Snowball Gets a More Specific Diagnosis!

Snowball

Yesterday was a pretty easy day. We had to be out of the house early and at the facility where the chemo will be administered by 8:30AM. (It’s a 45-minute drive.) The purpose of this particular visit was to go over what the treatments will be like, how long they will take and what side effects we need to watch for. We also met with a dietician and a social worker. Then…we got to go home!

We are pretty doggone excited that we don’t have to go ANYWHERE today. I expect there will be a lot of hanging around the house, watching movies and playing board games! Then, of course, there’s Sunday. And until I am physically not able to, I have every intention of being in church on Sunday- in the pulpit and behind the drums. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. AND…it’s very therapeutic!

If you have been reading this blog of late, you know that they had classified my cancer as “poorly differentiated”. It turns out that the biggest reason they classified it as such was because they simply didn’t get enough viable tissue on the first round of biopsies. There is another word that has been bandied about since this all started. We first heard the word 2 weeks ago yesterday- Friday, June 9. The word is Anaplastic. The first doctor who talked to us after that first round of biopsies (And I mean RIGHT after!) said that, while it couldn’t yet be substantiated, the initial thought was Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer.

They are classifying my cancer as Stage 4 Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer. What confirmed that for me was seeing it yesterday on a form at the facility that will be administering the chemo treatments. They have been pretty clear- there is no cure for this. The chemo and radiation are designed to “knock it down” without knocking ME down too far. The hope beyond that is a Clinical Trial.

When I had the brain tumor- the VERY rare brain tumor- 4 years ago, I was undergoing experimental treatments in an effort to treat something they didn’t know how to treat. At the time, I wrote a blog referencing, of all things, the old cartoon Pinky and the Brain. They were lab rats. And a recurring character in the show was another lab animal- a guinea pig named Snowball. At the time, I compared myself to Snowball. I now realize that I am about to, once again, become Snowball the Guinea Pig!

My wife, who is often the smarter of the two of us, said something recently that really resonated with me. I told her that, while I am absolutely going to do this treatment, with a smile on my face, a joke on my lips and God in my heart, I don’t want to. But she reminded me that I have devoted much of my life to trying to help others. What I went through with the brain tumor helped the doctors take another step in how to treat it. And what I do now does the same thing- my going through the treatment and Clinical Trial will help provide more data that will, one day, have a profound positive impact on someone else. So…bring it on! Snowball is ready!

We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. I will continue to update on this site, so check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post!

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Blood Draws and Earning My Merit Badge!

merit badge

The saga continues. Yesterday was the trip to Bettendorf, Iowa to meet with the folks who will be doing the chemo infusion. Mostly, it was height, weight, PB, temperature and then a conversation with the doctor. Then, we were sent back to the lobby to wait for them to be ready to take blood.

We sat out there for a few minutes and then they came and got me. Now, a bit of “back story”. I had a LOT of needles inserted in me when I had the brain tumor. And, without sounding too much like I’m bragging, I had GREAT veins! They were always glad to see me and I was always “easy” to get a needle in.

Well, I don’t know what happened, but I no longer hold the title of “Best Veins in the World”! I have had several “sticks” in the past few weeks and they haven’t always gone well. My arms are kind of…trashed. So I prepped the young woman as to what she could expect. She looked. And looked some more. And then…went and got help! The second young woman looked my arms over, picked the least offensive spot (the best she could hope for!) and applied the tourniquet.

Meanwhile, yet another young woman came in and said, “Are you Mark?” (If ONLY I had said, “NO!”) She then asked if I could come back in at 8:30 this morning. I told my wife later that I’m quite sure my face and tone of voice gave away my disappointment! I then apologized and told her that, yes- we would be there. I shared that, after spending EVERY week day for over two weeks in some hospital or doctor’s office, we were looking forward to a “day off”!

I then turned to the woman currently taking my blood and said, “You did great!” The “appointment woman” said, “Well, I distracted you!” I smiled and said, “I have ADHD- I’m not hard to distract! Have you seen the movie Up? I’m Doug the Dog! Squirrel!” (If you know me at all, “make ’em laugh” is a core value of mine!)

