For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Isaiah 41:13 (NIV)
I was still in bed the morning my world was turned upside down. I didn’t even feel the bed shake as my foundation began to crumble under me.
I had simply reached for my phone (a bad habit I’ve developed) as I was waking groggily next to my sound asleep boys. There was a missed call from my father from hours earlier, long before any of us were ever awake. I called him back, and it was then my ground began to shake. “The doctors think it’s cancer . . . Your mom.” The words tumbled in my brain like shoes in a dryer. Clumsy. Loud. Pounding. I finally found the words to respond, “Whose mom?” He confirmed it was my own.
What happened next was a blur. I numbly prepared breakfast for the boys, made a call to my husband, already on his way to work, to come home. I bolted for the hospital as soon as he returned, dread and prayer punctuating every thought as I got on the freeway, barely noticing the road in front of me.
My mom wasn’t supposed to be sick. She was supposed to be fine. This wasn’t how any of this was supposed to go. How do you follow a crumbling path — one that seemed solid the day before but now feels as though every step is precarious, weightless? I wasn’t a stranger to roads that forked in unexpected ways by any means. I wrote a book on the main detour my life had taken in the last decade, but this — this — knocked the breath out of me. How had I not seen this coming?
Life felt so cruel, but I knew God was close. So, I didn’t hesitate to whisper (maybe I yelled it a little) WHY? in His ear.
His silence was deafening, yet I knew He was there quietly working — in the elevator with nurses as I choked back sobs, in the hallways where I asked questions no one could answer, in my mind where I yearned for calm that glimmered but quickly faded. He was near, in every moment. The God of the universe draws near to the broken-hearted and crushed in spirit. Though I longed to find a way out of the pain I was in, I knew He was calling me to walk through it with Him by my side.
When we find ourselves on unexpected paths filled with soul-crushing pain, we throw up our hands. Fear holds us hostage as we try to make sense of it all. Our minds grapple while our hearts break. In my devastation, I asked a close friend what I should do. “Step up to the plate, darling. It’s time.” She knew that inside I was trying to find a way to escape it all — the pain, the hospital, the doctors with their kind eyes but grim prognosis.
But every time I passed through another set of swinging doors staring through tear-blurred eyes at the waxed floor in front of me, my mind wandered to the day before — when everything was normal, when cancer happened to other families, when joy still felt possible. Could I step up to this plate?