There is an old adage which says “to trust God in the light is nothing, but to trust Him in the dark—that is faith.” I was speaking to my sister the other day, telling her that the Monster had broken free of its chains and has invaded my husband’s lungs. I felt hopeless. This, I thought, is the beginning of the end. The Monster’s return, my sudden despair, the unravelling of our world. It will all happen now. I said, “he will die.” This was not accompanied by tears, just a heaviness, a knowing, like standing at the bottom of a steep mountain path rising up into fog and gloom, and understanding it is a path I must unavoidably climb. That somehow, my husband and I must climb it together. But my sister responded by warning me not to speak death into my husband, but rather to have faith. There is still life to be lived. For a moment, I had forgotten that.
Faith, like life, is a tenuous thing. Fragile if not nurtured. Weak if not nourished. My husband and I have spent our lifetimes believing in God…or should I say, believing that there is a God. I have learned, of late, that these are two different things. I know my faith has been tested. I know it has come under attack. I know that it has caused me to question myself and my motivations, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a crisis of faith before. It’s a strange thing actually. It’s not that I doubt the existence of God. What I have begun to doubt is whether or not He is as near to me as people keep telling me He is. Somehow, somewhere, I fell overboard, and no matter how fast and hard I swim, I can’t seem to catch up to the boat. It’s adrift, moving away from me, and I am flailing in the middle of the sea calling for a God Who doesn’t answer me. I’ve heard it called the ‘dark night of the soul’…lost, alone, and Heaven is silent.
My grandmother used to tell me that you can’t always get what you want. Sometimes you must simply ‘hurry up and wait.’ And waiting takes patience. And patience takes discipline. And discipline takes determination. And determination takes strength. And strength takes faith. In fact, nothing in this life is possible without faith. That we will wake in the morning, that we will eat food, that we will get to work on time, that we will make it home, that we will return home again to find everything where we left it. That we will connect again with the ones we love. That we will have the power of speech. That we will see and hear. That we will understand. That we will breathe. Faith—we believe what we do not yet know.
You who are struggling as the Monster batters your faith, I have no answers for you except to say that I know just how you feel. There is darkness beneath the Monster’s consuming shadow; your eyes are not deceiving you. It is cold here; your senses are not cheats. But this is not the end. It just feels like the end, as we sometimes imagine that ends must be. Here in the darkness, I imagine the end, because what else is there to do in the dark but suffer horrors of my own invention? I obsess about terrors and forget what is real and true and all around me, like my husband lying in bed right now propped against pillows with his glasses low on his nose and squinting at the small print of an article he is reading on his tablet. He is sipping from a bottle of water. The dog is laying across his feet. He is comfortable and warm, and starting to feel like maybe it’s time to put the tablet down and sink down into his bed for the night. All around him, there is light and there is life. Only God knows tomorrow. Still, it’s hard to make myself move and strike out in this darkness even though I can clearly see my husband from here. He is where the light is, and I think I can get back there. Perhaps it just takes a leap of faith.
#cancer #faith #surviving cancer #new normal