When something hard crashes into our lives, what we choose to do in these moments matters and it makes a difference.
It may not change the outcome, but it definitely changes how we walk through it.
That Tuesday afternoon we heard Joe’s diagnosis is deeply etched into our story.
Neither of us saw it coming, but this is how tragedy often gets written into our lives.
It comes when no-one’s looking and when we least expect it.
I think this is why pain is so hard….It comes into our lives uninvited and yet it somehow finds a way of settling comfortably into our homes.
I remember Joe repeating his disbelief even while we walked through multiple steps of this the process, even meeting with Oncologists, it still felt surreal.
And I think this is because no matter how often we hear of tragedy in others lives, we feel disconnected, until it comes into our own lives.
And it honestly doesn’t matter how many times you hear words like ‘rare’, ‘aggressive’ or ‘fastest growing cancer’- there’s still something inside you that wants to believe it’s not true.
During the initial days of waiting, we had several good meaning friends tell us how they believed Joe wouldn’t have cancer because they’d been praying big prayers for us.
And although I wanted their words to be true, because I wanted to receive them like a word directly handed down from heaven…I struggled with them.
Because it’s scary when we don’t know what’s ahead or where we are going…
And honestly, I struggled, because I wanted nothing more than their words to be true. But I knew if God needed us to go through this valley, he would be there on the other side to see us through it.
Because no one willingly travels into the valley and we honestly don’t want anyone we love to enter its darkness either.
In fact many of us will go to great lengths to avoid it.
And that’s because its reputation holds a lot of suffering, pain and loneliness in it.
Yet the best thing we can do when God’s walking others into these dark places is to release them into the care of our good Father, knowing he goes with them every step of the way.
There was a scripture which Joe and I discovered those first few days found in 2 Corinthians 4.7-12…
‘But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.’
You see, sometimes our miracle in the middle of the mess isn’t what we were praying for. Because friend our miracle isn’t always about the depletion of suffering, because suffering does something within us nothing else can do…
We pray for ‘no cancer’, ‘no death’, ‘no suffering’ because this is what feels right in the depths of us and this is what we think is best for us and for others.
Because all we want for those we love is for them to experience the best and most beautiful times of life.
We somehow believe our worth is equated to the good times in life.
We convince ourselves that people get lost inside of pain…
But friend what if the struggle is where the beauty of God is seen the most?
Because of the aggressiveness of the cancer Joe had to be put on one of the strongest chemo regiments out there, which meant a lot of suffering.
Which honestly felt overwhelming and daunting at times…
Yet friend, in some of the hardest moments of his suffering I’ve seen the most beautiful glimpses of God.
And I think this is because when we walk through the darkest of valleys God gets seen the most.
Joe and I’ve been learning what God’s needing from us right now is to be present in these days.
It’s not for us to fully explain, because the truth is, we don’t have a lot of answers…our responsibility is to live out being human, with all the joy and all the pain it brings, because it’s here God sits with us.
I think something we all struggle with us wanting answers and certainties, but this friend is where God calls us to trust.
To trust him regardless of all the details…
And here in the middle of our mess is where life gets real, and it gets hard.
Its within this valley that God somehow gathers a community around us.
And friends its in these sacred spaces we’re able to endure greater suffering, deeper hardship and overcome many obstacles, because this is how we truly experience the presence of God in our lives.
The gift of God meeting us in our pain is a visible display of his compassion for us.
And this same compassion we are gifted with is given for us to pass on.
Our pain somehow gets redeemed through this gift of love from above.
What we need to remember is… on the other side of every valley is a hill…a resurrection from the dead.
So friend, if you’re in the middle of your mess looking for your miracle and you can’t see it anywhere around you…
it’s okay to let yourself bleed out for awhile and
it’s okay to even let others see you bleed.
Because in the middle of our messes, with shrapnel laying all around us, it takes courage to open up and share our story.
And one day, sweet friend we just might thank God for the valley he’s brought us through…
Because the valley is where God does some of his best work and we find him the nearest to us.
And this, friend is our miracle in the midst of our mess.
It’s where God’s crazy power gets beautifully displayed for our broken world to see.