So today, we head BACK to Bettendorf for “teaching”. OK- I’ll be honest for a moment. (But JUST a moment!) The next words after “teaching” caused the steroids in my body to try and rise up to full-blown ‘Roid Rage! She said, “We want to go over everything with you again…because people are usually pretty traumatized and don’t really hear and process everything the first time!” I GREATLY appreciate that sentiment- but I have talked PLENTY! My wife and I have sat for HOURS and HOURS listening to people talk. We are both relatively smart and ask good questions. So, frankly, we haven’t missed anything. BUT- if they want us there today…we’re there! (I’m trying SO hard to earn my “Works and Plays Well With Others” merit badge!)

At this point, it appears that my first 3-hour chemo infusion will happen this coming Monday morning, followed by the first of 5 radiation treatments for the week. We get the weekend off, and then we will repeat that schedule exactly the following week. By then, the pathology from last Wednesday’s Deep Core Needle Biopsy will be in and they will have decided if there is a Clinical Trial I am eligible for.

One last tidbit- I lost 13 pounds in about 10 days when this all started. (Stress, not being hungry, hard to swallow- take your pick!) Once we found that out, we have been very proactive about food, protein and calories. But with chemo and radiation about to start, my wife is concerned about me getting enough nutrition over the next couple of weeks or so. So- I get dessert with EVERY meal! Jealous? You SHOULD be!

We greatly appreciate your prayers, love and support. I will continue to update on this site, so check back regularly or simply subscribe to receive an email every time there is a new post!

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Large-Needle Biopsies AND The Largest Truck Stop in the World

Iowa 80

Yesterday, my wife and I made our “pilgrimage” to The University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City. Just a reminder- that is a SOLID 3-hour round-trip. We got there about 9:45AM, dodging raindrops the last 30 minutes of the drive. (I’m not really sure why people use that expression- “dodging raindrops”. Not only would you look pretty silly trying to dodge raindrops in a car…swerving frantically at 75 MPH on the interstate might NOT be the best choice!)

Parking at that hospital is…interesting. We have now tried three of the four “ramps” (I.e. Parking Garages) as well as having used Valet Parking 2 or 3 times. Regardless of what the maps show, or where you park…OR where you have to go- nothing is terribly close to anything!

The spot we had to go to was the SAME spot we were in about 10 days ago- the Radiology floor. I was there for a Core Needle Biopsy. Those 10 days ago, they did what totaled 12 needle biopsies of my neck. The problem turned out to be that they needed more tissue than had been “harvested” from that day in order to do “next-level” genetic testing. They are trying to see if I qualify for a Clinical Trial.

So got to go back for more! Yeah! They lay you on a table- naked from the waist up. (Gasp! The Pastor said…”naked”!)They position you with a pillow under your neck, so that your head falls back and your neck is more exposed. They then turn your head to the left, offering more exposure of the right side.

A technician then uses an ultrasound machine to “show” the thyroid and surrounding tissue. The doctor then injects what turned out to be a LOT of Lidocaine, through two injections in the neck, to deaden the area. They then take a large-gauge needle and…insert! The image on the screen from the ultrasound guides them to the exact spot. Then, some kind of trigger is pulled (or a button is pushed or whatever- I couldn’t actually SEE too well!) and a VERY distinct “SNAP” sound happens. (Imagine a large stapler or a hole punch putting a hole in a sheet of plastic.) That is the needle apparatus actually gathering the sample. A total of three insertions and SNAPS later, they were wiping the blood off my neck and sitting me up!

On the way home, we fulfilled a long-standing dream of mine- we went to The Largest Truck Stop in the World! (And yes, I AM kidding about the “life-long” dream and no, I am NOT kidding about going to The Largest Truck Stop in the World!) It was lunchtime and we thought, “What the heck!” So, in we went! After seeing Arby’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Subway, DQ/Orange Julius AND a sit-down restaurant, we settled on Wendy’s. After lunch, a quick run through the Convenience Store part of that sprawling megalopolis for some Ibuprofen and salt water taffy for our younger son, it was a Willy Nelson song- “On the Road Again”! The afternoon featured a decent nap by yours truly! (I AM a party animal, aren’t I?!)

