Perspective

I wonder…

Some days are rougher than other days. Some days I don’t know if I can handle one more thing. I then God gives me one more thing. And another.

I asked my wife if maybe we live on an old nuclear testing site, or a sacred burial ground. If I listed every health issue that my family and I have gone through, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Most people don’t. Most of what I do in Emergency Rooms is try to convince the doctor that, yes, we really do have these rare disorders. It was much, much harder to do before everything was computerized. Now if we can only get them to look at charts….but I digress.

And I wonder. Why yet another thing? Why do I spend hours at the doctor’s? It seems to me that there is  so much more I could be doing. I have people to visit, books to read, sermons to prepare, writing to do, communities to be involved in…

But I am sitting in another doctor’s office.

As a disclaimer, I don’t at all begrudge my family for this. I love sitting with my wife and daughter when yet another thing strikes. I wouldn’t be anywhere else. I know that if I am not there to advocate for them, they would be ignored or not believed.

A broken arm or a nail in the head is believable. You can see it. Doctors are good at things like that. We, my family,  never get those. Our are the diseases that they tell you about in medical school. One doctor said that he spent 6 hours in a seminar on it, and then they said, “But you won’t ever find anyone with that, so don’t worry about it.” But I digress.

My father used to tell me that my business is always with God. And that is where I wonder. I have questions and I want answers and I wonder.

I don’t resent my family. They suffer more that I do, and my heart goes right out to them and I want to just take all of this away. But I can’t. I see other people running and swimming, camping and biking. I see other people traveling and golfing and hiking. And I think those days are over for us. (This isn’t about fitness and essential oils, by the way…)

But why does God continue to inflict? Why is it one massive thing right after another?

So I cry out to him. I beg him for mercy. I want answers. But it seems as if he is so silent.

And then I remember that he isn’t silent. He answers the curse that is on the world with the cross of Jesus. God became flesh and took all of this on Himself. He laid it on his only-begotten son (these two sentences do not contradict. They resolve in the mystery of the Trinity. “The word was with God and the word was God”).

There is a curse on the world. By man, death entered and reigned over all. But by Man came the resurrection from the dead. United with Christ in resurrection doesn’t come without union with his sufferings. We are only just tasting that in our family.

Why? I don’t know. I know that we all are one aneurism away from the grave.

We are one virus away from death. One aortic rupture. One spontaneous colon rupture (which I’ve had, by the way – but God spared my life).

And then I remember that this world isn’t our home. This world is “under the sun”, what our forefather called “the valley of tears.”

So I stop. I look up. I remember.

(My daughter lost her ability to smell. She said, “That’s OK, Daddy. I’ll smell things in heaven…”).

I try to remember that but my heart hurts for her.

I try to remember that we will run and hike and stand and walk and sing in the new heaven and the new earth; I try to remember that I will run hand in hand with my wife through the hills in the new earth when our bodies are made new, and that gives me peace for another day.

And I try to remember that God’s grace is not promised to be sufficient today for everything he will bring on me tomorrow, but it is promised to be sufficient for whatever trial he brings me at the time.

My father told me once that worrying is useless. He said that everything he ever worried about never came about. I agree that worrying is useless. But it is a bit different for me. Everything I have ever worried about actually did happen, and worse. But worrying is useless because of the sufficiency of God’s grace and the fact that I am a creature, and do not hold the world in the palm of my hand.

I am still anxious though. I still fear. I still wonder. I still want answers.

And He responds as he always has, “My grace is sufficient for you.” And it is.

I used to think that this meant that he won’t give me more than I can handle. But that isn’t true at all. I have had more than I can handle over and over and over again.

And when I get another blow that I can’t handle, I want an answer. I cry out. I have no idea how to take a step or what step I should take or if this is the right way to go, or if I should just stay, or if I go the the ER again knowing that they most likely won’t be able to help or if I should not go and perhaps watch a loved one decline until it is too late and I could have fixed it but I trusted the wrong guy and what do I do now and I just don’t know………..

And then I stop. Breathe. I try to understand that it is actually too much. My life is not held in my hands. My wife’s life is not held in my hands. My daughter’s life is not held in my hands.

