed to remember what I had learned. This was an opportunity to live what I believed.

God prompted me by sending reminders to remember that he is good, faithful, and trustworthy. He provided for us during this entire time. My husband’s employer kept him on full salary through the whole treatment. During one of his stays in the hospital, a winter storm blasted the area, and people came out unexpectedly to help me. Many people were praying when I could not pray anything other than “Help us.”

One of the verses that stands out from the journal I wrote at the time was:

Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV

Was this experience a test? I don’t know. I think it was… life. This is what happens to people. For me, it was an opportunity to remember who I really was and what I really believe. And it prepared me for the next thing, and the next thing, and the next thing….

God has promised to be faithful, trustworthy and good. What he hasn’t promised is for me to have an easy life. What I need, is to remember who God is through it all.

Reminders are appreciated.

And the treatment worked, my husband has been cancer free for 13 years.

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Rebecca Montie Preston
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Rebecca Montie Preston

Becky is a Spiritual Director from southeastern Pennsylvania.Her other roles include wife, mother of two, and grandmother of six.She has her MA from Biblical Theological Seminary, and studied at Renovare Institute for Spiritual Formation and Kairos School for Spiritual Direction.
Rebecca Montie Preston
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8 thoughts on “Remembering What I Learned

  1. Ruth

    Beautiful, Becky.
    I’ve heard you tell this and it is so worth remembering….makes me want to know God more now, so I can more fully trust him in the dark…that is bound to come, since we are still here on earth.

    Reply

    1. Rebecca Preston

      Absolutely. Not trying to be a pessimist here, but: “In this world you will have trouble, but take care, I have overcome the world.” (Jesus)
      I think it’s also enough to hold on to what we already do know, and we know a lot about God. We just need to remember what we do know.

      Reply

  2. Tara

    Praise God that your husband is well! And that you had your faith, friends and family to guide you through.
    Thanks for sharing such a hard and raw memory. I think that many times (not on purpose) the pure hell the caregiver goes through is overshadowed (and rightfully so) by the even worse hell the patient is going through.
    Cancer is a thief of joy, it takes and takes. So glad that your joy comes from the Lord and I love the 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 verse.

    Reply

    1. Rebecca Preston

      Thanks, Tara. It sounds like your family went through something similar. It’s a tough road no matter if you are the person with cancer or the loved ones. But when the dust settles, it is remarkable to see how God was in it all.

      Reply

  3. Gretchen

    Beautifully written, Becky. What a powerful illustration of remembering what we know, regardless of our feelings & situation. I’m so glad your husband was healed. It amazes me how God brings forth new fruit in these difficult seasons. But He does. ❤️

    Reply

    1. Rebecca Preston

      Yes, He does. We just need to be looking for it. Thanks, Gretchen.

      Reply

  4. Diane

    Remember what we have learned. Never, ever something to be ignored. And the OT. Well, you know where I started with this…I am slowly growing to appreciate and join you in your love for it! (Perhaps ‘love’ is too strong! But I am certainly liking it more!) a testament to what a great teacher and encourager you are! And, so glad Bud made it through – not knowing him would have been a huge loss for us!

    Reply

    1. Rebecca Preston

      Little did I know I would be the precursor to your book! And I’m just as glad, he’s here for you to know!

      Reply

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