Today’s agenda features a trip to Bettendorf, Iowa (another of the Quad Cities) to meet with the folks who will doing the chemo part of my treatment. We MIGHT find out today when chemo and/or radiation will actually start. Monday seems to be a distinct possibility.

This is not the journey we would CHOOSE to be on, BUT- it’s the journey we’re on. Can’t change that. So, we make the best of a bad situation. We hold our heads high. We continue to find the humor in life. We continue to make the most of each day. And we continue to hold fast to our faith. God IS good, all the time.

Thanks for your continued prayers, love and support. You will never know how much it means to my family. Please keep checking back for updates or simply go to top of this page and subscribe- you will receive an email link with every new post.

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Casper, the Friendly Cancer Patient!

Mask-2

Yesterday was an…interesting day. I ACTUALLY went to work for a while! (I KNOW! It’s amazing!) I managed to get part of this week’s sermon done, take care of some other things AND lead both a Staff Meeting and a Worship Planning meeting. All by 11:20AM! (I think I sprained my shoulder just now, patting myself on the back!)

Then, at 11:30AM, my wife and I left the house. Our first stop was the local hospital, to pick up a CD of the CT scan they did on my neck recently. (Does that make it a CT CD?) Then, it was a 40-minute drive to the Cancer Center in Davenport, Iowa. If you are currently thinking, “Davenport, Iowa? I thought you were going to Iowa City, Iowa?”, then let me explain. I AM a patient at the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City. But the Cancer Center in Davenport is 50 minutes closer- ONE WAY! So my radiation treatments will be done there.

We got there and delivered the CT CD, along with the CD of the CT of my chest AND the CD of the PET scan of top of head to knees. Then it was…wait. Then, a LOT of talking with a LOT of people about what happened, what’s happening and what WILL happen. Then there were telephone conversations between doctors in Iowa City and doctors in Davenport, followed by more “in person” conversations! (I have talked a LOT in the last 10 days! And yes, you can insert YOUR joke HERE!)

Then, I went to be fitted for the radiation mask. That, let me tell you, is a weird deal! First, why a mask? Because they are treating such a confined area in my neck, they need to A. make sure I am in the proper position while keeping everything perfectly stationary and B. protect that “parts” that WON’T be radiated. The mask does that. The picture at the top is a nearly perfect representation of what mine looks like.

When they prepped me for the mask, I SPECIFICALLY asked them for Iron Man!

iron man

They led me to believe that was possible! They lied! The end result was much less Iron Man and much more Casper!

Casper-casper-the-ghost-35874268-964-813

So, what’s it like to get fitted for the mask? Imagine you lie down on your back on a table. Then, two people (one on each side) take a very hot, very wet, somewhat sticky, stretchy tarp (No, that’s NOT a typo- tarp!) and, quick like a bunny, bring it down over your face and immediately stretch it down to the table. (Imagine someone trying to suffocate you with a heavy, wet towel! Fortunately, the material they use is a mesh- you can breathe through it!) They then quickly use their fingers to form-fit it to your face, neck and shoulders, pushing it into your eye sockets, around your mouth, under your chin, etc. Then, you wait while it cools and hardens.

Once that is done, they took it off to give me a break. Then they snapped it back on to do a CT scan, to make sure that the mask is right. Then the Radiology Oncologist came in to look at the scan to see if it was sufficient. It wasn’t! So they put the mask BACK on and re-did the scan, including the lungs that time. Then…we went home!

Today is the 3-hour drive back to Iowa City so they can stick an even bigger needle in my neck to get a better biopsy. That data will guide the doctors toward possible Clinical Trials that I would be eligible for. Then, on Thursday, we go to Bettendorf, Iowa (The OTHER of the Iowa-side Quad Cities) to meet with the doctors who will be administering the chemo treatments. If all the planets align, chemo (once a week for two weeks) and radiation (5 days a week for two weeks) will both start next Monday.

As always, my family and I thank you for your love, prayers and support. We hold fast to the very real fact that God is good, all the time. It is our faith that is carrying us through. Check back for updates, or simply subscribe the to blog to receive an email every time there’s an update.

