My Faith Has Found a Resting Place

Photo Credit - Rachel Spurgeon

 When life gets hard or when our everyday life detours into roads to which we are not familiar we find ourselves confronted with unknowns.  That has been the last month of my life.  Six weeks ago I had heard of thyroid cancer; but I was unaware of the types of cancers that can show up in the thyroid.  Six weeks ago I was not accustomed to seeing my husband tired and coming home exhausted at the end of a normal work day.  Then life took a turn and the sign in front of that road was marked “DETOUR”.  I had not been this way before in my journey.

I found myself amazed at range of emotions that came over me.  It has been quite a month!  It has been interesting to me to see how easily it is for me in times of crisis to place my faith and dependence upon things that are not dependable.  It has literally been a battle of my soul to make sure that I am placing my faith – my dependence – my trust in something that is solid and sure.  It also has amazed me at how hard Satan tries to bring things across my path that appear to be worthy of my faith and trust; but after closer observation I realize that there is not sure footing in these things.  It has been amazing to me at how much Satan has tried to battle for control of my thoughts in the past four weeks.  It has been a battle been fought – quite intensely, might I add!  Satan has wanted to do everything in his power to cause me depend upon things that were not biblical and sure. 

One of the places I saw that Satan wanted me to place my faith in was that of statistics and numbers.  When the first surgeon told us that she was very concerned about some serious cancers I went home and started to do the research the cancers she had mentioned.   When I saw the percentage of people that get these types of cancers was only 1% and 3% of those diagnosed with thyroid cancer I found myself placing my dependence on those low stats and telling myself that we would be fine!   The mantra of those of us who want to depend upon the numbers for our faith is:  “We’ll be fine!  What are the chances?”    But as I went to bed that night quoting my mantra and seeing those percentage signs in neon colors in my head flashing on and off – I must admit that I had NO peace.  No peace, because deep in my heart I knew that statistics cannot be trusted.  I live in a world where children get cancers, babies die, tornadoes bring out entire devastation within seconds and a myriad of other devastation that are not statistically ‘possible’. 

Another place I found myself wanting to depend upon but not finding peace within was normality.  So many times I found myself thinking, “This can’t be happening to us! “  “This is all a bad dream and I am going to wake up to find everything is as it has always been.”  Here I was wanting to place my faith in normality; but this has not been a bad dream and while I have awaken from sleep about thirty-five times since the first day we heard cancer, the tumor is still there and Rob has still been sick.  When I place my faith in my schedule, my lists, my plans (and I am a planner, am a master list maker and I LOVE my schedules)  – I find myself on terrible shaky ground when I am depending upon these things to give me peace. 

A well meaning acquaintance said to me recently that what I needed to do was to refuse to think about cancer – to make sure that I did not even let the word come into my mind – because it would send “bad vibes” that would make Rob sick.  She then concluded that if the bad vibes were gone Rob would get healed and the cancer would no longer have any place in his body because we had commanded it to not be there by thinking about good things and not the negative cancer.  While I was not tempted to put my faith in this rational; I will say that there are many who want to use positive thinking to handle all the problems that come into life.  Thinking happy thoughts and refusing to think about anything that might be negative will not cure cancer, stop murder or famine, cure our political crisis’s or heal family relationships.  If am placing my faith in my ability to think positively and command anything “bad” out of my life to make my life peaceful – it will not take long at all for my faith to be dashed to pieces!

I have found another way Satan tries to get me to misplace my faith and it is one that actually looks sounds and feels very SPIRITUAL; but I am positive that it is the most destructive.  This plot of Satan to destroy my faith in God is when Satan tries to convince me that I am to pray in faith and demand upon God to work the way that I want this to turn out.  When I am tempted to have my prayer life turn into nothing more than demanding my way from God and using an incorrect view of “bold faith” to justify my actions, the potential for my view of God to be shattered is a distinct possibility – no, it is actually a probability!   I believe Satan tries very hard to have me believe this avenue is worthy of my faith.  If He convinces me if I truly believe in God I am able to manipulate God with my prayers; I am in a very very dangerous position.  When my manipulative faith filled prayers are prayed and God does not do what I want Him to do, serious doubts are placed on God’s love and care for me; or I will look to myself and feel that I did something wrong in the way I prayed (not long enough, bold enough, or faith filled enough) for God to answer.  When my faith is placed here – the results are devastating to my faith if it does not turn out my way.

