Getting through difficulties with Hope

A squirrel: entertainment while housebound.
Nutsy: Our live entertainment

We have been writing a series of blog posts on coping with hospital stays, when life gets difficult and our faith. Our aim is not really to make the blog about us and how we are doing but rather on what has helped us manage our situation in the hope that we can offer you some hope and support in difficult times. So many of us are living through so much right now.  For us we are managing brain cancer and a palliative diagnosis, and you may have a different story.  

A few days before we left the hospital we were labelled as palliative care, no more we can do but you can go home if you would like.  If you have never been in this situation you will never truly know what this news feels like. Everything changes when you learn that you have terminal cancer and there is no right or wrong way to feel or react, we have found we just go with the flow. 

One initial thought that we expressed when the specialist met with us was what lesson is God trying to teach us and where is He trying to take us on this journey? One confidence we can have is that despite our journey God is always with us and we do not have to worry about tomorrow as He is there waiting for us. 

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)

We have learned that you can still feel a sense of hope, despite your cancer. When we were told that medically there was nothing more that can be done, we thought, well we have hope of a better life to come and we have hope for other things including comfort, peace, acceptance, and even joy.  

We left the hospital two days later with an army of people dispatched to help us manage each day for which we were truly grateful. We are not going to lie, the first few days were daunting with end of life imminent, special food prep requirements and nursing care to learn, since for 17 long weeks all of this had happened around us at the press of a button. 

However stopping and taking a quick breather and focusing on the tasks ahead and learning as we went, we soon created a routine to follow, putting cancer in a box, setting up friends to visit, planning on what we needed to do to get back out on our deck with a wheelchair bound person, and spending time with the people that matter to us the most; continuing on with life and living each moment to the fullest. 

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (Mark 11:22-25)

We didn’t stop doing the things we liked to do just because of our diagnosis – we may have had to adapt it to our range of abilities but we never stopped a thing. The little things are the big things is one of our mottos and each day we find small things in life to enjoy. 

“I know O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps...”  (Jeremiah 10:23) 

With a diagnosis such as this you learn that you are no longer in control of life and Proverbs 16:9 reminds us of that –  “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”   

We have learned the importance of looking after our inner selves and immersing ourselves in what benefits us and keeps us calm which is very much our focus. We have a huge faith in God and trust in His word and aim to walk in right ways each day. As Paul reminded Timothy – 

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5)

We all know that trials are a normal part of life, but when something as serious ill health comes on, all of a sudden your life doesn’t seem normal anymore. Our minds go to this chapter and verse. 

“When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realise that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed.”  (James 1:2-4)

It’s not easy to welcome difficulties instead of resenting them, but we are trusting that God tells the truth when He says they can increase our endurance, expand our learning and teaching and prepare us for better things to come. Our faith is solid and it keeps us focused on this journey. 

“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.”  (Psalm 115:3)

We’ve seen God at work in us, helping us to grow closer to Him and each other.  We have seen others step up to help us and we too have learned how to serve and be of service to others and for all this we’re deeply thankful and others have noticed this in us and reached out to us. 

We are well aware that many of you reading this are facing difficult challenges, some considerably more difficult than ours and we pray and hope you too can sense His nearness to you.  

“For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His”   (2 Chronicles 16:9)

We live in an imperfect world full of imperfect people. This is the root cause of all suffering. The Bible tells us why there is this imperfection and what has been done to remove it in the future. Suffering can be a reminder that we should think about why our world is not perfect. As a community we have a wealth of blog posts on different topics for you to browse through.  

Some people endure far more illness than others. They can be in difficult situations for long periods of time with no apparent hope of release. 

"Our Lord is always present and will never abandon His children: God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.'”  (Hebrews 13:5)

When we see storm clouds on the horizon, it is a warning to expect rain. If we don’t have clothes suitable for rain, then we should do something about it. The same goes with life – if you don’t prepare for your future then it may not end the way you are expecting. Throughout this journey we are preparing ourselves for a better future and we trust what the Bible tells us, that we can be assured that one day suffering will end if we follow God’s word.  

What are we hoping and praying for you may be thinking?  The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ will come back to the earth to eventually remove all of our world’s imperfections, including pain and death. For example:

"He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces." (Isaiah 25:8) 
"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away"  (Revelation 21:4)

These verses are a promise of hope and comfort to those who believe in God. It speaks of a time when all pain and suffering will be gone, and there will be no more tears, sorrow, or death. We pray daily for Jesus to return to restore the earth to its former glory and bring peace.  

We can honestly say that the Bible has an answer for every thought and feeling that we have been experiencing and so much hope too. Because God does not change, His message does not change either. When we are thinking of the vital issues of life and death, we need a message that is totally reliable so that we can put our trust in it: 

"You are God, and Your words are true." (2 Samuel 7:28)

The Psalmist makes it clear that God will bless those who obey him: 

"Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart." (Psalm 119:1-2)

Leaning on the Lord and reading His word, praying and focusing on what we are promised if we do, are all ways in which we cope with everyday life. We live mindfully and in the present and focus on that moment and what we should be doing. We were talking to a dear friend about Joshua 6 one day as it was the daily reading for the day. She shared this interesting thought with us: Israel, Joshua, and Jericho, it seemed to me that God put obstacles in their way so they just had to trust that He would do it, not them. Food for thought! 

Nature is phenomenal. We are blessed to live where we do. Our apartment backs onto a forest where a plethora of animal’s troop through and birds pop in for sustenance each day. They are our Netflix. We watch them and are entertained by them for hours and are grateful to our Heavenly Father for their provision. Being mindful about what we focus on also helps with our positive mindsets. 

We are blessed with a team of people who bring joy to our days and a richness in their conversations and caring. Friends who visit too or drop in on social media from around the globe. So many blessings every day.  Looking for the good in every day is key for us. 

We have now been home 10 weeks and taking each day, hour or minute as it comes. Praising and thanking God each day for all He has provided. Whatever you are faced with on life’s journey may God grant you the strength, hope and wisdom you need and may your roots sink deeply in the soil of God’s love. We are praying for you. Reach out to us if you would like to chat: Facebook or Email.

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