Praising God In The Storm
It is so easy to give God the glory and praise when things are going well, isn’t it? Getting a promotion at work, a healthy baby, someone buying your dinner. All of these things are wonderful and we SHOULD be giving praise to our Lord for them, but what about when things are not going well?
We are a military family. We’ve endured the long periods of separation, the financial stress from picking up and moving across country or living paycheck to paycheck, and losing friends and loved ones due to injury, illness and combat. In short, during our marriage, we have sure had our share of bumps like many of you have had your share of bumps. However, nothing prepared us for the mental and emotional fatigue when we found out our youngest had a stroke in utero. You can read all about that HERE and HERE. Our bumps, bruises and stresses are not the motivators behind this post. Instead, the motivator behind this post was what I read on a friend’s Facebook page.
I graduated High School in 1995. I had some of the best friends in High School! However, I want to specifically talk about my friend Jay. He dated and married his high school sweetheart, another friend of mine, Christy. They were an amazing couple. Jay became youth pastor at one of the local churches and Christy was an awesome Pastor’s wife. She was truly one of the sweetest people you would ever have the pleasure of meeting. In 2005, Christy went on a mission trip. When she returned from that trip, she became ill and passed away in November of that same year. I cannot tell you what a shock this was to everyone who knew her. My heart ached and continued to ache as all of us gathered at the funeral home. My heart ripped in two thinking about not only Jay, but their daughter who would now grow up without her mom. Would she know how much her mom longed for her? Prayed for her? Loved her? I had comfort in knowing her daughter would know all these things because of the family she was surrounded by. I knew Jay’s and Christy’s family would never allow the memory of this little girl’s mother die.
How do you praise God in that storm? How do you continue to thank God during these tribulations? How do you find the blessings when your soul mate, the mother of your child, is gone?
Fortunately, Jay’s story doesn’t end there. He later remarried and now has more children. I do not personally know his wife, Emily, but from what everyone says she is an AMAZING woman. I see Jay’s posts on Facebook about her and I know he is crazy in love with her! His daughter, while not having her birth momma, has a woman to love her unconditionally by choice. Isn’t that amazing?
Jay’s story doesn’t end there.
This week Jay received some very shattering news. Those who follow me on Facebook have seen my posts asking for prayer. Jay’s 6 year old son was taken to the hospital because they thought that he had pneumonia. However, what the doctors found was that he had cancer. Knowing all of Jay’s story I just cried. I cried for all he had been through and is continuing to go through. I cried because I have three boys of my own and I can’t imagine receiving news like this. So how do you praise God in all this?
Let me share with you a few of Jay’s Facebook posts.
From April 15:
Update: This morning Dr. Saxena (his primary hematology Dr.) came and said that the blood smear from yesterday revealed a diagnosis. Elijah has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. It’s showing up in 30% of his bloodstream, which means it’s likely that over 60% of his marrow is now Leukemia.
While no parent ever wants to hear the word “leukemia”, this is the best possible kind for kids to have. Cure rate is more than 90%. He is in the Children’s Oncology Group, which is the same treatment he would get at St. Jude, Mayo Clinic, or any other.
Today they are starting him on his first dose of chemotherapy. He is also being sedated for a bone marrow sample and spinal fluid tap around 2PM. The marrow will be tested for genetic indicators. The spinal tap will look to see if its present in the testicles or brain fluid.
Tomorrow he will have a port installed in his chest, and they will be able to do all treatment and blood samples through the port. When he’s not being treated it will stay under his skin and he can do normal boy things.
Treatment starts right away, and will last three years. Most of it is outpatient, and we might actually be able to go home in a little more than a week. Much better than the month we were initially told.
Elijah will have to stay out of school for the first six months, and we will learn over time what he can and cannot do. The chemo will wipe out his immune system, so much will depend on that.
We are encouraged by this news.
We have been flooded with love, texts, prayers, and support. We cannot respond individually but know that they mean a lot. I have gone whole half hours without crying over the past day. Well, not really.
It’s interesting to fully love and trust God but also know that it doesn’t mean that you’ll get the outcome you want. Our hope is not in Elijah getting well. Our hope is in the Resurrection, and the resurrection is a Person. Our sincere desire and pleading with God is for Elijah to be fully healed, to live long days serving Jesus. We also pray that this pain is not wasted. We live in a broken, dying world, and the decay is not just in our bodies and bloodstream, it’s in our hearts. As I sit in anticipation of the pain my son might go through I am reminded of the pain that God’s Son chose to endure for us. We are trusting that Jesus will physically heal Elijah-miraculously or through medicine. But we are hoping that Jesus would also use this chapter in our life to prod others towards Christ. If you find yourself a bit jaded by Christ or the church, please hear me: the Peace of Christ is real and the love of the church is overwhelming. We have been loved so well. Many of you have asked what you can do for us. At this time, our needs are met and we are still just trying to comprehend what’s happening.
So here’s my request: Find someone in your life and love them like you just found out their child had cancer. Forgive them like you just found out their child had cancer. Serve them like you found out their child just had cancer. And live today like eternity matters.
With much love – Jay, Emily, and the family.
From April 16th:
What we know now: Emily and I just met with our oncologist and other team members.
