January 6, 2011
It’s been a whirlwind of a week since I last wrote you. We’re still out of the hospital and waiting for the 11th to see the surgeon. Cheryl is steady as they had hoped; no evidence of infection getting out of control, temp is steady, pain is minimal – in fact, Cheryl is feeling very well all things considered. The nephrostomy drain tube remains and will remain throughout the ordeal. Our church family is full of good works, helping us to bear our burden, as are countless friends and family throughout the Church of Jesus Christ who are praying for us.
There really is nothing more to say at this point until next Tuesday (“no news is good news”). There are several forks in the road that the surgeon may take – all of which the Lord knows already and he has promised to not leave us nor forsake us. We still covet your prayers:
- That we will not waste this trial, but rather prove that Jesus Christ reigns and is worthy of our trust;
- That though the Lord afflicts us, we will not lose sight of his good intentions;
- That the effects upon the lives of others will be to the praise of the glory of His grace;
- That our faith will not fail;
- That though the outward man is wasting away our inner man will be renewed;
- “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (psalm 73:26) – that we would believe it;
- That the surgeon next Tuesday would do what is best for Cheryl;
- That the infection would stay put and not escape until the doctors have safely removed it, either with the stone or with the kidney;
- That from Him, through Him, and to Him, would all beauty and praise be to Him from His people (Rom. 11:36)
And now, let’s return to THE SERENITY ROOM
I saw others tortured in there – alone with themselves, with others, but painfully alone with their fears. Taking a break outside of Cheryl’s Intensive Care room, you can peer into that room down the hallway. The door has a full length window with a blind to close for more privacy . . . it’s usually open. I often looked toward the room during the day, dreading it and desiring it at the same time. Dreading to wrestle with my fears in the presence of the Lord and inwardly fascinated with the prospect of being so near Him. As I said, I sometimes look toward that room. Once, I saw and heard a family arguing about what to do with their loved one. On another occasion, I saw another woman weeping, refusing to go back and attend her dying loved one in the sanitized catacomb. As she stood just outside that room of torment, an ICU nurse approached her: “You have to do this – you are all that she has. I’m sorry but you have to go through this with her.” I felt so sorry for her. I wondered if she knew Jesus.
The apostle Paul said, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Cor. 10:13). What was happening to me was and is happening to an unknown massive host of people around the world, even most of you in my own church family. It is common to suffer, to be in torment, to be confused, pressed, and weighed down from many sides with only the prospect of it getting worse.
“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy (the fear of my wife’s death) be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD because he has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13
THE SERENITY ROOM is common to man but what is not common to man is the steadfast love of the Lord as he weeps with you in your torture chamber. The difference between you dear saint and the one who does not know the Lord, is not suffering – for all suffer, but that you are not alone – He is there throughout the night with you. And though that is what makes THE SERENITY ROOM all the more horrifying at first like it did for David in psalm 13, in the end there is rejoicing to have been with the Lord, to have known a deeper level of trust that you did not have before entering that room. This does not mean that in one night the rejoicing may come through, it may be weeks or months or even a lifetime of weeping, rejoicing, weeping, rejoicing – dread and desire. But what is sure for all those who know the uncommon union of suffering and rejoicing in and with the Lord, your heart will rejoice, the grace to escape the total failure of your faith is certain, and your salvation will cause you to sing prayerful songs because – can you believe it?!?! – he has dealt bountifully/extravagantly with you. I need this and so do you!
I kept my guitar with me in the ICU room with Cheryl every day. Why? Because I needed to sing and play to the Lord and to Cheryl. I needed to believe that the Lord was being gracious with us – so I sang and played, and as I sang and played my guitar just 50 ft away from THE SERENITY ROOM, it was proof that my enemy was not prevailing over me – but that Jesus Christ was my Triumphant King who rules over all.
Keeping you posted on the Lord’s bountiful work,