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.