It’s interesting to be the caregiver to someone with cancer. My wife has stage 4 lung cancer that has spread to her bones. Chemo and radiation and some surgery halted the progression for about 9 months but now it is back and more chemo did not slow or stop it from growing.
As a man who likes and is able to fix a lot of things, it’s been difficult at times, trying to research all the issues that go along with neuroendocrine carcinoma and find out the answer. Someone surely has the answer to fix this, chemo or radiation or surgery or something. After all if I have enough knowledge, I can fix this right?
Many nights I have not been able to sleep wondering if I “Googled” the right phrase could I find an answer everyone else missed. Maybe I can piece together a better answer than her doctor has. Maybe he hasn’t researched enough, I’ll help him. Maybe, maybe, maybe, the search is endless.
Everyone else has a way to help too, they send us articles, recommend a doctor that a friend knows, heard about a treatment that worked on a loved one. They really mean well, I probably would share what I’ve learned with others without them asking too. Why not, after all, I’m just trying to help you fix your problem. It can be overwhelming trying to get my wife well.
Well I can’t fix the cancer so I’ll fix my wife. I’ll get her on good medicine and the best diet and keep her healthy. I’ll make sure and get the best combination of pain relief medicine into her… I’ll make her crazy asking questions. Did you take a pill? Why not? What’s your pain level now? Do you want to try the pills at a different dosage or frequency; after all, I’m just trying to help…
She is tired. Tired of the pain, the nausea, and the constant questioning (help) from me, all of it, just tired. She longs for a sense of normality, a sense of things being “the way they were”, where daily life just flowed, teaching, shopping, family time, all the things that made life right.
To quote Patsy Clairmont “Normal is just a setting on your dryer.” As a pastoral counselor I talk with clients about life and many are looking for normal. They have created in their minds a picture of normal and are trying to “fix” their world, to have it be normal. God does a lot of work in my clients hearts and He often reveals to them that they are focusing on the wrong things, holding onto a picture that He never intended them to have.
Looking back over the last 2 years of life it could be easy to second guess a lot of decisions that were made about my wife’s cancer. Why didn’t the first doctor know what was wrong? Which doctor should we go to now? What hospital system should we use? Did we do the right treatment plan? What if we had done something different, better? What if… fill in the rest of the question for yourself. It’s as if we go back and try to figure out what we could have done differently so the results would be different because we don’t like the results we have now.
My main thought has been “God, where are you in all of my questions.” I wake up at 4 am most days and start talking with Him, asking Him to show me the Bible story that relates to us in this journey. Then I spend some time listening and He answers me with some really cool thoughts.
Usually, just like Jesus, He asks me questions like:
- What if I knew every decision that would be made before you did Gary?
- What if I know how many days you and your wife have on earth, before I call you home?
- What if I am asking you to walk through this and trust Me as you walk?
- What if My Spirit in you guided your decisions about doctors and hospitals and plans?
- I know you want your wife to be healed; will you trust Me with that?
- I know she is in pain; will you trust Me with that too?
- Will you trust that I know the “big picture”?
Maybe, I reply, I would trust you more if you explain it all to me first. Just tell me the plan and I’ll go along with it, or maybe I could offer some suggestions for an improved plan, after all I’m a good fixer.
Jesus was asleep in the boat while a storm raged around it. There was so much water coming into the boat the fisherman knew they were doomed. I would have woken Jesus up and said “hey, grab a bucket and start helping!” The question that is recorded in Mark 4:38 is an interesting one to me. The disciples, fisherman, woke him and asked “don’t you care that we die?” You see they knew boats and water and storms. They knew that it looked hopeless, that they were going to die. What they didn’t know was Jesus and who he really is.
This is what I am learning, both from counseling others and my own walk with my wife on her cancer journey. Storms of life are about trust. They really do reveal to us, not God, who or what we are trusting.
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Faith is trust and trust is faith. God is asking us to stop, look, and listen. In what or whom do we trust, really?
Think of it like this, we have been given a “spoon of trust”, go with me, and it’s ours to give to whomever we want. When a storm of life shows up, grab your spoon and hand it to the person or thing that you are going to trust to get you through the storm. Or maybe just hold on to it because you don’t trust anyone except yourself.
To finish, I want to go back to the thought about normal. What I think we really lack is a sense of peace. We are asking God, “don’t you care if we die?” we are filled with anxiety, stress, and anger, we hurt. We lack peace and yet we hold tight to our spoon or hold others responsible because we gave them our spoon.
I have taken my spoon back from Google and have given it to the Father. I trust Him, I don’t need Him to reveal any plan, and He doesn’t have to explain Himself. I know He loves me and my wife and is working in our everyday lives to reveal that love to us. And that my friend is Peace!