Monday, November 28, 2011

Suffering and Character

I've spent the last few months facing things I've never faced before.

I've been relatively healthy and pain-free most of my life. Awaiting sickness and pain as the only route to health is very different than anything I've ever experienced.

I feel less courageous than ever. I feel how out of control I am. How sick will I get next month? How bad will the radiation burn me? Muscle cramps, hemorrhoids, mouth sores, fevers, uncontrolled vomiting, or even heart attacks ... what's coming my way on the route to healing?

Shoot, I don't even want to face the pain meds. When the cramps and nerve pain were bad enough last month, they gave me Dilaudid. Young drug addicts may like dilaudid, but the waking dreams and confusion that resulted were unpleasant to me. Worse, Jerry, whose getting his last dose of chemo before transplant today, told me about the hallucinations he had on Dilaudid. He had an abscessed tooth during his first round of chemo, and they were giving him doses of Dilaudid 30 times higher than they gave me. He hallucinated wildly when they were doing so.

Don't feel sorry for me. Considering the route I've been on, I've been through very little. In the hospital, I've seen many people in worse condition going through much worse pain, much worse sickness, and much worse confusion. I'm just suffering through the specter of what's coming, and then only in the moments when I give thought to it, which is not often. My blood counts are coming up, and I have a month break to get stronger before they hit me again. I have only insignificant symptoms remaining from the chemo I've been through.

The only reason I bring up my fears is that I want to recommend an article that's on the Christianity Today web site. It's about suffering, and it is remarkably circumspect.

I hope that's the right word. I'm trying to say that this guy looks at suffering from many perspectives and with remarkable insight.

It's written from a Christian perspective, and it starts by using Jesus as an example. If you're not a Christian, do not get stuck on the first page, imagining that this is a dull sermon in print form. You have to get to the part about Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and also the firemen of New York.

That's not an article to miss.

As for me, I'm learning from my fears. I'm learning to trust in God in a new way, a much more out-of-control way. I shudder to think how much I've prayed in the past, then went off to figure out ways to do God's will for him. Worse, I wonder now how much I've confused prayer with ESP, as though if I concentrated, hoped, and empathized enough, then my prayers would be answered.

Today, I feel like a leaf blown in the wind. I am so grateful that spinal taps scare me so much. I praise God for those tiny taps on my spinal nerves that make me feel so vulnerable.

Those things have taught me to trust God. I would say that I feel "in his hands" more than ever, but "in his hands" seems so different now. His hands include the wind and the storm. It's not just when I'm comfortably cuddled to his heart that I feel safe, but as I tumble along in the wind with no control over where I'm going.

I'd like to say, "Though he kill me, yet will I praise him," but really, that's a terrifying thought. There's a lot he could put me through, very easily, and I don't have much confidence in my courage anymore. Today, though, I feel "in him" more than I ever have.

And I'm grateful to feel control wrested out of my hands and put into the hands of the one Steve Saint called the Master Storyteller. I hadn't known I still had such a tight grip on the reins.


  1. Thank you so very much. In my prayers.

  2. That was good....real good. Thank you.

  3. May you experience the fullness of what God is giving you. It is something that I often is not always "feeling" like you're in the heart of God, but walking with Him even though things are bleak. Thank you for your comment on my blog the other day, it really helped the post. I'll be praying for you today, thanks for believing in the spite of un-settlement. Love ya.