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

It’s “Junior Rodeo” On!

junior rodeo

I like the TV show The Big Bang Theory. (I liked it the best when they still focused heavily on comic-book loving science geeks- it still felt a bit more…autobiographical then!) There’s an episode where Penny and Sheldon are “at odds” with each other. At one point, Penny tells Leonard that she can handle Sheldon, sharing that her dad made her participate in Junior Rodeo. She bragged that she could rope and castrate a calf in 8 seconds! Later in the episode, Sheldon ramps up the antagonism. Penny turns to Leonard and says, “It’s on. It’s Junior Rodeo on!”

Yesterday’s trip to The University of Iowa Hospital established that it is, in fact, Junior Rodeo on! Here’s what we found out-

The Radiology Oncologist wants to start radiation therapy immediately. I will be fitted for some kind of mask today. (They described it as “like a hockey mask”! I wonder if my hometown St. Louis Blues need a new guy in the nets?!) I will have 10 sessions- Monday-Friday for two weeks.

In the meantime, however, the Oncologist wants a better biopsy of the thyroid, feeling that the extensive needle biopsies I had didn’t produce enough tissue for proper genetic testing. The genetic testing from the upcoming core biopsy will help them decide if there is a drug trial that I might benefit from.

In addition to the radiation, I will be having what is currently planned as two rounds of chemo.

Along the way, I might need a feeding tube installed in my stomach. Along the way, I might need a tracheotomy.

The truth is that there is simply nothing that is currently available that will cure what I have. They keep telling me, “Yours is very unique” and “a VERY low percentage of people get this” and “the drug company is only looking for 10 people nationwide who have what you have…and they are having a hard time finding them”. Between this and my “1 of only 19 people EVER with the type of tumor in the place you have it” brain tumor…I’m getting a little tired of being a special medical snowflake!

This is not the news we wanted to get. This is not what you plan on when you try and map out your life. But- here it is. So, I have a choice. I A. can whine and cry, fall into a deep depression and waste whatever time I do or don’t have. OR, I can B. commit to living every day to the fullest, commit to being the best husband, dad, pastor and human I can be, commit to proclaiming EVERY day that God is good, all the time. Hopefully, you know me well enough to know that I choose B!

Thank you for your prayers and support. I will continue to keep you posted in this space as this thing unfolds in time and space.

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

Apparently, I am “Poorly Differentiated”!

thyroid

A neck CT scan. A chest CT scan. A “top of head to knees” PET scan. Not one but two scopes up the nose and down the throat. 12 needles biopsies in the neck. Contrast dye injected in my veins. Radioactive glucose injected in my veins. A trip to the ER.

That’s a list of the fun I’ve had over the past 10 days. And after all that, we have some answers. And what has been revealed sounds like something I made up! I have “poorly differentiated” thyroid cancer. When the doctor said that, I had to ask, “WHAT?!” It took him not one, not two but three tries before he explained it in a way that made sense to me. In a nutshell, “poorly differentiated” cancer is when the cells have degraded to the point that, while identifiable as cancer, are no longer identifiable as, for instance, thyroid cells.

The neck CT scan revealed that the thyroid, as well as the lymph nodes in the neck, are cancerous. The chest CT scan revealed that the cancer has spread to the chest. And the PET scan revealed that it has also begun to spread to my lungs.

Often, the initial approach to thyroid cancer is removal of the thyroid. But because this cancer has spread, it makes surgery not a terribly viable alternative. Surgery in that area is risky as it is- a LOT of nerves, breathing and blood flow issues to contend with. And if surgery wouldn’t “get it all” anyway, surgery is not an option.

So, today brings the next step in this process. We are meeting with an oncologist and a radiology oncologist to talk about treatment options. My guess is that an intense “cocktail” of chemo and radiation will be what they recommend. We’ll see.

Bottom line- NOT the news we wanted to hear. The truth- we have NO idea where this will lead and how it will end. Here’s what I DO know- God is good, all the time. I have NO gear to think that God “did this” to punish me for some sin. I have NO gear to think that God gave me “the cancer” to test me. I have cancer because we live in a fallen world. Because our bodies are fragile and frail. Because life is capricious.

I told the church we currently serve something yesterday morning. I said that, regardless of anything else, until either God or the Bishop tells me otherwise, I am still the pastor of The Aledo United Methodist Church. I have EVERY intention of that continuing. I’m a pastor. Period. I serve at the whim of God. So as long as He gives me breath to serve…I serve. I am simply not smart enough to understand the word “quit”!