In Psalm 42:5 the psalmist declares and pleads:  Why art thou cast down, Oh my soul? And why art thou disquieted in me?  Hope thou in GOD:  for I shall yet praise Him for help of His countenance. (emphasis mine)  When I place my dependence upon God Himself I find peace and a sure footing.  Depending upon God is possible as I review in my mind His nature and His attributes.  The more I know about God the easier it is for me to depend (have faith) upon Him.  There have been several nights when my mind started reviewing over and over again all the things that could change and have changed since the tumor appeared – and as I kept reviewing those in my mind I found unrest and anxiety.  I have had to consciously choose to stop those obsessive thought and make my mind start thinking about who God is.  (I also have had several friends who have been my counselors who have reminded me to have faith in something sure – not in the uncertain).  The concept of God and His love has been one attribute I have focused upon and have found when I have done this a complete peace settled over my heart.  Be still and know that I am God” has been a verse I have quoted over and over again in my mind.

I also have found great peace come when I place myself and my faith in the Word of God.  Psalm 119:50 says, “This is my comfort in my affliction:  for Thy Word hath quickened (made alive) me.”    Such comfort I have found in the Bible these past four weeks!  It has been a source of encouragement to me.  There have been days where I just could not do the normal things that occupy my time – I just needed to sit and read God’s Word and have found such abundant help during those times of reading and meditation.  God’s Word has brought such peace and comfort to me!

I have also found that God’s Word brings so much peace when I depend upon the promises that God has given me as I read His Word.  The Bible is not just a history book or a book of theology.  God has given me His Word to help guide me through this trial.  When I apply God’s promises to me – to this situation and depend upon them in faith knowing that what God says is true I have complete peace!  One promise that I have held close to my heart through within this past month is found in II Corinthians 4:17-18.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  What comfort this promise has been!  God is using this affliction (and He calls it a LIGHT affliction) – to do something within me that is more than I can even comprehend here in my heart!  He is using this in my life for ETERNAL benefits!  WOW!  When I claim this as truth and rest on this as what is happening in my life right now – I have immense peace! 

So, daily I am choosing to place my faith in what is sure and on the One who changes not and can be trusted.  Yes, I have prayed for healing and for the cancer to be gone – but I also have told the Lord that I want His will for our lives and I will leave it to Him.  He can heal the cancer or He can allow for us to go through deep waters because of cancer.  I do not know what the future holds in that regard but we will know very soon.  I do know that no matter what happens God loves me, will not leave me, and will give the grace to go through whatever comes after the surgery.  God is the One I can trust.  He is more dependable than statistics, logic, positive thinking or a manipulative religion. When I trust in God Himself – I find peace that cannot be explained!  I have understood this peace within these last few weeks – it has been wonderful!     

Hate vs Love

A few weeks ago we were on our biweekly library outing.  Now, when we go to the library – we GO to the library!  It is one of the highlights of my children’s day when I tell them it is library day.  Everywhere we have lived we have gotten to know the librarians at our local library. I am pretty sure that when the day comes for our children to get married - we will have wedding invitations addressed to librarians we have known through the years.

When we leave the library we are carrying a laundry basket full of books - lots and lots of books.  Most of which, we read during the two weeks we have them.  We have a requirement that the kids have to check out several books on different topics.  They have to get a biography, a science book, a geography or history book.  Now that Zak is reading well, he is required to check out at least five easy readers.

I had sent him over to the easy reader section and told him to sit down and pick out five books.  He would have been content to stay in the insect / animal section looking at books on dinosaurs;  or his most recent  subject of obsession since having a Labrador retriever in the country has increased his exposure to the despicable creatures – finding book on tics!  

It was while he was standing nearby looking at picture books to read aloud to the children when my eye noticed her.  She was well groomed, well dressed, but behaved badly.  She seemed to have the mindset that since she was richer, older and bigger than children she should be able to push any child out of the way to locate books for which she was intent on finding.  Zak happened to be looking for books in the exact same spot she wanted to look.  There were several shelves of easy reader books - but she was intent on looking in the exact location Zak was looking for the books.  She would push through and Zak would move over - only to have her decide that where he had moved to and was looking was the section she now needed to look through.  It went on for some time.    It was quite unbecoming and she was very rude.  Zak did not notice the belligerent behavior – or the dirty looks she kept giving him as he was trying to find his books and kept moving aside as she pushed her way through and made him physically move several different times. 

