We sat there and listened. The diagnosis: You have a rare tumour in your right eye. It’s a melanoma so you’ll need to also have a full body scan before we treat it.
At that moment in time, the world doesn’t actually stop, but it slows down a fair bit. One week before, we thought of ourselves as ‘husband and wife, parents, grandparents, and employees’; well one just made redundant, the other working. Now we’re looking at one of us being, ‘a patient’.
What happens when you’re faced with a situation like this?
First off, I think you need to have some your thought processes already planned out. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, used to practice some of his plans, knowing that when he was in a state of crisis, some of the solutions were already laid out, already well-rehearsed.
In life, I think that’s about having a perspective about the universe and what it owes you. For me, I don’t believe that God’s angry and trying to punish us when bad things happen. That’s not who God is. We, that’s my husband and I, already know this. We’ve been through some hard times before (you can check out my husband’s leg – it looks like he has been bitten by a shark; but it was actually a telecommunication pole that smashed it) and we know that God has remained true to who He is.
I also think that some events in our lives are purely the result of consequences – when we’ve made a poor decision it’s the outcome. And because the world is broken, stuff just happens.
I reckon if you haven’t sorted out your thoughts towards how the universe works, you’ll never be aware of God and just how much He loves and cares for you. You’ll think, ‘This shouldn’t be happening to me – to us – to our child.’ But in fact, ‘stuff happens’ to most people at different levels of intensity all over the world.
If you think pain is evil or should be brushed aside, that’s not right either. You can’t experience health without knowing sickness or pain. You can’t appreciate the harvest until you know drought. You don’t appreciate sun until you’ve been in the rain. Or vice versa!
Therefore, in the first instance, you have to be comfortable with the bigger picture. For me, I don’t think God owes me. He doesn’t owe me bad health or difficult times because I’ve been bad. I’m not good – no-one is. But bad health and difficult times aren’t things God deals out because I’m not good.
And He doesn’t owe me good health, good times, and happy moments all the time either. Whether I have a relationship with Him (and I do) or not, God doesn’t owe me a ‘sweet as’ life.
Secondly, if you hurry through pain, grief or sadness, you’ll find yourself missing the learning. Pain and sorrow have their place. Like I said before, you need to know sickness to appreciate health.
There’s a Psalm you might know. A psalm is like a song or a poem. In the midst of it, the writer says, ‘Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death’. He doesn’t write ‘run’ or ‘sprint’ … just walk. When you walk, you can look around for the moments and realise you’ve caught a glimpse of God’s light shining and realise He hasn’t dumped you in all this muck. When you walk, you can learn from the experience you are going through.
Equally, the writer doesn’t say, ‘camp there’. That is, don’t dwell in that sorrow. Don’t let it define you. Don’t stay there and loose perspective. You have to keep moving through pain and through grief.
God IS a God of love and at times, life’s circumstances can be moments of learning as equally as they can be moments of pure love – as in, you can sense that peace that passes understanding; you can become fully present to the fact that nothing can separate you from God’s love.
Back to the rare melanoma tumour in Steve’s eye that has a 90% chance of returning in one year. Go figure! While we’re in the midst of all this, I’m not praying fervently for healing. I’m praying for trust. For more trust. Healing would be nice. But actually I trust that God has healing sorted; that He actually knows what’s best. I trust that God loves me and my husband, Steve, more than my brain can fathom, and therefore I can trust He has my back. I may not agree, in human terms, what this looks like versus what ends up being the outcome. But if I trust, I’ll be surprised by the unexpected.
If I don’t trust, I’m sure I’ll take matters in my own hands. I’ll sort the solution out for myself. Be a sort of god to myself with my own preconceived ideas of what a god should do. I’ll be heaping crap upon the crap we’re going through. I’ll probably not hear His small voice because I’ll be too busy trying to get every medical professional involved as possible. I’ll probably not be surprised by His delicate provisions. I’ll miss Him whispering my name.
Whether we’ve found ourselves outside of what we thought was a great marriage.
Whether we’ve been hurt by the fact that we’ve been dumped.
Whether we’ve never had our own kids.
Whether one of our kids has died.
Whether we’ve heard, ‘You have a rare melanoma tumour in your eye’ …
God is a great God.
Thoughts by Jo Hood, International CEO of mainly music, who is walking through an interesting time of life with her husband, Steve.