Recent photo of my parents in my office

Recent photo of my parents in my office

January 19, 2008

Fighting Depression

During the last couple of weeks, I've become aware of a slip in my energy and focus, so this Tuesday, January 14, when we went for the blood check and visit to the Dr., I had a lurking sense that I'd need a blood transfusion again, and some injections or IV medications. And, indeed, that was the case. The hemoglobin had dropped down to 8.8 (from the previous high of 10.0), and there was a slight increase in the calcium in my blood. So we were clearly not on a straight upward move.

At the end of our appointment with Dr. Hantel, we had one of those average conversations that articulate contemporary medicine, but apart from including divine intervention or miracles. He praised the medical approach "we" had taken to getting me back to work, and predicted that "we" would have to see how long this would continue to work. He made some prognosis estimates that were very sobering, but that were really grounded in the methods "we" are using, but about which we are honestly uncertain. There are many other things contributing to my health that he is not aware of, nor did he same to respect them.

Nonetheless, the length of his prognoses weren't such that would encourage me or acknowledge that only through the miracle of God's work could I get further healing -- and that really, it's most likely that only through the miracle of healing that I've gotten as far as I have! Frankly, I felt stabbed in the back. It has taken me several days to get more perspective on what goes on after a trip to the hospital, the help I need to focus on God's voice rather than on the medical one, and at the same time, how to respect the treatments I'm receiving, since God has used many of them, no doubt. Some of allopathic medicine is actually beneficial, just as traditional science discerns much truth, whether or not the scientists acknowledge the ultimate source of life and reality as rooted in God. So I will continue to see Dr. Hentel, but I need a great strengthening of perspective to avoid being subordinated to his ultimate authority without listening first to the power of God. Forgive me, Lord, for the ways that I can become quickly faithless and embittered about the ongoing pains and battles I face.

In that regard, here are some matters for prayer: my bones continue to be shaky, shriveled, eaten up and made progressively convoluted. For example, my right rib cage has several tumors growing there, whether breaking down the bone, penetrating it, or using it as a basis to penetrate the lungs. I've noticed in the last few days that it takes more fast, short breathing even to walk slowly, or to speak full sentences or to vocalize loudly.

And yet, after Margie and I prayed a couple nights ago for one of the most prominent and largest tumors, my pain reduced there today, and the size seemed to shrink. What a marvel! Now, to pray again in other ways. I realized in retrospect that I had taken on some energetic efforts with my right arm, and might be paying for it with a bruise, a stretched muscle, or even a fractured rib. In the last few days, I had held Josiah and rocked him to sleep, then lifted him into bed, at some great effort, and pain as well. I lifted some stacks of books while sorting them at work. I sneezed and coughed a bit which tightened up my rib cage. All of these minor behaviors (by a normal standard) may have caused the inflammation and pain to break out. But I have had these sorts of things before, and I believe that just as doctors can't do anything for fractured ribs except wait for them to heal, in the same way, I've felt better after a few days. Pray for that for me, if you can.

In the largest sense, God continues to call me back to listen to the impossible as he speaks it to me. He hasn't called me to die yet, and my body belongs to him. He is my Lord, and Satan doesn't determine the end of the game. Until Jesus tells me to give up the battle and go home, I simply can't do it.

How blessed are the daily Psalm readings. Could I ask prayer of those of you who can? Hear this text from Psalm 16:

Psalm 16
A miktam of David.
1 Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.

2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing."

3 As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.

4 The sorrows of those will increase
who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.

5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.

6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.

8 I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,

10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

11 You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

So much of this text is about the Messiah, but as I am united to Him through His baptism and crucifixion, I can also claim that "nor will you let your Holy One see decay" -- except until the time to go arrives, and until then, "my body also will rest secure" and the Lord will "fill me with joy" in His presence.

It is that for which I have to cry out. This is not an easy journey. Please pray as well for Margie and the children as we seek to manage after my parents return to Brazil on February 11. We believe both in miraculous improvements between now and then, as well as in the provision of God to sustain us in our needs from many places after they're gone.

Thank you for your patience in hearing me. All is not misery. I can still work at home and at work for several hours each day. I am well fed and clothed, kept very nicely warm in this stab of Arctic cold. (Canada, I drive thy brutal wind far from our Great Plains! -- though my mother told me that I ought to be thanking God day by day for the privilege of living in this climate. Ugh. OK...) I seek to praise the Lord each day, and our family has been deeply refined in our spiritual learning. If anyone else also gains a deeper love and trust in Jesus Christ as a result of this, then my heart is filled with meaning.