Zak did not notice.    
I did.  

Time past, Zak found his easy reader books, let the lady have all the shelves of easy readers to look at and headed back to the insect section of books.   I finished choosing the book I wanted to check out for before bedtime reading; and finally we were finished scavenging the shelves for books and it was time for us to go and check out.  When we got to the front counter with our arms loaded down with books I noticed that the well dressed lady was standing at the counter checking out a couple of easy reader books she had found.    She had been busy talking with a librarian behind the counter.  We stood there waiting behind – or rather beside her.  We were in no rush to leave – and we were waiting our turn.  As we waited, another librarian came up behind the counter and asked if she could help us check out.  The well dressed lady moved aside in a huff as Zak approached the counter with his armload of books.    The librarian that was helping us took a couple of the cases from audio books that we were going to check out and went back to the back room to retrieve the requested material.  We stood there -  waiting.

The lady beside me waited too.   She kept staring at me –or more accurately -  glaring at me.  I was amazed.  It also was one of those awkward moments – moment.  My eyes met her as she kept staring and glaring so I did what came natural – and I gave her a smile.  (I was wondering as I smiled what type of issue she had been diagnosed with and if she had taken the medication she had been prescribed for her condition that morning before she left for the library!) What happened next sent the hair on the back of my neck to attention.   As soon as I smiled at her she snarled at me – like showing teeth snarled at me. She then huffed, grunted at me then lifting her left leg high into the air she brought her foot down with great force and stomped on the floor.  .  I diverted my gaze away from her and prayed that the librarian would get back soon so this awkward moment could end! 
I was busy wondering what was wrong with her and was busy trying to evaluate if I needed to get the kids away from this crazy lady, that I did not even notice that Zak had been watching the whole thing.  He had seen the snarl, the huffing and the foot stomping. I was horrified when I heard Zak ask, “Is there something wrong?”

She ignored him.
 I did too.

He asked again, “Is there something wrong with you?  You look like something is really wrong.  Are you sick?”

I was ready to crawl under the counter – but there was not enough space.  His autistic mind was reading this situation completely wrong - he is far from fluent in body language.  I was horrified.    I went to hush Zak and tell him he needed to be quiet but before I could say anything she huffed right at Zak and stomped her foot again.  I think my eyes were the size of saucers.  I could not believe what I was seeing right before my eyes. 

As soon as her foot hit the ground Zak looked her right in the eyes and said, “Why do you keep doing that?  Why do you keep stomping your foot?” 

She finally spoke and while she did I could see the veins in her neck pulsating.  “I guess you all are more important than me!  You and your mom and little sister must have special privileges here!”  Her words dripped with disdain and hate.     She then crossed her arms in front of her crushing the easy reading books she was holding…   

Now, I know my eyes were huge.  “What was this lady’s problem?” was the question I kept repeating within my mind.

Nothing about Zak happens in slow motion  - everything happens at lightning speed.  I was horrified when I heard the question that I kept asking myself about the lady audibly leaving my sons lips. Zak  looked at her and said, “What IS the matter with you?”

I then tried to get to the counter so I could put the books that I was holding down and put my hand over his mouth and make him stop taking to the lady.  I also thought it would be a good idea to be in a position to stand between my son and the crazy lady!    As I stepped up to the counter I stopped just short of putting the books down when she started screaming.  


It became clear to me at that instant that what I was witnessing was not a crazy woman or someone with some sort of mental disorder, it was a full grown adult woman throwing a temper tantrum.  I was shocked; and once again I did not expect Zak to respond the way he did.

As soon as the words the woman had spoken registered in his brain he quickly bent forward and bowed to her (the way a piano student bows when they finish their piece at a piano recital).  While he was bowed low to the ground he took his hand and motioned for her to go in front of him. He stood slumped over for several seconds motioning repeatedly with his hands for her to proceed to the counter in front of him.   My mouth about fell to the floor.  I was speechless.

Then he stood up and looked her right in the eye and said, “ You are very important and you should go in front of us!  You were here first!”

