I’m not someone who hits rock bottom easily and I don’t let others get me down too often either. So I knew that being so flattened by the events of the week was serious. There were times that week where I berated myself for being so cast down. I worried myself at a point where I honestly thought about giving up. My outpatient appointment with the physio held out some hope, but that hope was difficult to cling to when there was still so much up in the air and still so much that was left unresolved. And what was compounding the situation was that the health issue, which was constantly causing trouble, never going away, was not being sorted out or rectifying itself. It was making day to day life really quite gruelling. I not only felt down emotionally, but physically, my whole body felt like it was slowing down, almost coming to a grinding halt. But outwardly, I had to keep going and for reasons I cannot make public at this time, I had to look like I was keeping on going as well. After that outpatient appointment, where the physio talked me through the nerve damage, I opened my emails to do some sorting and to get some tasks done while waiting for my brother to pick me up from the rehabilitation hospital. I found in my inbox a new blog post published that day from a family whose youngest son had been recently diagnosed with a brain tumour and who had undergone two surgeries since. He is just three years old. Each day I’ve been reading and praying through the updates, one of the great privileges of sharing the kind of fellowship that oceans cannot divide, and the courage of this three year old is humbling. This is an excerpt of the email I read that afternoon,
Today was Amos‘ first day of radiation treatment. Thank you to all those who prayed for us as we took this important next step in this process for Amos. We began the day with an early morning ambulance ride across the street to the treatment center. Amos seems to really like the ambulance ride and seeing the palm trees. He didn’t seem too thrilled about radiation but I think he’ll get used to what Daddy is calling “our new routine”. Every morning we will trek across the street for his treatment. Each session shouldn’t take more than 2 hours, with transit and recovery taking up the majority of that time. Amos will have to be put to sleep for each session but the anaesthesia used is light and wears off quickly. This is what we’ll do the next six weeks- not sure how long we’ll be in the hospital still but for now, we are here…
Amos did a really great job in therapy today despite his busy morning. He is a tough guy with some strong determination. The therapists said that his head and trunk strength is improving significantly. It was so sweet to see him playing with toys and following commands today even when we all knew he was so worn out from the day already. I love seeing Amos persevere and be diligent in the face of so much hard work. I’ve also been impressed with his decrease in frustrated episodes. We are thankful for that and pray it continues! He’s also showing signs of laughter on occasion- silent laughter but laughter all the same. We can’t help but be thankful to see Amos taking pleasure in things.
Reading this gave me the kick I really did need. And no, I’m not being too hard on myself. Here is a three year old showing more perseverance than I had and in a much more difficult situation that I find myself. I found myself rebuked. I was giving up too easily. I was losing heart too hastily. But the update didn’t finish there. Amos’ dad, who wrote the post, then quoted Psalm 103:2-5,
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
I didn’t need to read the quote to know what it says. I have worked countless times with this psalm. Perhaps that was the problem, I’d become too familiar with it. But that afternoon I was struck by a very basic and simple fact, which is that this God whom the psalmist is blessing is my God. I know the way in which God deals with his people; he does forgive and heal our rebellion against him, he does redeem our life, he does satisfy us with what is good. And, in Jesus, this is exactly what God has done for us. Amidst so much uncertainty about what will happen tomorrow, the next day, and the next, what the words of Psalm 103 caused me to remember that afternoon is that the benefits I have in Christ are certain and they are a reason to have joy, not to be anxious. Mulling over this in the hospital reception, my mind started recalling the words of another psalm that I had memorised only weeks before,
I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Again, rebuked. I needed to be reminded that my help comes from God, that the only way to move forward through such uncertainty about the future, about the extent of the nerve damage, and how much I will recover, is to lift up my eyes to my Lord and my God because help comes from him, ultimately. For the first time in days, the anxiety that had been coiling itself around me, ready to choke, disappeared. I still felt down, grief is still a right response even with my beliefs and convictions, but no longer was I anxious. I let go of my frustration about what had not been done and I let go of trying to cling to what needed to be done. Physically, I was still in a bad shape; that didn’t change. I did something that I should have done from the Saturday; I went to my iTunes library and started playing the Sons of Korah album ‘Rain’. And I spent the following days, days on airplanes and days in hospital, soaking in the psalms.