I wish I had an old record by Bette Stalnecker that I could share with you in which she sings with her husband a simple, moving song. I'll pencil out the text (though it may be imperfect) and then try to get a copy available to link to:

All on the altar, dear Jesus,
Master, I give you my all.
Somewhere I know thou canst use me,
Master, I render my all.

My all for Thee, My all for Thee,
Who gave Thyself, Dear Lord, for me.
Thy will divine henceforth be mine,
To live for Thee, Dear Savior, Divine.

This is my prayer -- may I be used in some way, and may we all.



Sally said...


Thank you for writing. Thank you for your honest sharing.

You were used in Josiah's life as you sacrificially rocked him to sleep. And, you continue to be used in my life as you live in beautiful, humble faithfulness to God.

Peace and Grace to you,


Lord, thank you that John's body rests secure in you and that even now you are filling him with your joy.

Benjamin said...

This is Ben Bowman. I was so saddened to hear the news about your condition recently. I was talking to my Dad and he filled me in. It is so great to hear how the Lord is meeting you and healing you in the middle of this great storm. I suppose I never told you this but you have been a big influence in my life. Your worship leading at Rez was very formative of who I am now as a worship leader. I miss being at Rez and worshiping the Lord under your leadership. I also greatly appreciated your generosity and help when I came to you years ago and asked for worship song resources. I still use many of those great songs.

You should know, I'm applying for the Worship Pastor position in All Saints Church (AMIA) ( down in Chapel Hill, NC. I went to see them and interview with them. It went very well and I have high hopes that the Lord is opening doors for this to be our next place of ministry.

I am praying for you brother. Your blog is beautiful.

"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 be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you."
-2 Corinthians 4:7-12

John Walford said...


I often think back to our early January visit to you, Margie, and your parents.

As and when I can, I read your's and Margie's blog, and have just read this entry, which serves so well to both inform me of your current doings and striving, pains and sorrows, but also serves as a strong reminder of lessons learned along the way--lessons so easily pushed back by all the distractions of living.

You wrote: "I seek to praise the Lord each day, and our family has been deeply refined in our spiritual learning. If anyone else also gains a deeper love and trust in Jesus Christ as a result of this, then my heart is filled with meaning."

I know that your odyssey has refocused my spirituality and commitments, reminded me of much that I need to keep forefront, and am sure there are many, such as myself, who are being taught and built up by what you and Margie share through your respective blogs. You ARE a blessing to many, so, on your own terms, your heart may be--should be--as you say: "Filled with meaning" -for grace overflows from you, your witness, your words, into us--so strengthening other parts of the shared body of Christ. Thank you and bless you, John F, from John W.

lillster_14 said...


I am moved to tears every time I read your blog. I wanted to send a note personally but realized that I don't have your e-mail address. You remind me that God hears our simple requests and is so gracious to answer them, one at a time. Thank you for your fight of faith, for sharing it with us, for being so real.

And I loved the photos I saw of you and Maria Walford together as she is so dear to me too! I miss your mom and dad these days, as they encourage the faith of so many here in Brazil, including ours...but we are happy they can be there with you.

I pray for you, for great joy in living this day as one of His "pleasures forever" for you. They'll never stop! And for continued perspective that comes from the Word and not from medicine. Big hugs to Margie and the Ruchs.

With great Hope,
Susanna in Sao Paulo

Rachel Dawn Kornfield said...

John - I am praying that Psalm for you and with you. May the Lord continue to encourage and uplift you!

Rachel Kornfield

jimbentz said...

John, Thank you for the Psalm to meditate upon. You are an encouragement to me. I am praying for your physical healing. "I hear you" regarding the allopathic medical approach and its incompleteness. You would think that in oncology there would be a greater appreciation for the spiritual and miraculous. In science we arrogantly think we see all dimensions. Happily, this is not the case.

May The Lord give you strength and courage as you run this stage of your marathon.

May I help with anything that needs to be done? I can shovel snow. ;>) -Jim (

Anonymous said...

Be strong and courageous and do not be afraid, the LORD goes BEFORE you each and every day. He will NEVER forsake you. He will never forsake you.

Thank you for bearing witness to this scripture. Your strength and courage are inspiring beyond what you can see or imagine. God has used you and Margie to bring His Word and Light into my life over and over again. In the midst of great struggle and dangling fear, these God given traits shine brighter and more beautifully as a testimony to His awesome truth. You are daily in our prayers.
The Lord's blessings, Rachel Newsom

Resilient Hawk said...


I am praying for you and your family.

You know where your help comes from, your help comes from the Lord.

I attended Rez many years ago, during the time of William Beasley and Lyle Dorsett, and sometime aftertime.

Tony Trendl