As the weeks press on, it feels like Gail struggles just a little more after each chemotherapy treatment. She is a little more tired, nauseated and mentally strained. I’ve learned something from this. As goes Gail, so goes Don. There really is something to the idea of “sympathy pains.” I think this makes Biblical sense. God explains to us that when two people make the covenant of marriage, they become one. Paul says that this is a profound mystery, nevertheless true. So, if married people are one in spirit and flesh, it makes sense that when one suffers, the other suffers, and when one experiences joy, their mate experiences joy. The Apostle Paul also explains that this is true of the body of Christ, the Church. We are to suffer and rejoice together with one another.
At the start of the week, Gail was fairly strong, and so was I. But Wednesday morning, both of us awakened already struggling, and we didn’t know exactly why. We do know that we had originally planned a trip to Ireland this week. I have meetings in Ireland twice-a-year (Yes, I know, it’s tough duty but somebody’s got to do it :), so we’ve gotten the wonderful opportunity to vacation there several times. We absolutely love Ireland and our friends there. It has been exciting to see God work through our new church plant in Limerick. Gail’s comment, as she wept on my chest, was, “I just want my life back.” But there was more to it than this. I felt physically, spiritually and emotionally ill, and Gail was down too. I was irritable, and said a couple of things to her that I quickly regretted. Argh!
So, here’s what I did. I read my Bible – anyway. It wasn’t too inspiring, but it needed to be done. The truth about life is the truth about life, whether it feels like it or not. Then, I took a long ride and discussed the matter with God. Through the years, I’ve learned to discuss most things with God. Sometimes it feels like He is listening, and sometimes it feels like He is somewhere in the Bahamas on a beach, and I get his His, “out of office,” message. But the Bible tells me that He always listens and answers, so that is why it helps to read it, even when it doesn’t seem fruitful at that moment. Then, I went back home and talked with Gail a little longer. That helped immensely, but honestly, I was still sick and tired. I considering working from home the rest of the day, but I knew this would not be helpful for my attitude. I love my work and the people I work with. I needed to be onsite, so I reluctantly went to my office and buckled down. I got a lot done and I didn’t slip any further down the depression scale. Still, I was not feeling well.
That evening, Gail and I went out for dinner and then sat on the couch together quietly. It was not a banner day, but still a day well-lived. We went to bed early and now it’s a new day. Wednesday, April 5th, was another day in our version of the cancer chronicles. But it too passed. I’m feeling much better today. The same God who met with me in my misery yesterday was there again this morning.
I tell this story to relay something this difficulty in our journey is teaching us. We trained our whole lives for this. Bible reading, prayer, time alone with God and with each other, fruitful labor, and, the ability and willingness to openly and honestly communicate with each other, gets us through crappy days and a crummy situation. I am so glad God taught us the importance of these simple, life-giving ingredients to our daily lives. I know that Gail feels the same.
For what it’s worth . . .