Too many times our pain and trials can consume us and cause us to lose focus of what truly is important. Hope is vital for survival and happiness. And hope is strengthened when it is administered with love. In this blog, I share a reminder that I recently received, and offer this as an encouragement to you - look around, make a difference for someone else, you may be better off than you realize.
It is 4:00 AM, I am awakened by my wife who is in pain. This is not an unusual occurrence. Since cancer has been attacking her liver, pain has been an almost constant part of her life. There is not much that I can do in these moments. I can make sure that she gets her pain med taken. I can be sure that she has water to drink. And I can take a few moments and touch her or simply hold her hand waiting for the medicine’s effect to begin.
Then when she is calm again, and resting, I will walk out into the kitchen to get myself a drink of water. I typically do not turn on any extra lights because there seems to be enough in the house from clocks, electronics, and the light on the refrigerator panel itself. I am struck at this moment at how convenient my life is and how much I take for granted. At four in the morning, I am deciding between crushed ice or cubed ice in my water that will be dispensed into a clean cup, and I do not even have to open the refrigerator door.
My life as a missionary has given me the great pleasure and honor to travel to many areas of this world in order to share the Gospel, encourage believers, pray for others, and to be a small part of expanding the Kingdom of God. In this moment, standing in front of my refrigerator, God’s Spirit flooded my heart and mind with images of people, children, families and moments that God has pressed into who I am today. He reminded me I have more than I need, and that He is good to me.
Clean water is a challenge in many areas of this world where I have ministered. Abundance of water is another challenge. Ice? What is that? Crushed or cubed, never even a dilemma in the mind of the majority of people that I have come into contact with in my lifetime of ministry. It is at this moment of listening to the water fill my glass and the sound of the ice crackling as it expands with the touch of the water, that the Spirit of God also reminds me of another heavy, but powerful truth from my missionary journeys. My wife’s cancer.
Cancer can be an almost all-consuming event in a life, marriage and family. It definitely occupies the majority of my wife’s thoughts throughout the day. We cry and beg God for a miracle. At times we even feel sorry for ourselves and we fight to keep from asking the question we refuse to ask, “why, Lord, why?” Here is the truth though, my wife took a pain medicine to help with her struggle. She has an upcoming appointment to learn the results of a CT scan that will give a good indication if the treatment plan she is on is helping to shrink the tumors or not. And that is when it hits me, just like with the water and ice, it hits me – the convenience of my life – I have no room to complain to God, be mad at Him, doubt Him and demand more from Him.
I was once told, while ministering in another culture, “if someone here has cancer, it is a death sentence, there is no treatment available for them.” I have fresh water and a choice of ice available at the touch of a button. I have light in the middle of the night to guide me to that source of water. My wife has a treatment plan for her cancer and an extensive team of medical professionals working on her behalf. I am humbled. My thoughts are moving away from me and once again, God is reminding me of the world and the unmet needs that yet remain in so many lives; the lives of children, the life of a man’s wife, or a woman’s husband. I am reminded of the fear and complete despair that consumes us when we do not have answers or resources to resolve problems and meet needs in our lives and the life of those we care about most.
And then an obscure verse is brought to my heart and I remember how much I am loved, how much my wife is loved, and how much God loves the world;
8:7 Many waters cannot quench the flame of love, neither can the floods drown it. If a man tried to buy it with everything he owned, he couldn’t do it.” – Song of Solomon.
Hard times, disease, sickness, poverty, abandonment, desperation, corruption, pride, ignorance, prosperity, goodness or evil – there is nothing that can stop God from loving, because He is love (1 Jn 4:8). God never quits loving. Because God’s love cannot be put out, dampened or diminished, because He will never quit loving, how can I quit loving Him, trusting Him or serving Him?
Crushed or cubed, sickness or health, feast or famine – I choose to continue to trust and love God, because He continues to love me. I choose to continue to tell others of God’s love and the hope that is found in His Son, Jesus Christ. My hope for my wife’s health is not founded in medicine or a great medical team – it is founded in the God behind the medicine and team of doctors.