Well, by this time several librarians hearing her shouting had come to find out what was going on and offer assistance.  It quickly became known that the librarian that had offered to help us – had assumed that another librarian (the one the lady was talking to just a few moment before) was helping the lady.  The librarian had come to help whoever was next in line   - and making the assumption that lady was being helped by the other coworker -  had offered to help us.  

With several librarians behind the counter now to help the lady – she was motioned up to the other side of the counter and they began to check out her books.  While she was waiting, Zak looked at her and said, “Every single person is special and important!”  

The transformation that took place right before my eyes was nothing short of miraculous!  I now, had to try to suppress my laughter.  Her angry face transformed into a face chiseled with lines of shame and embarrassment  – her hate had been met by kindness and love.    Zak then started talking to her like they were best of friends.   He asked her about the type of book she liked to read, told her about his dog and how his dog, Thor, gets tics, and how he wants to read all about tics so he can know how they get on his dog.  He asked her if she had a dog, if she liked dogs and told her that he was going to meet his Dad for lunch and invited her to come and have lunch with us and meet his Dad - (who, he informed her, is a very hard worker and loved him very much!)  His uninhibited conversation and kindness made her have to engage him.  When the librarian was finished checking her out (and while the our librarian was still busy checking out our stacks of books) Zak went over and patted her arm and said, “You are very very important!  Don’t ever think that I am more special than you.  God made you and that makes you very special! ”  

She sheepishly smiled and walked out of the library.  I smiled in my heart and let the lesson lodge deep within:   Love is a powerful force.  We love others when we are humble; and even the humility of a child can softened the hardest of hearts.  

Hatred and anger had met love.  

Love always wins!  


One Week

A View of the Sunset from our front porch

It’s Friday.  One week until the scheduled surgery.  We have family coming down to be with us for the big day.  The house is being cleaned – and organized.  School books and work stations have been arranged for the upcoming school year.  Paperwork has been gone through; vehicles have been serviced and ready for the trips to Charlotte. 

We have been busy doing everything we know to build up Rob’s body and have it as strong as we can for the surgery.  The tumor is still there.  I have wanted to wake up – feel his neck and be able to declare, “It’s gone!”  That has not happened.  His weight continues to go down; loosing an average of 3-4 pounds a week.  Rob still is battling considerable fatigue and weakness at times.  It comes and goes.  He still has continued to go to work and carry on pretty much like normal despite how tired he feels physically.  (I have always been so thankful for a husband that is a hard worker!)

There is so much we do not know.  They are not sure the exact type of cancer we are dealing with (there has been several tests done and much debate between doctors on what we are looking at and what type of cells are causing the tumor).  We have found out that this is pretty common for thyroid cancer – a fact I did not know two months ago.  The doctor has called and told us that the bottom line is that we will not know what we are looking at until she is able to get him opened up.  She also told us that there is no way to know for sure how long the surgery will be – she gave a time frame of anywhere from an hour and a half to four and a half hours  - depending on what she finds.  There has been so much uncertainty.  There are so many questions that do not have answers. 

I will say this – and I hope it comes out right:  When they told us that we had to wait three plus weeks till they could get him into surgery – I thought that I would grow crazy with waiting!  However, these past weeks have been some of the sweetest days we have had as a couple and as a family.  God has been here – with us!  His presence has been so real.  Our focus has been adjusted and in the viewing – it has been amazing how different life looks!  We have sat around the table as a family and talked about Heaven, the millennial reign of Christ, salvation, sanctification and faith – not normal dinner time topics!    I   know this will sound odd – but I would not trade the last couple of weeks for all the money in the world.  The promises of God’s Word have been held close to my heart and the Holy Spirit has given indescribable peace and comfort. 

So, tomorrow – we will celebrate Rob’s birthday as a family.  He will be 48.  Then, next week we will start all the preparations needed to get him ready for surgery.  I will find myself amazed that we are ‘here’ at this time in our lives.  I am sure that I will spend time remembering the good times God has given us together; and I know I will continue to pray and ask God to give us 25 more years together!  There is still so much more that we want to do; so many things we feel God wants us to accomplish together as a couple!  So, I can assure you that I will pray and ask God for a miracle.  He still does them  - you know!   

