Biblical Solutions for Problems with the World
Be Thankful? You Can’t Be Serious!
Trials, Part 2 (Part 1 Here)
By Brittany Cady
I am 32 years old and often feel like my adult life has been spent working towards my doctorate in Navigating Trials. When I was 25 and had my first baby, who was 5 weeks old, my husband Tim was diagnosed with APL, a rare form of Leukemia. After the initial diagnosis the doctor came into his room and the first thing she said to us was, “if Tim survives the weekend, we will start chemo on Monday.” We were also told that first day that Tim would be sterile after his treatments. I didn’t hear much else of what she had to say, to be honest. Tim had three CT scans that weekend to check for brain bleeds and we spent many hours just crying and confessing that our faith was weak, but that we wanted to honor our Father.
Tim was in the hospital for a little over a month and both of us had literally hundreds of chances to share of the hope we have in Jesus Christ. A lady carrying a baby up and down the oncology floor of the hospital is an unusual sight, and Tim being only 27 was an anomaly on the floor too. We saw firsthand how God shows us His tender mercies through the love and provision of our brothers and sisters. Tim got transferred into isolation and I couldn’t bring Ben to the hospital. People from our church and our old church, Temple Baptist, came forward, and there was only one day of 30-some that I wasn’t able to go to the hospital. God had given me such a sweet and easy little baby and there were many times that Ben was one of God’s ways of telling us not to despair or give up. What a gift he’s been to us!
Tim had many physical trials over the next year. There were many “close calls” and those were the cause of many worries for me. I spent many nights lying awake wondering if Tim would be alive when I woke the next morning. Every milestone Ben reached reminded me of the grim prospect of not having any more babies. I frequently got carried away with fear. Those things were real problems, but they were not at all framed by thankfulness. Instead of spending my hours worrying, I could’ve been giving thanks. I could’ve thanked God for another day with my beloved husband, a day I didn’t deserve and hadn’t earned. I could’ve thanked God for a beautiful son, and praised God for his companionship and precious little life. It was in these dark days of my life that I learned that thankfulness is not something that comes naturally in hard times. Thankfulness is a fruit of what’s in our hearts; we have to fight for it, and beg God to help us to be thankful even when our circumstances are telling us otherwise.
While Tim was still undergoing treatment and Ben was only 8 months old, we found out that we were expecting our second child. I still weep at the thought of God’s kindness towards us in this. It was totally unexpected! As far as we know, none of those who’ve been treated with the type of chemo that Tim had have been able to have children naturally afterward. We truly know that our second and third kids are complete miracles from the hand of our merciful God. We were not guaranteed them, and yet we are blessed to be alive, to be able to enjoy them, teach them, and parent them every day.
Elijah came along, Tim was mostly done with treatment, and we were able to rejoice in the prospect of being parents again. Elijah is our miracle, and I cannot even begin to count the number of times that we’ve been able to tell others about the great things that God can do. He is not confined by doctor’s predictions or medical protocols.
When Elijah was about 6 months old, Tim’s blood work looked a little strange, and we were sent reeling again, wondering what God’s plans were for our future. I listened to my fears and began to wonder what it would be like to be a widow with two boys under 2! Looking back, we spent a lot less time despairing in this trial than we had during the last. Because of God’s kindness in all the lessons He’d taught us in the previous trials, we found things to be thankful for and chose to rejoice in them, and fought to leave our worries at the feet of our Savior. We had many friends praying with us and carrying our burden with us. After three weeks of waiting and worrying, Tim’s blood work finally started to return to normal on its own (the doctor had no explanation for this). Our first reaction was to weep with the relief and to praise the Lord again for His undeserved kindness to us. I continued to be able to be married to the man I loved, and he’d be able to continue to be a father to our two sweet boys.
Life settled down for a time, but when Elijah was 14 months old he was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis, a condition where the joints in a baby’s skull close prematurely. The only option to fix this was a surgical cranial restructuring. Getting the news of the surgical treatment options sent me spiraling into a wave of doubt. I can remember thinking, “really God?! How can you give us this now? I can’t handle another huge life trial right now. I still haven’t recovered from the last one!” How quickly I had forgotten the lessons that God kindly and patiently had taught me previously! It took some time, lots of prayer, repenting and confessing my weakness, and many hours pouring over the passages in scripture that had brought me hope in the past. When it came time for Elijah’s surgery we were content with our circumstances. We had been graciously given another open-ended chance to speak of God’s kindness towards us, and to preach the gospel in places and to people that we’d have had no other contact with if it weren’t for our son’s birth defect.
In the end, we have learned not to be surprised or wonder why when life gets hard and the trials rain down. In the past, I foolishly assumed that since we’d already been through some major life trials that we’d somehow filled our quota and would only have smaller trials in the future. “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world,” John 16:33. It’s a guarantee; we are going to have troubles. But a posture of thankfulness is a God honoring way to look at your trials. We have so very much to be thankful for. God sent His Son and purchased our redemption. We don’t suffer in vain! We know that our God has purpose for us in all of life’s circumstances. If we look for His mercies in the midst of our trials, then we can sing of them for all to hear!
Join me next week as I share a few more ways to fight for joy and thankfulness in the midst of a more on-going struggle.