That night, when we left Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Werner slept, while I drove toward home along the narrow winding mountain road I knew well. Darkness covered the road and my thoughts. At least driving prevented a flood of tears, but not the ominous visions and questions taking root in my spirit like the uninvited weeds growing in my gardens.
Who will help me to be brave while esophageal cancer wreaks havoc in his athletic body? Where is the brave to keep my hands holding strong on the rope with Werner, as I watch him endure months of toxic chemotherapy and radiation? All the drugs will kill both healthy and diseased cells. More important, where is the hope against the odds of him surviving this beast?
Brave, what brave? Brave means I need to be fearless and bold. It’s more my character to wear worry shoes. Fearless walking is difficult wearing worry shoes. The miles flew by, along with the what if’s and why us. Waves of fear rose up around me. I glanced at him sleeping and sucked in my breath against a black sea of suffering cancer intends to inflict on him. A quiet voice interrupted my drowning. “Look at Jesus.”
Too tired and battered to resist, I looked at Jesus.The quiet voice spoke again. “Your terror, like Peter’s, is a keeping-your-eyes-on-Jesus moment. Do you remember how Peter learned to trust God, he, along with the other disciples, were battered by a midnight storm? When they saw Jesus appear out of the mist like an apparition, they became more terrified, until He spoke. When He beckoned Peter to step out of the boat and walk to him, did Peter say, this is water. You don’t have the power to keep me from drowning. What did Peter do?”
“I remember.Peter fixed his eyes on Jesus, stepped over the boat rails, and against all the laws of physics, stood on water.”
The quiet voice spoke. “Trust Jesus. Nothing else will work. Keep your eyes on Him. He will keep you from drowning in discouragement and despair. He will show you how to be brave.”
“Yes, of course. God will be my brave. I will trust God.”
“Really?” spoke a familiar mocking voice. You are going to trust God to be your brave? Why?”
Now the mocking voice had my attention.
“Who has allowed cancer to threaten Werner’s life if not God?” You should be angry at God. Remember your son’s brain tumor. You thought after the first brain tumor, nothing could get worse. Who allowed the second brain tumor to threaten his life? So, you are really going to trust this God?”
“Yes, you are right. God allowed all this awful cancer. But He also said, don’t be afraid or surprised when life hands us trials. It’s you, the adversary, who manipulates misery. I can’t change Werner’s cancer, but I can choose whose voice I will listen to and whose direction I follow.”
The quiet voice spoke. “Nothing will separate you from God.”
“That’s true. God’ kept His promise to walk with us through Stefan’s ordeal. Why would He not walk with Werner and me in this ordeal.”
The mocking voice was silent.
Darkness still covered the road. Tears still ran down my face, but my thoughts had turned a corner. Would my anger against God give comfort and support to Werner in his fight? What will it do to Werner if I walk beside him carrying my bitterness, anger and despair? I know. Because he always cared for my well-being, he would see and feel an emotional and spiritual cancer in me. It would add to his misery.
I turned the car into our driveway, thankful that he slept through the drive and my struggle. Yes, I was sad and exhausted, but the despair was gone. I understood God chose Peter’s lesson in trust to reassure me that, however treacherous this forced climb Werner and I must attempt, I can trust Him for the courage to honor Werner’s request. I stepped out of the car ready to begin.
The Fifth Gate. The Spiritual Battle Begins