The doctor says “this is the best course of action based on what we know now”.
We are fighting at least three battle fronts. 12 days ago there were 2. There is cancer in the sewer of my body. There’s cancer in the network of lymph nodes that is meant to protect me. And we learned from the originally cancelled and last week aborted surgery to remove the tumors of the sewer that there is disease hiding out in my pelvis too. It is the realization of your greatest fear that you are up against guerrilla warfare from an indifferent enemy; you plot attacks, corral defenses, but yet you can only plan from your current purview against a completely unpredictable adversary.
So the doctors can only make decisions about the current circumstances. The outcomes follow directly from these decisions. There’s now way to know if a different treatment plan would result in a better outcome due to a yet unforeseen factor. And this is how life operates. It generates a timeline of events.
But can you imagine the Creator of the universe operating this way? Always intervening at the desires of his people who believe they know what is best for them? But God happens to know all unforeseen factors, so His good path for us may be (and likely is) vastly different from what we believe and what we pray for. So as we continue to pray for each other, we always end with a “thy will be done” because we know and trust that God’s will is best.
But we continue to pray for people’s sufferings to end! For the lonely to find companionship, those struggling financially to find a stable job, for those with addictions to be freed, those struggling with depression to experience joy, those enduring difficult relationships to see reconciliation, and those fighting disease to discover a miracle cure. But the reality is that these difficulties are meant to transform us. Meant to help us know this triune God that loves us. He loves us so much that His Son was crucified for us.
Coming home has been more difficult than I expected. First, I obviously haven’t come home with the feeling of a victor from a battle but simply battered from the fight. Then, there is coming home to the bills that have been waiting for me and some bits of bad news–all before lunch. And then there’s the looming uncertainty of the next steps.
BUT I AM HERE. I HAVE A WONDERFUL FAMILY. WONDERFUL CHURCH. WONDERFUL FRIENDS. WONDERFUL JOB. I AM TRULY BLESSED.
I AM NOT FORSAKEN!
Reminding myself this doesn’t necessarily remove the feeling that it isn’t true, though. In my selfishness, with all the blessings in my life, I still have the nerve to ask “God, why won’t you bless me in these additional ways?” All because of the fear that God’s will may take me further down a path of suffering through which I resist letting go of the life I envision instead of embracing the enriched life that he is revealing.
A lot of my frustration is that I feel called to serve. I want so much to see our church, Resurrection Presbyterian, grow and build its own brick-and-mortar home on the East Side of Athens. I want to see people moving towards one another, building community, experiencing fellowship with one another and with God. I want to see His Kingdom grow. I want to see His work in everything and have infinite reasons to praise Him.
But right now, I’m not praising. I’m simply trying to remember. And God has been providing so many sovereign “coincidences” (signs) that he is with me and at work.
For some reason I thought of the movie “Field of Dreams”. Ray (Kevin Costner) hears voices that encourage him to build a baseball field in his corn field. He then hears voices and experiences “coincidences” (again, signs) that lead him to travel around the country meeting different people that are somehow connected to his story. They all end up at his farm in Iowa playing baseball with spirits (or ghosts) of the 1919 Chicago White Sox, with “Shoeless” Joe Jackson being the primary character.
I’m sure many of you know the story. If you don’t, then you should see it.
Towards the end, the living people that he has brought to Iowa are invited to join the ghosts to leave the baseball field and enter the corn from whence the White Sox players have come. There is some mystical destination in the corn. When Ray finds that he is not invited, he is indignant. He’s worked so hard, but yet he doesn’t know his part in the story. He finally asks Shoeless Joe, “what’s in it for me?”, to which Joe, if memory serves, says “you better stay here, Ray”. Joe then leaves the field to disappear with the others into the corn.
Ray is left to himself, confused. But then he sees one remaining player out in the field. And he walks out there to join him in a game of catch. It’s Ray’s father, with whom he was estranged in life and regretted not knowing better. What Ray was meant to get out of this was the ability to meet his father.
What I’m meant to get out of all of this is to meet my Heavenly Father. I will know Him more and more as He supports me through difficult days and the rejoicing moments of sharing love with family and friends, especially when its foundation is Christ himself. To look at another person and share a moment in time, yes, but then to express in sincere hugs that we will have the opportunity to share moments like these through all eternity. A fool’s dream to some, an absolute truth to others, and perhaps a shaky hope for those with whom God is still cultivating a mustard seed of faith.
So on days like these, when I’m feeling awfully discouraged, my wife reminds me to remember my blessings. It’s no different from when the grumbling Israelites were stranded in the desert after fleeing Egypt–they were encouraged to remember the Passover. Remembering what God has done for us provides the encouragement to persevere.
Remember, remember, remember. New days equal new mercies. New mercies provide new remembrances. This is how we meet our Father.