We are all one aneurism away from death, and that won’t change by any decision I make or fail to make. All I can do is the best that I can, which usually isn’t all that great.

There is so much I don’t know. And far more weeping ahead. I know that ahead there will be more suffering and more death and more pain and many, many more questions.

So here is what I’ll try to do.

  • I’ll try not to get involved in disputes that aren’t mine. I have too much already, and God hasn’t promised me grace to get involved in other people’s disputes.
  • I’ll try to remember that today has its own worries. The amount of emotional energy I have been given is limited. It is enough for my day today, my circle today, my family today, my congregation today. God will replenish that for tomorrow, for his grace is sufficient for me.
  • I’ll try to remember that “I will smell things in heaven.”
  • I’ll try to remember that there is not one person who cried out to God for mercy who did not receive mercy.
  • I’ll try to remember that God still sends rainbows.
  • I’ll try to remember that I’m human, and when it is all too much for me, that is OK. I wasn’t made to be a god. I was made to rest in the arms of another.
  • I will try to remember that the day will come when I will again say goodbye to someone I love and it will wrench my heart again.

And then I will breathe. I will eat some pie – but sugar free, my body still won’t cooperate with what I want to eat. But I will have great pie in heaven.

I will listen to some music and maybe find something new.

And I will continue to cry out, and continue to wonder, and continue to want answers.

But I will try to remember that God hasn’t promised me to answer all my questions. He has promised much tribulation, but after that we inherit the kingdom.

Until then,

Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.
  13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.
  (Eccl. 12:12-13)

11 Comments

Filed under Gospel, Grief, Hope

11 responses to “Perspective

  1. Bunkababy

    Sam, great post. You are able to write what we feel but cannot formulate into words.
    I am sorry the body continues to decline for your family. Yesterday I watched a video of an old friends childs funeral. A young woman of 26. Two young children under 5. She died of brain cancer after 15 months. In complete acceptance and peace.
    I will never understand how those people who love God go home so soon, and others like my child’s ex continue daily to abuse in horrific ways.

    Or my own existence since conception. Why? For what purpose? For me, life just means survival. It’s a waiting game. I have learned to enjoy what I can. The small plant that is so stubborn to exist despite trying to rip it out every year.

    This year I didn’t. I was too busy trying to survive, to make it through each day. I forgot about that dumb plant. Today I went outside to find despite the horrific heat it has bloomed glorious hot pink flowers. My favourite colour.

    I have no idea what this mystery plant is. I had finally come to grips with trying to fight the plants in this yard . To remain with them and see beauty and not invasive “weeds”. This yard must be a metaphor for life.

    Anyhow I appreciate your reflections. I pray God gives you guys the strength for each new day.

  2. Martha Gwen Sibert

    My late husband of almost 58 years suffered from a variety of problems, some being the result of Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam. Osteoarthritis came first, a long time ago, then peripheral neuropathy which alternately felt like he was walking on hot coals with walking on broken glass. Next came RA, so he hurt over his whole body even more than before. He was then diagnosed as having fibromyalgia by his rheumatologist. Then, along with all of these, he was diagnosed as having Parkinson’s disease,and he started speaking with a soft voice that made him hard to hear, he lost his sense of taste and smell which led to eating less and less until he lost over 70 pounds. Swallowing problems led to aspiration pneumonia so unless he wanted to drink “thickened” coffee or cokes which were really gross, that ended his enjoyment of those two things. I could go on and on. During all of this time though, he trusted in our Lord and said that even because he was in a lot of pain and was so limited in what he do do, there were a lot more people who were worse off than him. After being under hospice care for just nine days, he died on January 9, 2020. He is now free of pain, has clarity of mind and his soul is with Jesus. I still miss him something awful, but have a peace in my heart. I read your posts regularly although I have never commented before. Thank you for all that you write, especially this one.

    • I understand perfectly.
      My wife, daughter and I have struggled with a bunch of these, so we get what you are saying. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
      Thank you for sharing this with us.

  3. Helena Knowlton

    Thank you Sam for your openness about your health issues.

    I’ve had severe health issues off and on for the last 28 years (spent 10 years bed with chronic fatigue in my 40s and then 2 years after my divorce I almost died – was in a wheelchair and assisted living because of ulcerative colitis and autoimmune diseases.) I also have chronic leukemia, severe gut issues and food intolerances.

