I knew today was coming. As they say, “If it keeps on raining, the levee’s gonna break”.
The process of William’s chemotherapy is “easier” due to his Down Syndrome; less medicine is required in his system to receive the same result as a typical individual. However, it is still difficult. During the first week medicines were administered non-stop. He was in pain and nauseated, had tummy issues and was generally exhausted. Now, during week two and three, his white cell counts are dropping and his immune system is tanking. He will be lethargic and just not himself. He has a loss of appetite, seems ‘dazed’ has had some significant tummy explosions at night that warranted 4 new sheets and 3 wardrobe changes in 7 hours. He is still trying to play and stay active, but he is not smiling as readily and is generally moving more slowly.
After another semi-sleepless night and watching my beloved son struggling, I learned that my older son, whom I have seen less than 12 hours this week, is struggling to sleep and is exhibiting the usual behaviors as when my Hero is gone. It broke my heart.
Here he is, modeling a new hat sent for when The Conqueror loses his hair. He is very into hats right now, so we may need to buy another one in a smaller size!
I was on empty by noon. As The Conqueror struggled into a nap I turned to The Word for comfort. My pastor is preaching through 1 Peter and his latest two sermons have spoken directly to my heart and circumstances. The sermon before beginning this journey was on 1 Peter 5:7: “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” This Sunday continued, “Be sober-minded, be watchful, for your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
I opened to 1 Peter 5 to get a sneak peak for Sunday’s sermon…
9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
I’ve said for years and I will repeat now: One of Satan’s best lies is that we are alone in what we are experiencing and feeling. Isolation is a favorite tool of his.
Shortly after reading these words I sat in the quiet of the room and heard my heart’s levee break. I haven’t cried yet through this whole experience but today I sobbed. Fun fact: I am an UGLY crier. Trying to blow my nose quietly so Will can sleep is like his attempts to have explosive diarrhea quietly at 3 am…it just doesn’t work.
There is one practice that I have gained from this trial so far that will be life-changing for me; the practice of physically getting on my knees and bowing before God. That physical humbling changes everything when crying out to the Almighty Father and puts my heart in the right posture before the Lord. I WEPT. I wept over my inability to protect and care for both of my sons simultaneously. I wept over my physical weakness. I wept over the fact that our family will never be ‘normal’. I wept over missing the love of my life and my frustrations on not knowing what to ask for. I wept from the pain of it all, declaring to the LORD that eternity will be sweet but my flesh feels like 80 years is a long time to be in pain.
I pictured the movie representations of the gospels of Matthew and John in which Jesus heals the disabled and overturns the tables in his temple. Jesus is not powerless. Then I considered when Jesus met the mourning Mary and Martha who had lost Lazarus, his friend and their brother. Jesus wept. He knew Lazarus would be the life of the party in an hour, but the Lord God wept. He cares for me. He cares about William.
I strongly believe in praying scripture and in telling God just who he is and what he said. I reminded him that he said he is close to the brokenhearted and declared that I am brokenhearted. I begged for help. I am in pain physically, emotionally and spiritually. I know many of you are too.
The thing is, we aren’t the only room on this hall. Each door represents a family struggling with cancer, tumors, severe illness and difficulty. Many of us are fighting. The same kinds of suffering are being felt by the brotherhood (and sisterhood). Helplessness, anger, fatigue, frustration, desperation… we are an army facing the same Enemy.
If you are at war and not suffering, actively counting the cost, I submit to you that you are not actively engaged in the war. The Enemy is crushing my child with cancer and I am not able to do anything more than I am right now. I’m learning that submitting my will, my life and my children to Christ is a daily -and sometimes moment by moment- discipline. It hurts. There’s no evidence of prosperity gospel in my life, I can assure you.
Take courage, my friends. Read on into verse 10: And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will HIMSELF restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
Furthermore, he can do that for William the Conqueror.
Yet with the eternal perspective that this is what my LORD demands of me and that He HIMSELF will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish me for his glory, I am sustained.
Great faith is built by great trials. I’ve been encouraged lately that many of you are sharing your burdens with me as well so that I may pray for you. It helps me to feel like part of the brotherhood. When you don’t share your burdens because “it’s nothing compared to what you are going through”, it leaves me isolated. Allow me to pray for you. Let’s be battle buddies so we can encourage each other. Let’s fight together. Only God can get me through this. There is NO way that I can do this alone.
God is near to the broken hearted. He hears the parents who weep for their children. He heals and raises to life. He conquered death. He is big enough to handle my grief– and yours too.
A hero is always close by and coming soon.