You train for every conceivable scenario playing out when you’re a soldier so that no matter what hits you, you’ll have a plan of attack. Everything that takes training is like that. The more you practice the better you can take what comes your way. Sometimes its a championship came that comes with it pressure and urgency but also fame and glory. Sometimes it is battle where you must fight for your life.
When my dad was diagnosed with cancer I listened to him explain what would happen next over the phone from 2000 miles away. My left leg was shaking uncontrollably, my heart was beating out of my chest, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was a believer at the time but I didn’t know my Bible well. Not like I do now. And I was grasping at straws to be a good soldier in this battle. I was trying to encourage and give my dad hope but I felt so unprepared. It was only 4 months before he would be gone. And as it became more and more clear what would be happening I began to lose hope.
It was similar to how I felt at the end of my marriage. I did see the writing on the wall but I didn’t want to admit the end was near. I was losing hope but still fighting because I could only pray one prayer. In both situations only one outcome was acceptable to me. My dad needed to live and my marriage needed to be saved.
Neither one of those things happened. And I was disillusioned both times. But the difference between my dad passing and my marriage ending was about ten years of hardcore Bible study that gave me a very different perspective that allowed me to understand better the kind of hope God wants us to have in these situations where it seems like no one wins.
I think of the tragedy that unfolded in Aurora Colorado recently. There is no silver lining except maybe there is. Stories of men diving in front of the women they loved to take a bullet in their place is heroism. Stories of kindness in response to sadness. Goodness in the face of evil. It is possible to have very special unique blessings within tragedies. No one would welcome these blessings but they are blessings all the same. And these seem to come at just the right time to prop us up with an ounce of strength at a time getting us through the next second, or minute, hour, or day. It is when we use the people who God has placed in and around us to hold us up and help us along.
When something bad happens, I’ve learned that doesn’t mean that God has turned His back on you. He is still there. He’s just allowed pain in your life and pain comes to us all. We are not immune, not one of us. It will come. But it’s our training in these moments that we must fall back on. The prayers, the Scripture, the truths, the promises. Those things are like our manual that allow us to be focused and strong, even sometimes with moments of peace in the midst of terrible storms.
Sadness comes too. Deep mourning and sadness. But underneath that sadness is not despair because the true hope is still there. The true hope is the knowing that God is in control, loves us, and we are peace with Him and will be with Him in heaven.
My dear friend and colleague got the worst of all news today. He has cancer in his plasma cells of his blood. It is a difficult cancer to treat. It is not from what I read curable. He is very sick. I knew he was. He walked into a meeting a few weeks ago and the second I saw him I knew. I hate it when I’m right. He is in his late 50’s or early 60’s and he is a mentor to me. And I’m so sorry for the struggle that lies ahead of him.
I cried a lot tonight. But now is that time when I must not fall apart in a panic and allow my faith to get trampled by tragedy. No. Now is the time to pray for comfort, peace, effectiveness of treatment, for good days filled with much laughter and a recalling of memories, for a man who I respect and admire to accept the road that lies before him graciously but also ready to put up a very good fight. Because he has been trained well too.
I am very sad tonight though. If my kids were home I would give them extra big hugs. But instead, I’m here with you, typing away, trying to get all this out of me so I will be able to sleep.
Tonight I’m missing Harry in a different way than normal. My mind flashes forward to when we are old and we are holding each other’s hand after 40 years together. Still in love. Of course that is what I want. I’m not naïve enough to think that just because I want it that it will be guaranteed to me.
I only have today. And today is enough. It is already a gift. I think I’ll go lie down now and I pray fall asleep. Although thoughts of my dad keep coming into mind.