The lady in the bed next to Sam woke after surgery and asked, “Is there someone behind the curtain?” I pulled it across to introduce myself, asked her if she was okay and was there something I could do to help her. She wanted me to call her daughter.
“Of course I can.” I said taking down her daughter’s number and proceeding to call. Her daughter was grateful and arrived moments later. She had become anxious through waiting and I watched as they tenderly exchanged the gentlest of hugs. Annie just had her breast removed.
There is so much pain in the world, so much sickness, so much trouble. Often we don’t see it coming. A week before Christmas Annie got the news she had breast cancer. A week before Christmas! It doesn’t seem right. “It’s okay,” Annie said. “What choice do you have, you just get on with it.”
“You do whatever it takes to live.” I said
“They asked me if I’d ever had surgery and I really had to think for a long time.” She told me. Then she remembered that she never had but when her son was young he had a problem with his heart and they spent so many months in hospital that she felt as though she had actually had surgery before. I totally understood what she meant.
Sometimes the unexpected happens. Out of nowhere, trouble comes. Jesus said it would happen. He came to prepare us but when it happens its unexpected. Trouble happens to others doesn’t it, not us!
John 16:33 (New International Version)
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
So there we were, Annie with her daughter and me with mine when out of nowhere my own mum arrived. It was unexpected but lovely. My mum arrived in the ice blue cardigan that reflects the blue of her eyes. At 71 she is still a picture of loveliness and she stood back a little from the bed not wanting to interrupt the exchange between Samantha and I.
“Let’s go for a coffee and food for Sam,” I suggested since Sam was asking for burgers and chips. This amused us since the nurses were concerned she may have difficulty swallowing her tablets because her entire thyroid had just been removed.
As we waited for the food to arrive we exchanged gratitude. We didn’t need many words.
“Clare, her hair is growing back beautifully.
Clare, the sound of her voice. It’s amazing.
Clare, her hands, they are still. It’s incredible.
What a lovely view from her window.
What a fabulous, young doctor.
And oh this coffee is good.”
Gratitude filled our eyes with pools of water. I marvel now, at how much water the bottom rims of our eyes can hold before they spill over into tears. My mother’s eyes are blue like steel. They reflect her strength of character but yesterday they were an ocean and in that ocean the heartstrings of three generations began to float. Samantha was beginning to surface.
A year ago the enemy put her in a sack with the rest of our family. He loaded it with stones and dropped it to the bottom of the ocean from the highest bridge. We sank to its depths like a litter of unwanted kittens gasping for breathe. We didn’t see it coming, there was no prior warning, no signs of ill health, it just happened, trouble came. Jesus said it would.
We were packing away the tree, making new years resolutions, returning from holidays, spring cleaning the house, preparing for university, getting ready for work, expecting life to go on and suddenly we were drowning wondering how it had happened to us.
John 16: 1 & 3 “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you.”
Jesus warned us, he prepared us, he told us to abide in Him. Through it all he promises to make our joy complete. There is nothing that this life can throw at you that can separate you from knowing God, not sickness, not pain, not death, not brokenness. It is Him who paved the way before us, going through death so that we could be resurrected into eternal life.
The pools of tears in my mother’s eyes magnified the truth. God is faithful. He is always faithful.
I imagine her unraveling the string that’s been wrapped around her heart and her navel (you’ll have to read my last post) and placing it in my hands. Looping the knotted strand over my right thumb and baby finger and then another loop the same way across my left hand. In silence we play ‘cat’s in the cradle’ with our string passing it back between us. I loop my middle fingers one at a time to form to crosses and tramlines. She reaches in and scoops and folds the string until it’s on her hands again. We are united in our gratefulness, revering our God.
Deuteronomy 4:9-10 (New International Version)
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”
The string we pass between us is the strand of hope. It’s the power of the Cross of Jesus; it’s the thread that fell away when the curtain in the temple was torn in two. What the enemy intended for evil is being turned for good.
Luke 23:44 – 46 “It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.
Before His death only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies to offer blood sacrifices for our sins but on the day of His death He became the sacrifice on our behalf. He took away the cloth that made it hard for us to know who He was. He took our sin, our pain, our sickness and disease.
When Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
“The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin. Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
People ask me how I can follow Jesus after all that has happened to Sam. Why did I not abandon my faith? How do you cope with such a diagnosis? In the words of Paul the Apostle I write, “he who promised is faithful.” This is not the path I would have chosen but this I know. He still exists behind the curtain, He makes all the calls that I need. He gives me access to my Father. He holds me close, He kisses me tenderly, He shows me how to live.
The enemy tried to drown us in the sea of despair but we rise again. The power of the cross of Jesus untied the destructive knot that held us bound. Just us Jesus rose from the grave after three days, we rise again. We experience this resurrection power that He has made available to all. He came to our rescue, he delivered us, He is bringing us back. The circle of HIs love is complete.