Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sometimes The Battle Doesn't Go As Planned

Scans. Tests. Procedures. Surgeries. Wait. Results. Come back. We need to talk. Let me show you this or these. It's spreading. It's not working. Let's try this and see what happens. I need a miracle and I need it now. Pray for me and don't stop. I can't do this. I have to do this. No more.

Words that strike fear and dread and terror in our hearts and make us cry in our souls and tremble in our bodies.

Words that people of faith hear and words that people without faith in God hear. We come in this world the same and we leave this world the same. Frankly, we usually hear these words the same. Faith kicks in or it bolts; it strengthens or this is new proof that there is no God. Whether or not we believe in God and turn to God, God believes in us and is there for each of us. And God is at work on behalf of each of us. We may not see it. We may not understand it. We may rebel against what we do see and understand. We may not like where our life is headed one little bit. But it's what we have to deal with and God is there whether we want Him to be or not.

He is there when we get those scans and He hears all those prayers that they be clean. He hears the prayers that the tumors be stable and not have spread or grown. He is there when we get the results and they aren't what we hoped for. That happens. God is not obligated to change what is happening in our bodies because we pray.

Many of us are at this place. Scans aren't what we hoped for, maybe even worse than we ever imagined. Those of us who aren't in this place right now know we can be any time.

And the scans aren't the complete picture either. There are all these symptoms that are indicative of growth and spread of tumors. There's the unbearable pain. There's the crippling fears and bodily challenges. This isn't how we imagined our life, this isn't where we want to be and there isn't any way out of where we are. No way out except the one door that seems to be looming.

And that's not a place we want to go either. There are many who are at that place of "no hope." Whether at home, in Hospice, or in a hospital, there are many who have been told those dreaded words, "There's nothing left for us to try. Nothing is working. We're sorry, but you need to be making plans for your final months and get your affairs in order. There's no hope." Whether the doctor actually says, "no Hope" or not, that's what is heard and that's what is meant. The medical community has nothing left to offer.

And we all know we will face that one day, too. But for now, today, this is where many are. It's happening. It's not changing except to advance. And God is here, too. Many will be empowered to keep fighting. And they’ll fight for a good while and some will prevail and treatment that didn’t seem to work will somehow kick in and tumors will start shrinking and life will take on a renewed and good quality. That happens, to be sure. 

But something else can happen instead. I’ve seen it and that is that God starts preparing a warrior to go home. The person starts cutting their ties with this world. They start making peace with dying. It no longer becomes appropriate to tell this person to “keep fighting, don’t lose hope, never give up.” As a matter of fact, those words become hurtful to warrior and family alike and are no longer helpful and appreciated. Death is coming, the transition is happening, and the “hope” of more life here on earth becomes “hope of heaven.” That doesn’t mean they aren’t hurting deeply! That doesn’t mean that they won’t welcome a miracle if one happens! That doesn’t mean they like what’s happening at all! But it does mean they see what they see and are trying to accept what they cannot change. We will, all, make this transition one day. This is their day.

So what do we do with this? For starters, we admit that we are powerless to change our circumstances. We can fight but we can’t make anything “work” for us. We are a people in a culture that tells us we’re in control. Melanoma throws us in a world that slaps us in the face with the truth that we are not in control and never really were. Then God steps in and slaps melanoma in the face and reminds melanoma that it isn’t in control either. God is the ultimate authority. He has the final say-so. And His say is always based on good, love, and what is best for us. He has eternity in His field of vision in a way we cannot have in ours, even if we are people of faith.

We have one understanding of life and death, particularly our own. We have one timetable and idea of how things should play out. God has an altogether “other” understanding, timetable, and idea.

We each get a lifetime. A lifespan. It may be less than a year. It may be more than 100 years. When a lifetime becomes less than what we deem acceptable, we can question and get upset. We don’t understand and we don’t like it. I know I don’t like it.

Isaiah 57: 1-2 tells us, “Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come. For those who follow godly paths will rest in peace when they die.”

We do care and we do wonder why. We have one idea and think we can handle anything life throws at us if we just get to live! Sometimes God looks at us and HE sees a future we cannot see and He says, “You need to come with me. If I let you stay, you won’t be able to handle what’s coming. It’s hard now; it will be far worse later and I don’t want that for you.”

Where there is life there is hope. But this life will have an end. That’s how this universe is set up. We are called to love our life and treasure this gift. We are called to live it to the fullest and fight to keep it when we have to. God NEVER tells us to give up hope. But the time does come when we are called to look beyond hope of life on this earth to life beyond.

Where there is Life there is Hope. Forever. When we get those scan results that are far worse than we can handle, when our melanoma advances beyond what doctors can handle, when our life is spinning out of control and there isn’t enough hope to handle what’s happening…Cling to Life, Cling to Hope, Find Strength for the days ahead to do what you have to do, Know Peace in your spirit, And hold the Hand of the One Who Is holding you and there you will find Hope everlasting and Life eternal.


(Note: this is also posted on Melanoma Prayer Center)