Joshua 21: 43 – 45 And the Lord gave to Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and dwelt in it. The Lord gave them rest round about, just as He had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies withstood them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hands. There failed no part of any good thing which the Lord had promised to the house of Israel; all came to pass.
There are days were it seems that we are surrounded by enemies on every side. Some mornings I open my eyes and wonder in trepidation what the day might bring. I choose to throw the doona back and get prepared.
I am learning that a simple, routine trip to the hospital for blood tests can be fraught with unexpected despair. Sam’s own anxiety is expressed in her attention to detail in getting ready. She is meticulous, making sure every strand of hair is perfect, her makeup is applied, and her clothing is accessorized. The last thing she wants is to look like someone who has cancer. She doesn’t want pity, she doesn’t want to be stared at, nor does she want to stand out in anyway. In spite of this desire, her unique beauty has people turning their heads. She is usually the only person in 12A or 12D who doesn’t look sick.
I, however, am aware of how sick she feels. I give her an ‘Ativan’ to dissolve under her tongue as we get in the car. I get ready the special plastic bag (that would double for a fabulous elephant trunk for Kindy dress-ups) in case she throws up. I check we have ‘Zofran’ to stop the vomiting, should we need to. Then I try to discern whether she feels like music, or conversation as we make the trip all the way through traffic to our destination at RNSH. Sometimes we drive in complete silence both wondering what the day will bring.
With each visit her desire not to leave home increases. The slightest change of plans unnerves her. It feels like we are facing the greatest battle.
I phoned Reid to meet us at the hospital on Friday. He had just flown in from Perth and was more than willing to help. He agreed to arrive at the hospital before us and organize a wheel chair to meet us. Sam’s little body has become incredibly weak in the last fortnight. She weighs a mere 44 kilos and can barely walk ten steps without loosing her breathe. So, Reid helped her out of the car to take her to 12A and I made the revolutions around the 6 storey car park locating a spot on the roof.
I tried to locate Sam and Reid in Treatment Room 1 but couldn’t see them anywhere so I asked one of the nurses where she was and discovered that today she had been sent to Treatment Room 2. Half way down the corridor I walked into Yvonne chatting to Dr Torie Pechey (my favourite doctor). They were discussing Sam and brought me into the conversation, expecting that I already knew today’s news. “So Clare, she’s thyroid toxic,” said Yvonne. “Oh heck!” I responded, “What’s that?” So Torie informed me that she didn’t know too much about thyroid conditions either but that she was doing a full investigation along with the other doctors and that Sam would be going down for a scan after her blood tests and seeing an endocrinologist that day.
I found Sam in Treatment Room 2 and discovered that Reid had left to take an important call for work on his mobile phone. Sam was unsettled; upset that she was in this treatment room with nurses she didn’t know. Armed with the information that we now had a long day ahead of us, I personally decided to relocate her to the other treatment room and get her on a bed. I did all this with respect to the staff, explaining to Nurse Meredith who was ‘in charge’ on Friday of my reasons for doing so and she was most empathetic. In fact, she even came and took the bloods herself and made sure that the curtains around Sam’s bed were closed so she could sleep until it was time to go to ‘Nuclear Medicine’ for scans.
Somehow the hours passed as they do at RNSH with nothing much really seeming to happen. My mind had plenty of time to grow anxious and uptight about whatever ‘thyroid toxic’ meant, while exhausted, Sam slept beside me. Then a suddenly a wheelchair and an orderly arrived to take as down for the scan. I didn’t really know what to expect until we were directed to wait in a cubicle for the nurse to come and inject Sam with dye. A doctor passed and introduced himself as the endocrinologist and that Sam’s case had been referred to him. “With all the information I have,” he told Sam, “it seems you have Grave’s Disease and after your scan you can come to my office and we will discuss how to treat this in a way that does not interfere with your chemotherapy treatment.”
Sam looked at me and her little bottom lip began to quiver like it did when she was a baby. “I can’t take it anymore, Mum,” she said. “My body just isn’t working.” The nurse came back to find us both in tears, obviously unaware of all that Sam had already been through, tried to convince Sam that it was all okay, just a tiny needle of dye and a 20 minute wait. The rest would be completely painless. “She’s been through so much,” I told the sweet nurse. “She isn’t crying about the needle. She has Leukemia and let’s just say she’s been through so much.”
After the dye was injected we waited.
Everyday contains small miracles. Friday’s small miracle was that my iphone internet decided to work even in ‘the bowels’ of RNSH and I quickly searched for the story of the widow from Zarepheth in the book of Kings. I had been telling Sam that I felt the way that widow must have felt when Elijah the prophet had come and asked her to make him some bread. I was feeling like God was requiring something so great from me and from Sam. Something I felt incapable of giving. In that moment it felt like I had given everything I had, all my faith, all my prayers, all my courage and now we were required to have more faith. “If God requires it, we must have it in us to get through this,” I told Sam. Then with tears in my eyes I read all of 1 Kings 17 including this part:
“So he arose and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her, “Bring me a little water in a vessel that I may drink. “ As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have not a loaf baked but only a handful of meal in the jar and a little oil in the bottle. See, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and bake it for me and my son that we may eat it–and die.” Elijah said to her, “Fear not; go and do as you have said. But make me a little cake of [it] first and bring it to me, and afterward prepare some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: The jar of meal shall not waste away or the bottle of oil fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.” She did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not spent nor did the bottle of oil fail, according to the word which the Lord spoke through Elijah.”