Praises – so far it is looking like Elijah is in the “standard risk” for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. The genetics testing for bone marry will clarify that in the next few days. The spinal fluid test showed zero trace of leukemia on his brain fluid or testicles. He really likes this hospital and says it’s “the best in the world.” It certainly feels that way to us. St. Mary’s Children’s hospital is amazing, and they are a certified member of the Children’s Oncology Group, which is the best of the best group of children’s cancer treatment facilities in the country/world. Emily and I have felt very loved and cared for, from family, church, and hospital staff. We’ve been given a place to stay that is literally just next door to the hospital, with our room furnished by furniture from the Breakers!
Prayers – Elijah’s pneumonia is worse today, which means they don’t want to do the surgery to put in a port for treatment. They have opted for a pic line, which is nice because they can do treatment and draw blood from it. That procedure successfully happened this afternoon. No more sticks. The poor kid has been jabbed in the same square inch more times than I can count. He’s so brave but was starting to emotionally wear thin when they come with the needle in the same spot. (Side prayer, I have an irrational fear of pic lines form my experience with Christy. I know what happened with her was nowhere near normal, but I have to control panic when we talk about a pic line. Please pray for me.) They are going to start chemo treatment today with a one minute push.
This month we start something called Induction. It includes a concoction of three different chemotherapy drugs and steroids. They are going to wipe out his immune system and supplement it with broad spectrum antibiotics. (Hey youth, remember what I told you about Romans 8:28 and God being like the Great Pharmacist that works together things that are bad to be the exact prescription you need to save your life and make you well? Welcome to chemo). They will keep us here for the first week of treatment, and then if all goes according to plan we can go home. We will bring him back here for 2-3 trips a week to check blood counts, get treatments, etc. Currently leukemia has taken over 80% of his bone marrow and 30% of the blood in his stream. The goal at the end of the first month is zero detectable leukemia cells, or Remission. He will then follow a 3.5-4 year treatment plan. Lots of details with that, more than I can process right now.
Short term please pray that he overcomes the pneumonia and takes well to the chemo and other drugs. Pray for emotional sustenance for the entire family. Pray for me as I attempt to explain to Elijah today what he has and what it means. He knows he has leukemia, but that means nothing to him. Pray that we have an effective witness with the people we are around. We are not super human, we grieve and fear for our kids, but we trust Jesus and want them to as well. And pray for my sister in law who is in a hospital up the road giving birth to our new nephew! We love you all and appreciate you praying and sharing. God doesn’t waste the pain of his children, and we trust this one isn’t wasted
Jay’s storms are more like hurricanes. Losing a wife and then receiving news that his 6 year old child has cancer are storms that are difficult for any of us to weather. However, look at his praises and his prayer requests. What an example to follow. As I asked earlier, how do you praise God in the storm? Look for the small blessings He continues to give. Look for the rainbows He shows between the clouds. It is difficult, I know, but it is possible as demonstrated by my friend Jay.
Here is another story from my friend Maryann. She lost her husband while she was 32 weeks pregnant with her first child. Here are a couple of her posts:
It’s been 4 months today, since He went to be with Jesus. In some ways, it feels like an eternity ago, and in some ways, it feels like yesterday. I can still so clearly feel his rough calloused hand holding mine, and feel that little scar on his left hand from when he was a dangerous, energetic kid. I can so clearly see him looking into my eyes, and hear him telling me he loves me. I can still so clearly feel him touching my belly as he talked to Landon, telling him how excited he is to meet him. And it really hurts.
But when I think about the fact that he’s spending Easter with Jesus.. I have to smile through my tears. Cause I know how much he loved Jesus. How much he looked forward to meeting him face to face. And I know he’s SO happy. Happy Easter, sweetheart. I miss you.
( Maryann’s baby who was born valentine’s Day)
“Alive! Alive! Look what mercy’s overcome. Death has lost, and love has won.
Alive! Alive! Hallelujah, risen Lord. The only one I fall before. I am His, because He is… Alive!”
“Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives, all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. Life is worth the living just because He lives.”
My heart keeps ringing these songs today.
So how do we get the tools we need to be able to praise God in our storms? The book of James says
Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. James 5:10-11
1. Stay in the Word– Staying in the word keeps us connected to God, we need to read the word to know what he is telling us and teaching us. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4
2. Prayer-having a regular prayer time even in the midst of tragedy and trials allows us to talk to God. Not just with a list of demands of what we want him to do, but a deep meaningful conversation, like we are talking to a friend. Because after all Jesus IS and should be our best friend. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. James 5:15
Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me. Psalm 66:20
3. Music-The book of Psalms is full of verses praising God in the midst of trails and tragedy. They remind me that songs can truly help us to refocus on Christ, well if we are listening to the right music. You can read more HERE about how we chose music. Christian and gospel are what do it for me. And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music. 1 Samuel 18:6
No matter your storm, I hope you remember these two stories and tips. These stories give us all a glimpse of hope during our times of trials and despair. God loves you, even when you think He has forsaken you. God will never leave you.
So what did I wear for Resurrection Sunday???
FYI, there is a spot on the pictures in the middle. I didn’t realize I had a smudge on the camera lens. It is fixed now though 🙂
Hat: Fred Myer on clearance
Dress: Dainty Jewells
We had a blessed day starting with SONrise service. Then we followed that with breakfast at church, Sunday School, and Church. We then had friends over for lunch and fellowship. It was a great day!!! I hope yours was blessed too! Also, if you have a storm God has carried you though, feel free to share in the comments! I love hearing how God has worked!!! 🙂