I will continue to use this forum to keep you posted on how things are going, so please come back often to check for updates. (Better yet, subscribe and you will receive and email when there IS an update!) My family and I greatly appreciate and covet your prayers.

Thanks for stopping by- I pray you have a blessed day. Please make sure and come back again tomorrow, and stick with Jesus!

UPICKEM2: JOB

UPICKEM2 Week 3 Logo

      My name is Job. You can always tell when someone isn’t as well-versed on the Old Testament- they pronounce my name “job”! But it’s Job. When you hear my name, the words “the patience of” often precede it. I was a wealthy man living in a place called Uz- you know it better as modern-day Jordan. I’ll be honest- my life was good. I had a big family. I had thousands of head of livestock. I had money. I had land. I had it all. AND- I was a good guy- “blameless” and “upright”, always so careful to avoid evil. And then, one day, everything changed.

     Satan showed up at God’s front door. There’s a surprise. And he brought with him a plan. The plan revolved around…me. Satan openly questioned my faithfulness. But God assured him I was “a righteous dude”. Satan argued that the ONLY reason I was “good” at all was because God had given me so much. He said that, if everything was taken away from me, I’d curse God’s name so fast His head would spin. The gauntlet had been thrown down. And God allowed Satan to test me. And BOY did he test me!

     Over the course of one day- ONE day- I got four separate messages. And those four messages, combined, informed me that I had lost almost basically EVERYTHING- children, servants, livestock, money and land to a combination of invaders and natural catastrophes. I was devastated. I tore my clothes. I shaved my head. I fell into a deep state of mourning. And yet, I continued to praise God.

     That was not the response Satan wanted. So he went back to God and asked for another shot at me. God again allowed him to test me. This time, I developed horrible, painful sores all over my body. People couldn’t even stand to look at me. My own wife encouraged me to curse God, give up just die already. But again…I refused. I struggled terribly with my circumstances…but I remained steadfast in my faith.

     So there I was- down and out, covered in open sores, struggling to find any sense of meaning or purpose. And in the midst of my desperation, along come my three best friends- Eliphaz (el-i-fas), Bildad, and Zophar (zo-par). And things started really well. They didn’t offer up pithy little sayings they had read on a Hallmark card. They didn’t try to tell me that God had a plan for me or that everything would be okay or that God needed another angel. In fact, they didn’t try to tell me…anything. Instead, they just sat with me. In silence. For seven days. They sat and mourned with me in silence for seven days. Sometimes, just being there, silent, is the best thing you can offer.

     Finally, on the seventh day, I started talking. I had had it. I was mad. I cursed my life, wishing I had never been born. I said that feeling the light of life only intensified my misery. And that seemed to open the flood gates. My friends beat on me like a rented mule. First, Eliphaz (el-i-fas) said that, even though I had comforted plenty of other people, I clearly never really understood their pain. He said that my suffering was due to some sin I had committed. Bildad and Zophar joined in, agreeing that I had obviously offended God by sinning. They said I needed to be more blameless. Bildad even went as far as to say that my children- my children- brought their deaths upon themselves. Zophar said that whatever I’d done wrong probably deserved even greater punishment than I was receiving. I guess they thought they were helping, but they were simply making me mad. In fact, I called them “worthless physicians who whitewash their advice with lies”. Pretty harsh!

     All of this led me to examine my relationship with God. I found myself questioning  why God judges us based on our actions when He could just as easily change our actions or forgive our behavior. I also began to wonder how we can possibly make God happy- He is, by design, unseen and beyond our ability to understand. We can’t sweet-talk Him. He can’t be deceived. And the truth is that we don’t even understand ourselves well enough to plead our case to God. I begged for someone who could be the go-between from me to God…or that God would just send me to the place of the dead and get it over with.

     My “friends” were upset that I would dare to NOT accept their infinite wisdom. They felt I lacked the appropriate respect- fear- of God. But I stood firm, assuring them that, if I HAD done evil, it was MY problem and not theirs. I also held fast to the conviction that there was a “witness”- a Redeemer- in heaven who would defend my innocence. I went on to complain about how unfair it was that God seems to let wicked people prosper while us innocent people suffered. I wanted to confront God, complain face to face, but I couldn’t physically find Him.

