Today I went to war. A simple comment made me feel shaky while on solid ground. Now it is after midnight and I have had to do battle with the Deceiver. “Dancing with the Devil in the pale moonlight” is a good line from a Batman movie, but I can assure you that the Devil will always try to lead and step on your toes. Seeking and clinging to Truth really can keep you up at night.
In about 45 days William the Conqueror will be done with the chemotherapy journey against leukemia. There will be a year of maintenance afterward, but the most challenging part will finally be over. We should be preparing to celebrate, but today I felt shaken. When I say we have spent half a year in here, some are stunned. Others say that is not long at all. 6 months in a hospital is a long time and 6 months in a hospital is no time at all. It can be the fight of your life or life as usual. When I mention our 6 month fight to those who have been here for years, it feels almost shameful– like I had a “Diet Cancer” or got away with a half marathon while they are on their second or third full Tough Mudder. Sudden feelings of embarrassment or the need to pay conversational homage sets in to those who ‘have it harder’. I can say “It’s NOT a competition!” all day long but believing it.. ah, that is another thing.
I returned to my room and felt voices of doubt swirl all around. Did we have it ‘easy’? Our family has been apart; our bodies and emotions bear scars and show what cancer does to families. Was my joy and increased faith in the Lord’s deliverance because I have it ‘easy’ and everything looks promising? Suddenly the words from the book of Job echoed. This voice was FAMILIAR.
“Does Job fear you for nothing? You have put a hedge around him, his house, and about him on every side…” Job 1:9
Knowing the Word of the Lord teaches one to know not only the Master’s Voice, but the Enemy’s. The Liar uses the same lies on us.
Comparison is the thief of joy. I have found that in communities of like-suffering, it can always be a competition. We broken humans will always determine a pecking order. When we choose to let our suffering become the cross we proudly bear ourselves, Jesus is not glorified and we are not sanctified through it.
A text message came in from a woman I deeply respect shortly after this incident. I told her that I was feeling a little shaky and she replied:
“Isn’t Satan so weird? Today I was feeling shaky because a good friend is getting a big fancy house. Praise God you’re only doing cancer for months instead of years. Carry that yoke as long as he says and then fling it to the nether regions! But being shaky isn’t fun, especially when you already know the truth.”
We can be shaky, even when we know the Truth. When we take our eyes off of it, we sink into the water like Peter. We become deceived like Eve. We become selfish. Instead of looking to the interests of others as Philippians instructs, we become interested in the look of others.
Have you fallen into this trap recently? Have you graded your situation against another? Have you been glad you aren’t as ____ as another person? Thanked God you aren’t like someone else? Been discontented with where God has you, especially when you feel he is leading you toward something great only to interrupt the plan with something terrible?
In the Book of John, when John the Baptist baptizes Jesus the Spirit of the Lord descends on Him and a voice declares, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.” After this beautiful ‘mountain top’ moment, Jesus is IMMEDIATELY taken into the wilderness to be isolated and tempted by the Liar. His lies are the same. Satan still taunts, “You can’t trust God to care for your needs.” (Make bread and provide for yourself). “You can have all you desire without God. He won’t give you what you want.” (Bow to me and I will make you ruler of all you see)
I confess that I am struggling and fighting. In this moment, I MUST do what God instructs and look to HIM and not at my surroundings. I must go to His Word. ” If God is for us, who can be against us?” “Be strong and very courageous, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!” ” Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
When danger comes, listen to the voice of the Shepherd. Strain to hear the call of the commander above the battle. The Truth will crush the Deceiver and the Tempter.
The beauty of our trials and temptations is that it become the testimony of our weakness. It doesn’t matter how long I battle or what we encountered if it isn’t a shadow in the Light of what God did. It doesn’t matter if one woman’s wilderness is another woman’s paradise if she encounters the Most High God there.
I have friends who have been in this hospital for a week. Their three month old son is being treated but will require another week of treatment. They are tired and want to go home. A week in here is HARD. It may feel more familiar after the 4th week or the 18th week, but it is still hard to be in a hospital. We have laughed and visited. They encouraged me greatly. I can’t wait for them to get home! Never once have I thought about them having an easier time– because I love them and I know how hard that first week was. I feel encouraged by their presence and thankful that we can endure something similar together, although I wish it would be over soon for the sake of their families. My friends, that is what love does. It is important to be aware and hurt by suffering. It is good to be grateful. Let us then encourage and build up, not compare and be deceived. Offer yourself the same grace.
Your testimony is your own. There is NO one like you who has encountered things exactly the same. Today I was shaken into feeling embarrassed of the testimony I have through this trial. What I can tell you is in the last six months I have learned to surrender. I have confessed sins, fears and doubts. I have seen the Healer at work. I have seen true encouragement. I have proclaimed my weakness and the trustworthiness of Jesus, the Lord. God ordained that 40 days in the desert was long enough for Jesus to be tempted. It seems God has ordained half a year is enough for this part of fighting cancer. Praise God! It certainly won’t get easier when we leave the hospital doors, but I can be assured of this– the Lord will be with me wherever I go and all that happens has been ordained or allowed. Serving Christ is not a competition.
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.” Revelation 12:10