Isn´t it uncanny how victories are so often followed by a quick, humbling defeat? Or how a ¨mountaintop experience¨ can be followed up by a huge temptation? Or how joy can so quickly dissipate with a sudden unexpected sorrow?
In this last week we have tasted a bit of that.
On the heels of good news - Jenna´s recent surgery, this movement forward, the ¨like-new intestines¨ and the creative ways the Lord spoke, came the devastating news for us of a friend´s death. Rebecca had been fighting at another local hospital here in Málaga for her life and so many of us were praying like crazy for her and her precious family. When she passed away, we were all shocked. She was only 19. We have been so sad for them, so numb at this sobering news. And in some ways, it rocked Jenna´s world.
Questions flooded all of our minds: What guarantee does she have that she will live? That she will actually be a cancer survivor? How does God decide who lives and who doesn´t? Which family rejoices and which family weeps? For the first time in this journey, she really came face to face with the fear of death.
When I stopped to think about it, it made sense. It´s not that her condition could not possibly end in death; the statistics for Stage IV gastric cancer survival are not encouraging. But the medical team from the very beginning has been going all out for a ¨curative treatment¨. They have believed from the beginning that she can be cured - but the treatment had to be aggressive. So we have all been relatively unafraid of death (not of suffering but of death). But when someone else your age dies, it seems to bring it into the realm of possibility again. At least the reality that there are no guarantees seems to rise up before you & taunt you.
We have prayed against this fear & talked openly about God´s sovereignty and people´s (well meaning but sometimes careless) statements about how ¨she will most certainly get well¨ or how ¨we´ll see how great this will all turn out¨. Well, who but God can say that? It´s good to stay positive - but not to use it as a form of denial either. I don´t know what it´s like to truly fear for your child´s life - I mean really, really watch them struggle between life & death. I cannot say how I would react. But right now I can say that Jenna´s life & health & well-being are in God´s hands and I cannot control that - nor can anyone else.
Last night she had a bad night. She was vomiting between 3 and 5am. They are doing everything they can to get her intestines moving at the same rate as the nutrition is going in but it is taking some doing & a certain amount of experimenting to find the balance. It scared us both. ¨What if this J-tube doesn´t work?¨ she asked me with tears in her eyes this morning. In those deep pools I saw reflected my own fear. We talked & prayed. But humanly speaking, we really are running out of options. We have to get to a place of stability with the nutrition. It seems like God is giving us an opportunity now for this...but, what if? What if it´s not going to work? What if the vomiting is going to continue?? These are thoughts that keep trying to haunt us.
These are giants for us this week.
So we choose to look to God, we pick up some small stones of life experience with Him, we make declarations of truth over her & her situation and we walk out to face them with only a slingshot full of mustard-seed faith. It doesn´t feel like much. Our hope is: these actions have scriptural precedent. May God help us focus on His ability in this battle & on His ¨perfect love (which) casts out all fear¨ (1John 4:18).
¨David said to Saul, ´Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine;
your servant will go and fight him.´¨
1 Samuel 17:32
Photo by: Sam UL