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.