About two months ago, I was confronted with an early morning call from my Mum letting me know she was in Emergency with my Dad with a suspected stroke. He had lost movement down one side of his body. It was one of those phone calls that you dread, but know that in life, you will get at one point or another. As the day progressed, and more tests were conducted, it was found that he had a lesion on his brain, with a fair amount of swelling that was causing his movement loss. Dad needed to be transferred to a larger hospital with a Neurosurgery Ward.
The week dragged on; an emotional roller-coaster. We were informed that the most likely outcome was that Dad had an aggressive form of Brain Tumour, which was why there was such a high level of swelling and why there had been no warning. It was tough news for us to get. We received countless messages of people praying as the community rallied around us. All we could do was wait until Friday when the Surgeon would determine what was going on in Dad’s brain.
As we struggled as a family, trying to come to grips with a future that had probable cancer treatment, I also wrestled with God. It was a week of wondering where God was when life was hurting. It was a week of knowing that God had allowed this for our growth and refinement. It was a struggle between my mind and my heart, where anxiety often battled alongside my faith.
In the waiting area of the accommodation where we stayed, there were some beautiful glass birds in china cabinets. The kiddies and I marvelled over them, with Little Miss pointing out how beautiful they were along with declaring that they would be dangerous to hold as they could easily break. I felt a bit like glass that week… fragile and aware of my humanity. But as I considered those glass birds, and the high temperatures that create such beauty, I thought of the fire that was besieging us at the time. Our life can be a bit like that glass. As life heats up, we reach points in time when we have to determine where our faith actually lies. Does it lie in our health? Does it lie with Doctors? Does it lie with our God? Once we work this out, we then go into convincing our head knowledge to filter down into our hearts.
The night before Dad went into surgery, Dave read Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
In this Psalm, we are reminded that we have seasons of rest in beautiful pastures, seasons of restoration as God leads us in paths of righteousness, and seasons of trials as we are faced with the fragility of our life and our bodies. But as we journey through these seasons, we can be confident that God is with us. He will allow goodness and mercy to follow us as we journey to our final resting place, where we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
On the Friday night after the surgery, we were given the wonderful news that Dad didn’t have a tumour after-all. Instead, he had an infection that would be treatable by antibiotics. It was a huge week with an amazing albeit unexpected answer to prayer.
Since then, Dad has been recovering with lots of rest at home. I have been able to drop in regularly with the kids for short visits and a cuppa and I have been so valuing his company! I look back and marvel at how God walked through with us each step of the way. But now, as I think back on the trial we went through, As I think back on the trial we went through (and Dad is only starting to come out of) I am comforted by the knowledge that if the outcome had been different, God still would have been good and he still would have been there. He still answers prayer and he hears the deep cries of our hearts that we often can’t even verbalise.
May you know the deep mercies of God, the comfort of his love and the assurance of heaven this week and in the weeks to come.