And so I said to Sam how just like the widow woman, God could use the little we have left and all we have left is the oil, which is His Holy Spirit and the flour, which is His word.
Then I read the rest of the passage about how the boy died after God had provided the first miracle:
After these things, the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. And she said to Elijah, “What have you against me, O man of God? Have you come to me to call my sin to remembrance and to slay my son?” He said to her, “Give me your son.” And he took him from her bosom and carried him up into the chamber where he stayed and laid him upon his own bed. And Elijah cried to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God; have You brought further calamity upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?” And he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, I pray You, let this child’s soul come back into him.” And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the [lower part of the] house and gave him to his mother; and Elijah said, “See, your son is alive!” And the woman said to Elijah, “By this I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.”
I explained to Sam that at first it felt like it was too much to bear when we discovered she had Leukemia and know we were told she had Graves disease but even though we felt like it was too hard for us, we serve a God in heaven who knows our frame, knows our needs and all we need to do is to ask and He will give us what we need. I told Sam I felt like I needed faith and was encouraged that the Bible tells us that our faith only needs to be as small as a mustard seed. I told her I was going to pray and asked her what she felt she needed? She said she needed joy. So then I prayed and God came and then immediately after I finished praying the nurse came to take her in for her scan. As she had the scan I ‘googled’ Graves’ Disease and I could feel my heart beating inside the cavity of my chest and being the melodramatic person that I know that I am I could hear it the tune of the Titanic singing “My heart will go on” inside me mind. It even made me laugh a little bit which probably seems weird.
We were in nuclear medicine having that scan for such a long time. Sam got a very stiff neck from lying down on that hard surface without a pillow and they kept stopping to ask lots of questions. Then they would go away and come back and ask more questions and Sam and I were both very confused about it all. Sam was calm and I also had a peace in my heart. I know that God has given me strength for this journey. I know that He has put the word of God within me over many, many years so that it would be my sustenance. Even though my heart grows weary, I put my trust in the Lord. He is my hope, He does not disappoint.
Though many enemies gather around me, The Lord will deliver them into my hands. I, like Abraham, will grow strong in faith, confident that He will do what He has promised. I know that God will give me grandchildren of my own but also spiritual grandchildren who will come to know God through my faith because in the face of all this I will not back down. I rejoice that when I am weak, He is strong. I rejoice that no weapon formed against me can prosper.
After much waiting we finally saw the endocrinologist. He was confused because she didn’t have Graves Disease though he was completely convinced by every single piece of evidence in the blood results and her weight loss and her heart palpitations that she did. She does have thyroiditis however which isn’t good but it will pass. All of this will pass. The Leukemia will pass, the thyroiditis will pass. My God will show that He is able to do for me what He did for the widow woman. He will put bread on my table and health in my children. They will live long lives.
Longtime ago when my leg was broken in a car accident when Jack was two, I had an encounter with God. He spoke to me in that season and said to me
Deuteronomy 30:15- 20
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
I believe that God promised that word to me and I stand on it today for my future and my children’s future. All the good things that God has promised me are coming to pass just as they did for Joshua. Though the enemy surrounds me, the Lord delivers them into my hand. Just as He did for Deborah and Barak in Judges 4: 14 – 15 God will confuse the enemy and he will abandon his chariot and run away on foot.
When we know God’s favour on our lives, He will fight for us. Even when we are overwhelmed we must remember His promises to us. God will go before us but we must continue to be obedient. In the Old Testament God used a woman called Deborah because she recognized God’s voice and refused to be intimidated by the enemy. We must do the same even now. No matter what comes against us. God is preparing His army. We must live prepared lives. We are not alone.
At the end of the day we went to 12A to gather our things and one of the nurses agreed to bring Sam to the patient pick up area in a wheel chair. I raced to the top level of the car park to get my car and in a moment I looked over the panoramic expanse of sky. The sun setting over the Blue Mountains was magnificent. A bright orange filled the sky accompanied again by the words of a song. (I know God has fun with me!)
I could hear Brooke Frazer singing :
As surely as the sun will rise
You’ll come to us
Certain as the dawn appears
Chains be broken
Lives be healed
Eyes be opened
Christ is revealed
I have decided
I have resolved
To wait upon You Lord
My rock and Redeemer
Shield and reward
I’ll wait upon You Lord
Let Your glory fall as You respond to us
Flood into our thirsty hearts again
We are not shaken
We are not moved
We wait upon You Lord
Triumph and truth
We wait upon You Lord
And by the time my car had made one revolution around the car park the sky was completely black. I sobbed, so thankful to God for showing me the sun, just in time.