Mid-night journal

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. ~ Philippians 4:6


This verse is an oldie, but goody (my brother Daniel used to say that as a small boy, and it still tickles me deep within to say it). Tonight I am up as the first pink glaze of sun appears in the pines out my bedroom window, heralding the end of night and beginning of another morn...up all night trying hard to put actions to this verse. It has been a night of prayer, a night of reading, a night of closing my eyes in near delirium and still the prayers flow and the sleep does not come.
How many times had patients sat there waiting for her to announce her decision after a similar moment of respite? Invariably the decision was based on science and statistics, a conclusion crosschecked and attained by logic. What a cask of horrors, she now thought, lies concealed in this moment of respite! Dontsova had known what she was doing when she had concealed her pain from everyone. You only had to tell one person and irresistibly the avalanche was set in motion, nothing depended on you anymore. Her ties in life, which had seemed so strong and permanent, were loosening and breaking, all in the space of hours rather than days. In the clinic and at home she was unique and irreplaceable. Now she was being replaced. We are so attached to the earth, and yet we are incapable of holding onto it. She was so used to taking personal charge of everything that even today she couldn't leave a single person without making at least a month's mental forecast. She was getting acclimatized to her misfortune. She examined, prescribed, and issued instructions, gazing at each patient like a false prophet, while all the while there was a chill running down her spine. These were the thoughts that plagued her and weakened her normal resolute cast of mind. She looked at one patient...they had given so much of themselves to try to save this quiet Tartar, yet all they had won was a few months' delay. And what miserable months - a pitiful existence in an unlit, unventilated corner.

It made Dontsova realize that if she rejected her own yardstick and adopted Sibgatov's, she could still count herself lucky. ~ from Cancer Ward, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, true stories based on his own 2 year battle with cancer in the mid-1950's

As the bleeding heart blooms in the spring afternoon sun, I contemplate losing a part of self. Not just figuratively, like last time, but literally this time. I agonize over the prayers I've prayed of willingness for cancer. I long for a different, easier way.

I walk around the house, and see the writing literally written on my walls...the signs that open the door for this kind of trial, let God in to tear things down and build them back in a totally different shape. I start at the front door, and the words flow in this order: with God all things are possible. As for my house, we shall serve the Lord. Love like there's no tomorrow. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Verses, sayings that reflect our intimate understanding in this marriage and house that this is only temporary. The suffering is temporary, the joy is temporary, the work is temporary.

What am I supposed to do with the fact that we are so far outside the realm of normal experience that most people are simply confused by our story? We have asked ourselves and each other times innumerable whether this is a wake up call. We still don't see it, if we are being woken to something...and that is so frightening! How much further might God push to show us what we seem to be blind to? And might it not be a powerful Evil that foists this suffering upon us? Might we have something in our future that is so definitely for God's glory that Satan might try to destroy it? And why, then, would God allow it? Could we really be a modern day Job story, a modern day David, hunted and oppressed and beaten and crushed? Could we share the sufferings - and deliverance and beatitude - of Paul, Timothy, Noah, Moses, Elijah, heck, all the prophets?

The next step comes Wednesday. I have surgery at 10:30 a.m. to remove the lumps. They will be biopsied for cancer, perhaps sent to a specialty lab if they come back one certain type...follicular, the type of thyroid cancer cell origin, and also possible in the breast. We may know immediately - and I may lose my breast on Wednesday, too. Or it may take weeks. But at least the lumps will be out, gone, frozen in liquid nitrogen and sliced and examined and done with. What follows is a big question mark that has me sleepless, petitioning, taking fear into my two hands and throttling it with Scripture. So many questions have no answer...but what to do? is not one of them. I simply pray. I plead. And I read.