God is Good
Part of learning to care for a person with a chronic illness realizes that sometimes we need a safe place. We need a place of refuge. A Christian has such a safe place of refuge in God.
The same God who was powerful enough to create the heavens and the Earth and who could destroy the world with the flood in Noah’s day has a compassionate, kind, and charitable nature. God is an unquestionable harbor of protection to those who worship and serve him. He is good. Because of his goodness, the Believer is never ignored or deserted by him. God accepts, keeps, and preserves the Believers of Jesus Christ.
I remember Sunday, December 3, 2017, well. My wife had not been feeling well for the previous two months. It seemed to start in early October when she worked a week of nights doing a stock reset at the big box store headquartered in Arkansas. I recall her commenting that she usually didn’t mind working a week of nights. This time she lacked her usual energy.
We spoke after her first night of work. She said the bosses were messing up. Specifically, she mentioned they had printed signs that had left off the last two or three letters of words. She said when she mentioned it to them they acted as if she was crazy. Even as she insisted something was wrong with the sign, the manager on duty said they were okay and ignored her comments. She was told to keep working.
A week later she flew to Denver, Colorado for a week of rest with her two sisters. They met at her older sister’ who live in the Denver area’s home. Her younger sister flew in from Tennessee to join in the reunion. Miss Benita had made it clear my presence was not needed or wanted for this week.
While in Colorado, my wife got sick. It was her normal nausea, vomiting, and something new, a headache. She went to see a doctor. They just told her to take to her nausea medicine and let her doctor know about this spell when she returned home.
Once home the symptoms lessened. She did not see her doctor or call the oncologist. She had a PET scan scheduled in a few days with a follow-up visit to the oncologist.
She saw the oncologist in early November. The PET Scan was a body scan. It did not show any Melanoma. It only showed the other cancer she had, the neurologist endocrine carcinoid. It had not changed. She mentioned the nausea spell on her recent trip to Colorado.
The oncologist commented that while flying and high elevation caused issues in persons with brain tumors, her last brain scan six months earlier had not shown any cancer in the brain. He looked at scheduling a brain scan which after the paperwork, insurance company denial, resubmission, and final approval were scheduled for the week after Christmas.
Moving on to the Friday after Thanksgiving, my wife was now having severe nausea issues. She goes to an urgent care facility declining me taking her to the emergency room. They encourage her to see her primary care doctor and to call the oncologist to update him.
She feels better when Monday comes and decided against going to the doctor. “I can’t run to her every time I hurt or I would need to move in her office,” she says.
She is feeling better when home by keeping the lights turned off and the windows closed with blackout curtains. She mentions to me that my latest book “Thy Will Be Done: 60 Prayers for the Chronically Ill” wasn’t edited very good. She says some sentences aren’t complete and it just seems like words are missing.
I check and all is okay with the book. I ask if she is having vision problems. She mentions the signage at work from back in early October with letters and words missing.
I suggest we mention this to the oncologist and schedule an eye exam. We leave a message with the oncologist office and schedule an eye exam for later in December.
On Sunday, December 3, 2018, we attend Sunday morning worship and Bible study. She comments that inspire of the loud music it is the one place she feels perfectly calm. She comments the upset stomach vanishes at church. A remarkable peace seems to wrap its arms around her. She feels normal, well, and the heavenly hope engulfs her.
Thursday, November 7, 2017, she calls me from the doctor’s office parking lot. She has driven herself there from work. She needs help to get from the car to the doctor’s office. I dash to the parking lot which is just a mile from my house. She see’s the doctor. The doctor sends her for a CAT Scan of the head. The CAT Scan shows a large brain tumor. We go immediately to Presbyterian Hospital Plano which is a certified brain trauma facility.
The remove a malignant Melanoma cancer tumor. The managing oncologist tells me she shouldn’t have flown in October and should not have gone to high elevation in the Rocky Mountains. The size of her tumor leads him to believe she had it in October and being at elevation caused her spell in October while in Colorado. He said in getting records from her primary care doctor helped him get the total picture. Benita had mentioned vision issues just the primary care, not the oncologist. The oncologist said her flying and going to very high elevation probably caused brain swelling. Being at higher altitude caused her being sick in Colorado. The brain swelling reduced when she was back at a lower elevation.
Well, I could go on and on with what ifs. What ifs lead to regrets. Regrets can lead to despondency and depression. Please, don’t go down regret row. You won’t enjoy the journey or the destination.
The bottom line is as my spouse’s illness worsened it seemed that the only time she was in a state of nirvana was when she was in church, listening to Christin music, or reading or having Scripture read to her. I’m not saying what will work for you or your loved one. I am testifying to the Lord being Miss Benita’s stronghold and her place of peace and comfort.
Her experience also shows how difficult diagnosing and treating a disease can be.
Nahum 1:7 (KJV), “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.”
What the Verse Means
But though God is steadfast in his power, yet he is merciful, gracious, and beneficent in his nature. God is a sure refuge and protection to those who know him as their Savior, worship him, serve him, and put their trust in him. He knows and pays a regard to all such so that they are never overlooked or neglected by him. As such, God approves, owns, and preserves us.
Pray Using Scripture
- Heavenly Father I praise you for your goodness.
- Thank you for being my stronghold in the day of trouble.
- Thank you for never neglecting me.
- Thank you for your provision.
Responding to God’s Hope
- Are you going to the Lord God in your day of trouble and everyday?
- Remember to read God’s word on a regular basis. There is comfort in God’s word.
- Are you treasuring the days you have with your loved one? E the day good or bad, it is the only one you have. Enjoy the day. Enjoy your loved one.
Photo Source: Screen Capture of Facebook entry from December 3, 2017. Miss Benita and I were seated in the balcony at Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas. This was her last time in the building. The next time her body was in the building was for her funeral service on April 12, 2018.
This blog post is adapted from the forthcoming book, “Caregiving: A Biblical Alternative” by Jimmie Aaron Kepler, Ed.D.