Saturday, October 26, 2013

v36 The Fruit Flies of Doubt

"There's another one!" I thought to myself, Kleenex box in hand. I was on a mission to annihilate the latest fruit fly lazily flying around our kitchen.

They were tormenting me. Laughing, even.

It was by the time I missed the third fruit fly I saw that morning that I caught sight of a fourth. I thought I would never win because they just kept cropping up, day after day.

It reminded me of the questions swirling around in Ryan's head, after passing the two year mark for Ryan's symptoms:

"Why does God allow suffering?"

"Why is this happening to our family?"

"Why does this Cancer persist?"

Questions without answers.

                                                  _____________________________

We read in the book of Job, seeing that God allowed suffering for one of His faithful servants who didn't "deserve it" and likewise read of the suffering David experienced and lamented about in the book of Psalms, even though it seems like he did.

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to why it rains "both on the just and the unjust," as it says in Matthew 5:45 except that we should be an example to those who have no hope in an unfair and unrelenting world who are going through the same circumstances we are. We should be shining the light of Christ, in the midst of our dire circumstances, to glorify God's name.

Isn't there another way?

                                                 _____________________________

Jesus asked for His cup of suffering to be removed. He knew His hour had come, and also knew He was alive for that hour. In John 12, the Bible says:

27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.”

The Bible says that Jesus Christ suffered and died a death of the most gruesome kind there is, enduring what others could not - to save the world, all of mankind from the beginning to the end of time, from their sins.

Why did it have to be that way?

                                             _____________________________

I wish I had answers as the fruit flies of doubt swirl around in Ryan's mind. I want to kill them with Kleenex boxes, like the ones that died in my kitchen. Instead, I have to point Ryan to something different because they aren't mine to kill.

Many others and I have offered book titles to help answer these questions. Ryan has read his Bible voraciously, along with many different book titles like Anne Graham Lotz' Why? Trusting God when You Don't Understand, Randy Alcorn's If God is Good...Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, You'll Get through This by Max Lucado, Life Without Limits by Nick Vujicic, Philip Yancey's Where is God When it Hurts? , Overcoming Doubt: Learning to Live by Faith by Neil Anderson and When God and Cancer Meet: True Stories of Hope and Healing by Lynn Eib. He says they are all pretty good. Although they aren't answering his questions fully, they are part of a continuing dialogue from those who have experienced trials and point him to have hope for the future in this life and the one to come.

Plus, it gives Ryan food for thought when he talks to the Creator of the universe. As well as little old me.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

v35 Merging Lives

"No, I don't think you're supposed to go that way," I told Ryan as he drove on a two lane road through a beautiful grove of trees that seemed to take us away from our destination. We were searching for the road that led us to the church where our friends were getting married.

We were lost.

Eventually we found where we were looking to go, but not before we pulled over to the side of the road and took some pictures. Instead of my usual M.O. of getting angry and frustrated that we were going to be late, I decided to relax and enjoy our little detour.

We arrived within plenty of time to relish the time we had with our friends, who shared their first kiss (after five years of dating) in front of their wedding guests. It was a special moment, watching the blushing bride as she merged her life with her new husband. Later, we also enjoyed catching the bouquet and garter because we took it as a sign of things to come, even though we had only been dating six months.

************

The other day I was reflecting on our 10 years of marriage, as I was driving on the freeway. It was five lanes wide and as I looked on each side of me, there were many people moving in the same direction as I was, but I would never know them or meet them. It reminded me of life.

I thought about how our relationship was encapsulated in a car, and we both started off driving separately. Then, we each took a trip to Saddleback Church, and we left hoping that we would someday jump in the same car and drive through life together in a vehicle for just us. On November 1, 2003, we did that.

As we drove down the freeway, we stopped along the way at many expected destinations, but some of them were shockingly unexpected. A few months after our marriage, Ryan took an exit from a large company to work for a small start up, which has not been an easy road. Then I took an exit from my previous career to drive down the road to become a teacher, starting school all over again, while trying to find a job in a difficult job market. Then five years later, with lots of planning we moved from our Irvine condo into our beautiful Corona home in May, 2008. Later, we picked out our puppy, Bean together at the local Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center in May, 2010. We stopped at the infertility clinic and drove down that freeway for six years until we were allowed to exit and pick up our newest passenger, Talitha Rose, on February 29, 2012.

But the Cancer on-ramp and the one lane road we've had to merge onto and subsequently drive on for the past 19 months has been the most difficult part of our journey. We are searching for the exit that allows to go back onto the healthy freeway, but haven't found it yet. Since Ryan has been taken off of the clinical trial he has been on during the entire trip, it feels like now we're driving without GPS or a smart phone.

Where is this journey headed?

                                                                     ************

13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because[a] narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

As I was meditating on this text in Matthew 7:13-14, or rather, pondering it heavily, I thought about how it applies to our recent life detour. 

With Cancer in our lives, all endeavors have become narrow. We are selective with our actions, activities, and attitudes. 

We are down to two weekends a month that allow for free time and during one of those weekends, Ryan wants to just "relax" and do nothing. Ryan is tired after working during the day and doesn't have a lot of time in the evenings anymore. But we have learned to adapt by enjoying time on the couch together and relishing the few hours we have before putting the baby to bed together and reading or relaxing afterwards.

Then recently Ryan got sick with an infection and the flu virus, which landed him in the hospital two different times in the same month. He doesn't want to be there every time he gets a fever. He doesn't want to be sick anymore.

Life with Cancer is difficult.  

But Jesus says it's the difficult way that leads to life. 

Wait, what?

While we have been merging our lives deeper in the Cancer journey, and our marriage in the sickness part of "in sickness and in health," we are being led to life by Jesus. 

We don't know when or how this Cancer journey will end. But I am glad to be in the car with my best friend, my husband Ryan, and my cute kid, Talitha, traveling toward life and our ultimate destination: Heaven.