In the quiet

I have not been reading much or talking much or writing much. Marissa has been in the hospital and the days are going by with such quietness. After the flurry of the first days of test after test, now we are waiting. We are waiting to see if the long-awaited trial drug is going to start fighting the cancer, waiting to see if they can manage the nausea and side effects, waiting to see if she can climb out of this new place where she has fallen.

It is very still in this place.

Sometimes stillness can be an enemy but mostly I find it a friend. I find that even when my sad thoughts are swirling round, there is comfort and truth swirling right alongside. I find over and over that God is real and His words are real.

I find that He is my anchor in this storm. This storm of quietness.

Marissa’s physical battle screams in the silence. This sudden plunge into distress has us wondering, how should we pray? What is God doing? We want to be confident in His power, yet submissive to His will. We want to trust in His goodness in the worst kind of pain. We want to be faithful even when wondering.

We want to be full of faith even when He is quiet.

I remember my pastor preaching out of Matthew 15 where the Canaanite woman is begging Jesus to rescue her daughter from suffering. “And he did not answer her a word,” Matthew 15:23 tells us. I have written in the margin of my Bible this:

Sometimes God is silent.

Because He is sometimes. It doesn’t mean He is not listening. It doesn’t mean He is not loving. It doesn’t mean we should stop asking. His silence is temporary and purposeful. The Canaanite woman continued to cry out to Him, and He eventually answered her. He eventually recognized her faith and healed her daughter.

He eventually spoke words of forgiveness and healing and peace.

I know with absolute certainty that God could heal Marissa in one moment and with one word. I know that with one act, his death on the cross, He has already secured eternal healing for her.

But for now, He is silent. For now, we continue to ask.

We are waiting, still, in this storm of quietness.

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for Him to act. Psalm 37:7











Is there grace for this?

I’ve done many things I thought I couldn’t do. I’ve birthed nine babies and survived all the days of small ones. I’ve been up through the night with a sick child. I’ve been terrified of new things and overwhelmed by having too much to do. I’ve wept with heartache and sorrowed deep. I’ve walked with my daughter through cancer treatment.

But there was always rescue, always a window of relief. There was always grace for the moments, always hope.

Is there grace for this?

Is there grace for cancer? For cancer that isn’t going away? Grace for this level of pain? Grace for a mama’s deepest sorrow? Grace for suffering? For watching the suffering of your dear one?

I know there is grace for living. I have received grace in mothering, strength for each day. I have seen a glimpse of joy even in the hardest moments of life. I have been strengthened when weak and lifted when falling. I have breathed deeply and gratefully when a crisis has passed.

And still I wonder. Is there grace for this?

Because if faith means anything, it must mean grace for the things we cannot do. It must mean grace for the impossible. It must mean amazing grace, God-given grace, infinite and matchless grace.

It must mean grace for the hardest thing.

After six days in the hospital at Duke, Marissa is struggling to get back to a semblance of normal. Her lung function is compromised, so the whirr of the oxygen tank is a constant companion. With multiple liver lesions and malignant fluid in her chest cavity, she is always uncomfortable and often in pain. Before she was sick from the treatment for cancer, but now for the first time, she is sick from the cancer. She finally was able to start the trial drug one week ago, so now we wait. If it works against her cancer, she may gain a reprieve. If not, the cancer is growing every day.

If not, we face one of the hardest things.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Content with weakness? Content with hardship and calamity?

Yes, for the sake of Christ and so that His power will rest on us.

We are desperate for that power. The amazing truth is we are not abandoned in our weakness; we are made strong. We are not forsaken in the midst of calamity; we are blanketed by the greatest power. We have been invited into His fellowship of suffering, and we can let His power rest on us.

And when we are in a place where we feel we can’t go on? When we are trembling in our weakness? When our calamity is the deepest sadness of the heart?

He meets us there with strong and perfect grace.

Grace that is sufficient. Enough. Enough for the hardest thing.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16











The story we’re meant to tell

I’m sitting in a hospital room on the 9th floor while Marissa is sleeping. The sun is rising and silhouetting the life flight helicopter that sits on a landing right outside our window. I’m drinking coffee out of a paper cup, and I’m missing my children and my normal life. Maybe Marissa can go home today and we can trade oxygen tubes and pain medication for a messy house and noisy family. Maybe we can just drive away and rest.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks and hardly a chance to recover from one blow before another comes. Since September of 2015 we have been running to stay ahead of this cancer. It’s been relentlessly chasing her and now it hardly feels like she can stay on her feet to keep running.

She is so tired of running, and the enemy is winning this race.

I have watched my daughter cry out in pain and struggle to breathe. I have heard bad news–wave upon wave nearly knocking me down. I have felt my faith twisted and pulled, and sometimes I can almost smell the burning of the rope that is holding me.

A skirmish of the soul.

I run, desperate, to the living Word, and I long for deliverance. I long for peace. I long for truth that is bigger than this moment–bigger than this story and bigger than me.

I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in You I trust. Psalm 143:6-8

I think I know this failing of spirit. I think I have felt this anguished thirst.

I, too, have searched for a hidden face.

Snow is falling gently now outside my window, making everything white. There is beauty in its covering. It changes the way everything looks, and even the ugly is masked.

Truth brings its own covering of beauty. It is a strong mantle covering the worst of pain, the ugliest of days. It is the big picture of redemption and new things and death swallowed up in victory. It tells of a future with no more sickness, no more dying, no more tears.

It is the big story, the forever story, the story we’re meant to tell.

It is the old, old story of Jesus and His love.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4