Being Crushed

This scan report is heartbreaking.

Heidi’s cancer has progressed everywhere: lungs, bones and most dangerously, in the liver. This afternoon they start Heidi on Taxotere. She is so brave.

Thanks for helping us get through this. This week’s going to be really tough, getting used to the bad news and also Heidi’s new side effects with Taxotere. — at SCCA.

-Joe
Scenes from Our Cancer Battle

I wrote about Joe and Heidi’s cancer battle about a week ago and extended the conversation in a “morning meditation” called Unavoidable a few days later. Today, Joe posted the latest “scene” on Facebook. It was devastating.

I suppose I could do a Google search on inspirational Bible quotes, but that’s not really “me” and I doubt it would really help. Throwing religious platitudes and the same standard Bible verses at people who are in agony is a lot like throwing a pail of water onto the Sun in a vain attempt to quench nuclear fusion.

It was almost four years ago when my friend Dale Stucker said good-bye for the last time to his beloved wife Cyndy. She had fought cancer for so very long, but in the end, it consumed virtually every system in her body. But by God’s grace it never consumed her spirit.

No I’m not anticipating the worst but it’s hard not to think about it right now.

It’s like my thoughts are a little gerbil in a cage running around and around and around trying to get somewhere and getting nowhere. I keep thinking “pray, pray, pray” but people “pray, pray, pray” all the time and other people still “die, die, die” all the time.

This is the part about God that’s really hard for me to understand. I know, I know. For the glory of God, right? Swell. Say that when you have a wife like Cyndy or Heidi who has been fighting a years-long, exhaustive battle and you absolutely, positively can’t do anything about it. Say that if you’re watching it all happen from the outside and you desperately want to help and you absolutely, positively can’t do anything about it.

So what can I do about it. Absolutely, positively nothing.

So what am I doing? I’m writing because that’s what I do when I’m helpless and ineffectual. For me, writing is like praying. Maybe when I’m writing, I’m closer to God than when I’m not. I don’t know how it works.

There’s only one other place to go and it’s been a place I don’t like to go. It’s not that I don’t like going to God, but this is a place where He’s big and scary and He might not give me the answers I want. So I suck up my courage and I walk down that long spiral staircase into the bottom of a big, dark hole in the ground where I can be alone, just me and Him.

Part of me wants to scream at God, “Just what the heck do you think you’re doing? Haven’t you been paying attention? She needs you! She’s dying! DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!”

OK, so maybe I’m going to hell for that one, I don’t know.

Another part of me wants to curl up into a fetal position and make myself as small as I can make all six-foot, three inches of me, and softly sob into the dirt underneath me, “Please, please, please, if you’ve got an ounce of compassion and caring for this woman, please, please don’t do this to her.”

Maybe I’m going to hell for that one, too.

If there’s one thing I learned from the book of Job, it’s that He who makes the Universe, makes the rules. You don’t talk back to God. But then, I never understood the book of Job, either. In the end, God gives Job back everything he lost, including new kids. Except it never explains that kids aren’t these interchangeable little spark plugs where one will do just as well as another. If one child, one unique and precious son or daughter dies, having another one does not replace the first and it doesn’t make the hurt go away.

So I don’t understand you, God.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. –Psalm 121:1-2

I’m not offering that to Joe and Heidi as some sort of comfort, I’m offering it as a plea to God. I know You don’t have to care, and even if You care, You don’t have to answer our prayers. And even if You answer our prayers, the answer doesn’t have to be what we want it to be.

There is an immeasurable, unending, limitless, infinite, gargantuan supply of human pain and suffering out there in the world and in here in all of our hearts. Just turn on the evening news and you’ll be flooded with it. And yes, I want it all to stop. And yes, I realize it won’t stop until the Messiah returns. And yes, I understand that bad things happen to good people and we just have to deal with it.

But You can’t stop me from lifting my eyes to the hills and looking for Your help.

The most poignant line uttered by Job through his long agony was, Though he slay me, I will hope in him…” (Job 13:15) In the end, when all of our enthusiasm and optimism and strength and even when our prayers are exhausted and we can’t send another syllable into the ear of God, we only have our hope in God’s presence.

In tomorrow’s morning meditation, I’m going to say something about God finally lifting His thumb off my skull and relieving the pressure, but although that is true in terms of one circumstance, the weight of God’s presence in a world where Heidi has cancer is pressing me to the floor, as the Shekinah did to Moses when it entered the newly constructed Tabernacle.

And like Moses and like the Priests in Solomon’s Temple, I am at once grateful for the presence of God and completely helpless before Him, unable to rise or even move.

And like the Children of Israel, gathered pensively with trembling at the foot of Mount Sinai, I wait for God to speak.

Please God, let it be good news. Joe and Heidi are buried under the weight of their sorrow.

Let the weight of Your glory cover us
Let the life of Your river flow
Let the truth of Your kingdom reign in us
Let the weight of Your glory
Let the weight of Your glory fall

-Paul Wilbur
Let the Weight of Your Glory Fall (YouTube)

Please.

 

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4 thoughts on “Being Crushed”

  1. I was awake at 3am praying for them…just imagining their plight in all of its physical, emotional and spiritual fullness overwhelms me…and I find myself AFRAID to pray, because the King of the Universe need not heed my prayers for the healing of this dear woman (and how will I explain that to myself? to others? and who am *I* to explain Him, anyway??)…and yet, I pray. With all my faltering, stumbling words and pea-sized faith…I pray.

  2. Facing…and I mean *really* facing mortality is facing just a bit of the enormity of God. It’s terrifying, and yet we dare not avoid Him or avoid prayer. This is what it’s like to realize just how small we are in relation to God, Allison.

  3. You’re more than welcome, Joe. But please tell me if you think I’m going overboard in writing about you and Heidi. I don’t want to be too much “in your grill,” so to speak.

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