Wednesday, January 17, 2018

WHEN THE ANSWER IS "NO"

(WARNING:  Long Post)

I have waited to make this post because I want to be real, not Ms. Super Christian or Ms. Poor Little Me but to relate my experiences and the outcomes with reason and the understanding God has give me.  Please know my emotions vacillate from day to day, sometime from hour to hour, even minute to minute.  Yet, when all is said and done, I think this gives a fair representation of what this walk has been and continues to be like.

In St. John, chapter 11, the story of the death of Lazarus is related, along with the pain and grief of his sisters, Mary and Martha.  Pain and grief are normal emotional reactions to loss.  Mary and Martha were not exhibiting a lack of faith or doubt, they were expressing their grief.  Jesus didn't  reprimand them, but lovingly reminded them of the truth about the death of one of his own.
 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord," she replied, "I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world."
St. John 11:  20-27 (NIV) 

Extreme losses in our lives can feel like death, whether we or one we love is dying or suffering in other ways.  When we understand the truth of death, we can find comfort in that truth because we know him and trust him, we understand that he is the truth and the life. Even the Lord himself felt the pain of grief.  In vs. 35, we find the simple phrase "Jesus wept".  He is not above our pain, but in it with us.  Through him, we find the strength we need to move forward.

In January, 2009, my husband died of complications of NASH cirrhosis and injuries received to his liver during a tragic auto accident in 2000.  Six months later, I learned I was also suffering with End Stage Liver Disease due to NASH.  I didn't know quite how to take the news.  My grief and pain from watching my husband suffer and die was still too new.  Now, I must face the fact that I was facing the same disease.

It took a while to adjust, but my doctors were encouraging and told me I could extend my life if I controlled the diabetes carefully and took better care of myself.  A meeting with my Hepatologist encouraged my sister and I that I had at least 10 years left and might be able to extend that by taking care of myself.

I had times of faith that seemed unreal, even to me.  On the other hand, there were times the gravity of the whole thing was seemingly more than I could comprehend, much less deal with.  How does one deal with something they can't understand?  The medical terms were not hard, it was everything else.  

Faith, family, prayer, doubt, anger, despair, depression, unbelievable support...so many emotions I can't name them all.  Sometimes, one a time and at others, all washing over me with such intensity sanity seemed elusive.  Ultimately, I began to understand I had to make some heavy decisions...life decisions...and I needed more than I held within myself to do that.  So I turned my heart and my attention to the Lord and there is where the truth became evident.

God alone is the giver and taker of life.  I have always said I believed that.  Now, my words had to be my walk.  I cried, I begged, I wailed in intense emotional and spiritual pain.  And then I found, as did the prophet Elijah, God isn't in all the noise and upheaval, He can only be found in the quiet, still voice.  

There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He replied, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too." The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.
 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
  1 Kings 19:9-19:13  (NIV)

So, I set about getting the diabetes well controlled and taking charge of my life emotionally, physically and spiritually.  It was not an easy journey, but the diabetes began to respond with vigilance and better attention to my diet, exercise and mental stress.  I have to say that those times drew me so much closer to the Lord.  I learned to trust him during the years from 2000 and forward in ways I never understood prior to those experiences.

Last year, a meeting with my Hematologist revealed that the liver disease had reached a point that made consultation for transplant an immediate need, if I planned to pursue that avenue.  Frankly, I didn't know if I wanted to do that or not.  However, I decided to meet with the Director of the Transplant Institute at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis, TN.  Those meetings and tests revealed that, not only was my liver in failure, but so were my kidneys and my heart.  He estimated my life expectancy at about 6 months without the transplant.

I know the plans I have for you
" declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future

Jeremiah_29:11 (NIV)

I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have quoted that verse to myself.  To know that the Lord of heaven has a plan for me is quite a daunting, yet comforting, thought.  When we get hold of that fact deep within our spirit, it changes us.  We sometimes have to be reminded, but if we have ever really set grasp on that understanding, it is a relenting comforter in times of trouble.  I now pursued that understanding in a way which I never had before.  To say you are ready to die is an overwhelming thing to internalize when confronted with certain death. 

I talked with my family and decided to pursue the testing necessary to be listed for a liver transplant.  I was assured that the kidneys wouldn't be problem because they commonly did a liver/kidney transplant on their patients.  However, an issue with my heart was revealed that put a sure halt to all plans.  After two heart procedures, Cardiologists determined that the two blockages were not significant enough to risk by-pass surgery with consideration of my liver condition and dangers of bleeding out due to low platelet counts.  The transplant team will not approve the transplant with the heart issue unresolved.

So, after a year of exhausting medical testing with astronomical medical expenses and frustrating meetings with doctors, the outcome is not what I expected.  I had truly come to believe that transplant was what lay ahead for me.  I confused my will for God's will.

 "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits 
to see whether they are from God"

1 John 4:1 (NIV)

  "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, 
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, 
though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 
yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
  The Sovereign LORD is my strength; 
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights..."

Habakkuk 3:17- 3:19 (NIV)


Sometimes, we want something so much that we get our will confused with God's will.  We have to be careful and be sure the spirit we are following is that of the Holy Spirit.  When we do, no matter the outcome, we can say with Habakkuk "yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.."

Now, I move forward and I live my life each day with joy, hope and comfort.  I am surrounded by people who love me and pray for me.  My family and friends have been extraordinarily supportive and willing to help in any way needed.

 "The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower "

Psalms 18:1 (NIV)

The Lord is my strength. He sends me angels to attend to my every need.  Sometimes, those angels are called family and/or friends.

2 comments:

sheila said...

I wish I had the words to share with you that are as beautiful as the ones I just read, but words fail me. I'm with you in spirit and praying for you always. I love you.

DJ Cole said...

I am still as blessed as always to read your words of faith and blessings. Your words have the power to minister to fellow believers in Christ. We all walk the same path. One that at times seems overwhelming and daunting. Other times full of rainbows, flowers, and happiness. We all need support from time to time. God blesses us in allowing us to help each other through. I am still your sister in Christ and will be by your side when you need me. I love you, Diane.