God is Glorified in Waiting

It’s been two years since I read the story and connected in my heart to it.

It’s the story of Mary the sister of Lazarus.  So real it became that day that as I sat and read the tears spilled out of my eyes and down my cheeks.  Her brother was sick.  She sent for Jesus – one of their dearest friends to come.  Jesus got the message that Lazarus was sick, and it says that He tarried there two more days.  He did not come.  He waited. 

The story goes on that when Lazarus dies – then Jesus goes to His friends.  Mary, confused that he did not come when Lazarus as still there – and in grief of heart she runs to meet the Savior and opens her heart to the Lord and says, “If you had come – my brother would not have died..” 

It was at that point in the story that I stopped my reading that day and wept.  I understood her pain.

I have sat in the enclosed cubicle of an emergency room – and been handed the lifeless body of my daughter wrapped tightly in blankets  - and  though Mary’s’ exact words did not leave my lips – I felt them with every fiber of my heart – “Lord if you had been here – my daughter would not have died.” 

That was seventeen years ago – and I have learned so much from that moment.    I know – that when we are called upon to wait it can feel like God is not there. 

Once again, I find myself being told by God to wait.  Every day I am watching my husband’s body show signs of illness.  There is weakness and fatigue that I am not accustomed to seeing.  I wrap my arms around him and I feel his body shrinking (even though there is weight to loose – it is unnerving to see it leaving so quickly).  All feels different.

 Once again, I can relate to Mary in this story.    She had called for Jesus to come when her brother was sick.  I too have called out to Him and asked Him to intervene and to do something for my husband who is sick.  I have been given the date for the surgery and count down the days.  It seems so far away; and I know God could have given us a date on the calendar much sooner; but has chosen to allow us to wait.    Mary waited after she called for Jesus to come.   She continued waiting as she watched her brother’s health turn from bad - to worse --- to gone.  Imagine the feelings of abandonment Mary felt the moment her brother took his last labored breath.    Perhaps she laid her head down on the lifeless arm of her brother and wept till her body shook – all the while thinking, “ Jesus did not come!”

It is then, that my mind is brought back to this story and I read where Jesus tells his disciples WHY Lazarus was sick:  “that the Son of God might be glorified.”  He whispers these words to my heart too; and reminds me how God has received glory from other times in our lives when it appeared He had not come.

I am drawn to think about the last month.  Yes, we have found a tumor – heard the word ‘cancer’ and we have shed some tears.  I have had sleepless nights and anxious feelings that at times have felt overpowering.  But I also can see that both Rob and I have claimed scripture; and have found in His Word promises that have brought comfort.   We have prayed together more heartfelt and fervent than we normally do. We have evaluated our lives in light of eternity.  We have thought about Heaven more.    He already has been glorified in the waiting because in our eyes as a couple – God looks bigger – clearer - closer.   Our children have asked questions of a spiritual nature that teenagers and young adults do not normally even think about. I have sat and listened to the heartfelt prayer of Zak, who despite autism, knows that God can heal his Daddy – and has asked God to do so, not once but many times each day since Rob got sick.   Ah, God is being magnified in their lives as well – they too are seeing a bigger God.    Eternity does not seem as far away as it did six months ago. 

So once again, I can relate to Mary.  I have called for Christ to come and take away the tumor, make Rob feel better, give us an early surgery date; but just like Mary Jesus has not yet come and done those things.  I pull out my Bible and read the story, and I tell God again just how hard the waiting is.   He takes me back to Mary and reminds me of what He has already taught me.  “Wait on the LORD:  be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart:  wait, I say, on the LORD.”   I claim the verses and surrender to the working of the Holy Spirit in my life. 

I am not able, in my own strength to rest and be at peace; but when I claim His Word as truth – wholeheartedly embrace it - something miraculous happens – He gives peace!  My heart IS strengthened.  I am able to actively see scripture fulfilled in my life.  “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; then shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”  I watch it happen!    His presence is there and I am able to wait.   As I wait He whispers – just as He said to Mary many years ago, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?"   And I cry out to God as He speaks to me, "I believe!"  (then I quickly add as did the father who brought his sick son to Jesus asking him to bring healing) "Help thou mine unbelief!" 

He is never late or delayed – always on time .Always performing in my life what is best for me.