Suffering and Sadness During Christmas – part 5

Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010

I recently confessed and pleaded:

“Cheryl, I need you because God is not finished changing me  . . . you have been the main instrument of my sanctification, please don’t go.”

Psalm 71

Be to me a rock of refuge . . . Rescue me, O my God . . . Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent . . . O God, be not far from me: O my God, make haste to help me! . . . O God do not forsake me until I proclaim your might to another generation . . . You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again.”

Sanctification, change, metamorphosis, transformation, alteration – when Jesus changed our hearts to love him more than our sin we were so happy. That’s what these words mean and what God means to do to us – change us from acting like our fallen nature icon – Adam, to our risen nature icon – Christ, the new and perfect Man.

One of the fears that God troubled me nightly in THE SERENITY ROOM was my sanctification. It was a double-cross, as if God were playing with a stacked deck against me and no matter what I did, he was going to burn me at the table; I was set up for the swindle. If God takes Cheryl then he takes away The tool by which my life has and is being changed for my good. If he leaves her, then he leaves me with The tool by which my life has and is being changed. Are you confused? Let me explain: I DON’T LIKE TO BE CHANGED. God had me cornered no matter what happens.  And if he does take her, it is a sure bet he’ll change me without her: maybe he’ll give me a new wife that wants two gardens (good grief!).

It is the Lord who takes us where we do not want to go. He causes us to see things that terrify us: calamities, afflictions, and many troubles. I felt that he was laying me over an anvil and beating the sense out of me. At one point in the night where his hand felt so heavy upon me I began to think, “. . . just get away from me – don’t touch me – leave me alone if this is all that you have for me.” And since I was thinking it, the Lord was hearing my inward groaning, as I lie there alone clutching Cheryl’s personal, red blanket, holding on to it as if I had the power to hold her life in my hands. And then the irony of that room fell on me like a heavy dew: I wanted God to be so near me that if I opened my eyes I could see his. I wanted him to hold me with his right hand. I wanted him to assure me that he will never leave me, though he has made me to feel like he is unhinging my bones (Psalm 22:14). My gut hurt and ached for hours as I cried all night (vss. 14-15). But David did say that weeping will tarry throughout the night but joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5). The Lord walked out of the room with me as the morning dawned. I asked the Lord to “turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalm 25:16). And he did.

If at times Sanctification threatens to undo you, you are not alone. God is changing you and since we are all too fond of saying, “I don’t like change,” change we must. Why? To get ready for our new home with God. You and I are being fitted for another place, a place where there is no corruption of any sort. But on the other hand, we really do like change don’t we – on our terms? And there’s the prick in the side: God does not take our advice, our counsel, on how or when we should change. It’s a good thing he does not – right? “Yes,” we reluctantly agree. But deep down, we know we love change because we see Him more clearly, he is warmer and sweeter now that he has afflicted us and there is less of us and more of him. Like a gallon of Wisconsin Maple Syrup, it takes a lot of draining to produce such a small amount of pleasure, but Oh the rich satisfaction!

When God afflicts you he does so with precision and purpose and it will feel like he is forsaking you, not always, but sometimes it will feel this way. David wails and cries in lonely estrangement throughout the night only to know the nearness and comfort of the Lord more deeply than when the night began (Psalm 119:50, 75, 82-83, 92, 107, 145-153).

When you find yourself in the serenity room, don’t run and hide from God, you can’t. Don’t busy yourself with background noise like tv, sports, finance, hobbies, shopping, fighting, protesting, drug-abuse, alcohol abuse, food abuse, . . . rather, go down on your knees, sturdy yourself for the change that is about to take place and go ahead and “ask, When will you comfort me?” (Psalm 119:82-83) Then what? Do it again tomorrow night. Go back to your room, the one that you both love and hate, where all your fears are exposed before the Lord and know this God who mysteriously is both your painful sap-sucker and closest friend.

Where the Lord has Cheryl Today

Cheryl’s white cell count steadily hovers around 11,500 to 13,100. The doctors are very pleased with this stability. The infection is under control; still there, still lethal, but tamed. They had a short meeting yesterday, spoke with us briefly, then will meet again today and tell us their plan. Here is what we do know as of last night (which could change by this evening): They want to take her off IV to oral antibiotics tomorrow on Wednesday. On Thursday morning, run the labs and vitals to see how she responded to the change. If she does well, they may discharge her leaving the nephrostomy in to keep draining the infection, giving her body more time to get stronger and more time for the infected kidney to shrink back as close as possible to its original size. The options remain to either remove the kidney or remove the staghorn stone. If the kidney can be saved, we were told last night there will possibly be multiple laparoscopic surgeries to remove the stone. Google images for this stone will explain why it cannot be removed at once without tearing the kidney up.

Cheryl’s pain level has come down and she is sleeping much better. So am I. The weekend of worship for me with my church family was medicinal, yucky but healthy. I needed it. The Greatest Story Ever Lived is a Never Ending Story as lovers of Jesus Christ hold fast to him year by year, throughout the earth until he returns.

Continue to pray as God leads you. We’ll keep you informed as we hear new things. May Jesus Christ sweeten your day with Himself.

Ivan

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