Matt is getting discharged from the ICU and to the hospital floor in the next day or two, Lord willing, and in that there is both rejoicing (because he is stable enough to be moved), as well as sobriety (because of the reality of what he yet faces). God has both spared Matt’s life from stroke and sustained it in the ICU and we are so very thankful for that. We are also thankful that the bleeding on his head has stopped and that God provided the best medicine we know of to try to gain the upper hand on Matt’s cancer–free of charge for a year! There is much for which to be thankful.
There is also much for which to pray. Matt’s blood continues to be problematic as he is still having to be transfused every 24 hours. He is still having radiation on his brain on Wednesday. He was able to start eating and drinking again in the last few days, but food is more work than enjoyment at this time since he is having to re-learn how to swallow and chew. I have watched my husband do a lot of hard things in the last few days. On the one hand, the good news is that he is more alert and aware in the last couple days than he has been since the stroke. But on the other hand, that same awareness means the difficulty of what lies before him is in increasingly full view. He still does not have the use of his left shoulder, arm, hand, and leg. He cannot walk or stand by himself; cannot eat or drink or speak easily. My husband, the funniest man I know, the man with a smile for everything and everyone, cannot physically laugh or smile yet. And then of course, there is the cancer, a battle in and of itself without the added damage from the stroke. And so we pray.
In addition, we received another piece of bad news yesterday. 1 Corinthians 10:13 promises us that God will never give us a temptation or a test beyond what we can endure. We held to that promise yesterday morning when we received a phone call informing us that Matt’s dad, Richard, passed away. This phone call was especially jarring given the fact that he had just been with us visiting Matt in the hospital not many days ago. Having to deliver this news to Matt in addition to what he is working through was not easy. Yet to this also, Matt’s response again was, “It’s okay. This is the Lord’s will. I’m glad I got to see him.” Matt loved his dad and his dad loved Matt–our hearts are grieved for his wife and the rest of his family as they too mourn this loss.
What God has given us seems like a lot and it is. And yet, I have been encouraged in the last day or two by the thought that God is still worthy to be praised. Regardless of our circumstances, this holds true. Should we not sing His praises, the very rocks would cry out because He is that good and worthy and eternal and holy. There is a danger in the myopic tendency that comes with such dire straits. The temptation to let the practical implications of this diagnosis and stroke–as overwhelming and sad as they are true–rule my thoughts and heart each day is real. And there is a version of this story where I let lamenting over what is past lead me down a road of bitterness or resentment over what is still here; where I exchange gratitude for complaining, joy for constant, unproductive weeping. For the sake of the gospel, for the sake of my own soul, I cannot take that road. The day that I think the lapping waves of present sorrow outweigh the everlasting ocean of eternal joy or that this light and momentary affliction which our good Father has given us can in some way compare to the eternal weight of glory purchased by God’s Son on our behalf through His own redeeming suffering–that is the day that this battle has truly been lost. And even then, it can still be won by remembering.
What we’re going through is hard and real and the implications and suffering need to be faced and dealt with. But we do not face them alone and they will never be meaningless or without absolute purpose.
We press on and we still sing. We sing the praises of the One who made us and saved us. We sing of the One who is sustaining Matt in that hospital bed as I write. And we sing of the One who will one day–despite all our sin– grant us an eternity of doing just that.