    Because of all this the vaccination won’t work on me and I have been quarantined since March of 2020 with no end in sight. Haven’t touched another human in all that time and only have friends visit outside. Those of us who are so compromised are truly invisible.

    I am so thankful for my work (Confusion to Clarity and my Arise Healing Community for spousal abuse survivors) because it keeps me in touch with so many women. And so thankful for Jesus who holds me close.

    Anyway I just wanted to thank you and let you know that I believe you!

    confusiontoclaritynow.com arisehealingcommunity.com facebook.com/confusiontoclarity Confusion to Clarity, LLC

    >

  4. Jennifer Bales

    Thank you for sharing this . You and your family are in my prayers.

  5. Anu Riley

    This was hard to read purely for selfish reasons. I hate to hear about suffering, and I especially hate hearing about people I care about suffering. I just hate suffering, period.

    When I am reminded that suffering exists, and it happens to people who exist, particularly people who exist that I care about, it causes me a form of suffering that is painful, though it’s NOTHING compared to what is actually being suffered.

    But I am glad you wrote this and I am sorry for my selfishness. I read it and I am glad I told myself to shut up and “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

    One of my favorite movies is “Roxanne.” We named our beagle Charlie but it must have been subconscious; the main character is also named Charlie and sported a large nose :-).

    It’s a comedy but not all of it was comedic. He was born with an unusually large nose that invited a large level of insults and isolation. And would any woman see past his large nose and embrace his large heart?

    His love interest is interested in a small nosed but small minded man. So he begs a doctor, who is also a friend, to finally cut that nose down to size, literally. His friend suggests: ever consider you were born with that nose for a reason? Charlie answers: yeah, like opening Coke bottles. He could not imagine that his nose could serve any real, relevant purpose in life.

    Spoiler alert! That large nose eventually detected a fire that NO other nose could have detected. He saved the whole town, not a BIG town, but full of people he loved and cared about. And his love interest fell in love him NOT despite his nose, but as a whole person: nose and all.

    I wasn’t surprised that your post got a LOT of positive feedback. People felt a little less alone, less isolated when you wrote about having rare issues that are rarely seen, rarely taken as seriously as they should be. I think I loved that movie because I understood that standing out from the crowd often separates you from that very crowd.

    When Shannon Doherty was diagnosed with breast cancer and she asked: why me? Then she asked herself, why NOT me? She understood that suffering isn’t limited to “others.”

    My health suffers, too, and I try to think the ways you have described. I keep failing. I keep declining. I keep suffering.

    But I try to think of it this way: I may be failing all my classes, but I haven’t been expelled. Keep going to class. Keep showing up for class. If God is willing to keep teaching, I am willing to keep trying. If He doesn’t mind a slow learner, I certainly don’t mind a patient teacher.

    • You have already passed the class, in Christ. You have already won the victory, in Christ. God will never let you go, for you are greatly loved in Christ – a royal priest, a holy people – a firstborn son, a dearly loved daughter.
      Instead of thinking of it as a test to fail. Think of it as a home to rest in.

  6. Having just left my daughter who had another surgery… and her son that is probably going to have… I’m glad to know they keep going! My grandson tells me his Mom is teaching him how to take care of his body. I remember her asking me, “Mom, how did you stand it?” I said I could stand it… I was on my face, and every which way fighting for her life…. nope, not standing! Blessed for the time with these heroes…

  7. Jayanthi

    I lost my mom 2 months ago to covid, she was 75, suffered with a lot of ailments and pain all through her life. I feel so sad and miss her but I also know she is now pain free and in God’s presence. I keep going back thinking what should I have done better for my mom to ease her pain or save her from dying, I keep crying out to Lord to help me not to get into this guilt cycle but God seems silent. Your article resonated with many of my thoughts on my mind right now. Thank you.

  8. Sandy Boyer

    Then there are those who I can never understand have zero empathy. How is that even possible for a Christian ( they claim). Using Scripture as a weapon to harm others. No remorse at all; please explain what is this called? Spiritual abuse, DV, lying, oppression, power over instead of power to lift up.
    All the while claiming ” entitled”, quoting “his god ordained right! “

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