These halls are quiet on a Sunday morning with only the sound of monitors to echo in the silence of large emergency room.
Not this again. I am tired of this place.
It’s been a while since I’ve stood here, and yet it comes right back as if it were but a minute past. The too quiet of suppressed discomfort and fear, the too still of exhaustion, all mixed into the smell of sterility and latex.
“Are they going to do anything that hurts me, Mom?”
“No, son.” I hope not, son.
Chase is seven now. He’s five whole years past the first minute we heard the awful words “There’s a large mass”. He’s five whole years into his aggressive, malignant brain and spine tumors and his eye problems and his heart and hearing issues, and every other issue that seems to walk hand-in-hand with that cancer word.
Every time he is wheeled into the MRI, the news comes that his status remains “No Evidence of Disease”, but the magnetic resonance can’t quite pick up on the evidence of pain, suffering, brokenness, and exhaustion.
This Sunday morning, the rest of the family is at church and Chase and I, we sit in the darkened ER room not because he’s had a seizure, or a relapse, or even a headache. Oh no, we sit in this space because his face is swelling and it needs to be stopped. The doctor explains in matter-of-fact tones that the airways are crucial and swelling is sometimes bad for breathing.
And my balding boy’s face swells and grows some more against cheeks tinged pink with fevers because when you’ve had ten different chemotherapies and radiation and everything but the kitchen sink thrown at your body when you could barely walk, well, sometimes your immune system decides to go A.W.O.L. over a cavity. One little cavity that goes rogue and becomes an abscess and then suddenly we are sitting in the ER on a Sunday morning instead of going to church. Again.
I want to fight it. I don’t want this to be how the day goes.
And yet, isn’t this the way of it all too often when it comes to life and cancer? The big things are sometimes the easiest to accept because they just straight-up rob you of breath and heart beats and feel so inevitable in their “bigness”. It’s the little things like the port that occludes, the eyelashes that fall out, the random side effect or the ninety-seventh time to the ER that just wastes away at my patience and my faith. The little foxes in the vineyard of the faith marriage between my Savior and me [Song of Solomon 2:15] are beeping monitors, sticky IV needles, and the nurses who say “Okay, we just have one more set of questions for you here.” Make it stop, please Lord.
So many times I have prayed to be delivered from the awful repeat of the hospital day. So many times the answer is no. And quite a handful of times the answer is no and there’s more.
So many wild cards…
And yet, here’s the thing and don’t miss it…
Jesus is in charge of the wild cards. In truth, the wild is not wild to him. “To [God] the night shines bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” It only looks upside-down and inside-out to us.
So where do you go when it’s the ninety-seventh hit in a row on your patience and faith is feeling really thin and worn?
I’m so glad you asked. Come sit in the ER with me – in these uncomfortable chairs – and we will review what we know to be true. Because I need to hear it again…and maybe you do too?
God is good even when He doesn’t do what we ask: “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness’.” [2 Corinthians 12:8-9a]
God sees things we cannot see: “Now we see things imperfectly like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely just as God now knows me completely.” [1 Corinthians 13:12]
God is for us: “The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” [Exodus 14:14]
And here’s why I lay these verses down again and again even though they hold no help for radiation-rotten teeth, and no cure for a 7-year-old desperately broken by a tragic disease. Here’s why: because I may never get the answers I want on this side of heaven. I may never see the healing I desire, the miracles I crave, and the next time I pray not to go to the ER, there’s a very real chance that I could end up with Chase admitted instead – because this is the way of the cancer world: two steps back for every one slow shuffle forward.
But this: God’s words are sharper than the sharpest scalpel and cleave through everything that holds us back from his love. And God’s promises are more tried and true than the best treatments the cutting edge of research has to offer. And sometime, someday, though the hair might fall, and the skin color fade, this word of the Lord is forever and ever, AMEN.
In Christ alone, our hope is found.
So wherever you are this week, whatever you’ve asked to be released from, whatever you just can’t possibly do one more time, actually, YOU CAN.
“For when I am weak, then I am strong”…IN CHRIST. [2 Corinthians 12:10]
Thank you so much for stepping into the ER room with me. Until we step into the throne room of our precious Jesus, and I get to meet you, we will take this life as it comes in grace… moment by moment.
TODAY’S GUEST BLOGGER is Ellie Poole Ewoldt, a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. Her days are spent in the craziness of caring for four little kids, one of whom is a cancer survivor. www.chaseawaycancer.com