     Suddenly, a new contender showed up- Elihu (EL-i-hue). He jumped into the debate and claimed that I was spending too much energy vindicating myself instead of God. He tried to tell me that physical suffering provides us with the opportunity to…realize God’s love and forgiveness?! We experience God’s love through physical pain? He then agreed with the other guys that I must have done something bad to experience so much suffering. He even said that I talked too much!

     Finally, thankfully- God interrupted, calling out from the middle of a storm. And He cut right to the chase. “Who is this that obscures My plans with words that have no knowledge?” He then told me to hang onto my hat- He was going to question me and He expected an answer. And here’s what He asked me-

     “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Who marked off its dimensions? Who laid its cornerstone while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? Have you ever given orders to the morning or shown the dawn its place? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high?”
     When God has finished, I could barely speak. But I managed to say this, “I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. Surely, I spoke of things I didn’t understand, things too wonderful for me to know. My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You and so I repent in dust and ashes.”

     In the end, God restored my fortunes, giving me twice as much as I had before. Everyone I knew came and ate with me. They comforted and consoled me. God blessed my life even more than He had before.

     Easy to hear that last part and simply think, “OK- happy ending!” But we all know that my story explores some of the most profound questions we have. And right at the top of that list is this- why? Why did this happen? Why do bad things happen to good people? I mean, we all have bad times. But some of us seem to get more than our share!

     So let’s cut to the chase- address the 400-pound gorilla in the room. Do I believe that God CAUSED my pain and suffering? CAUSED it? No, I absolutely do NOT. I don’t have a gear for God, Who loves me more than I could fathom, wanting to intentionally cause me pain and suffering. OK, so if he didn’t CAUSE it…did He ALLOW it? Yes. If I believe that God is all-powerful and can do anything He wants, then I have to believe that He could stop anything from happening. And so if anything happens, He allowed it to happen. Note the difference between “cause” and “allow”.

     There is a Greek word- dokime. It means “to test the genuineness of something”. It referred to measuring the purity of gold. Tests have a purpose. They’re the process by which the genuineness of our faith is displayed. The question is- does God test us just to make sure we’re worthy? Does our loving Creator have a mean streak that allows Him to deal us the worst hand possible…just to see how we’ll react? I can’t speak for you, but for me, the answer to that question is, “No.” The tests come from life. Life is unpredictable. Life is capricious. Life is fleeting, transitory. Some people get the weight of the world dumped on them while others seem to skate through relatively unscathed. God doesn’t cause our trials and tribulations. The fallen nature of our world does. What God does is finds ways to use those tribulations for the greater good. How many times have you heard a tragic story about a kid who dies WAY too young from some insidious disease? As you read the article, you get madder and madder at the injustice of it all. But then, you get to the part about how many lives that kid touched. About how many people he or she impacted. About the foundations and ministries that have grown out of their short life and tragic death. There are kids who didn’t see their 6th birthday who impacted more people in their 5 short years than I will if I live to be 100.

     We like everything neatly pigeon-holed and labelled. We want the world to simply make sense. And so, we look for an explanation for everything. But the truth is that the “why” is often elusive- like trying to grab ahold of a wisp of smoke. Bad things don’t only happen to bad people. Bad things…just…happen. There are lots of answers we will simply never know- this side of Heaven.

     Why does God allow all sorts of “bad things” to happen? The truth? I don’t know. I don’t know. And yet…I trust. I may never know the specific reason for my suffering, but I trust in a sovereign, holy, righteous God because His ways are perfect. Through this trial, I came to know God in a way I could not have imagined before. And so, we are left with two choices- fight tooth and nail for answers we simply can’t find…or just trust. Which one will you choose?

     There is another Greek word- upogrammos. It means “a writing copy.” It refers to kids practicing their handwriting in a workbook. They reproduce every stroke of every letter, learned to reproduce the teacher’s writing. God is our teacher, our pattern. We want to try and reproduce His approach to life’s difficulties as much as possible.

     It’s pretty easy to trust God when you’re putting in the short grass. When everything makes sense, it’s easy to see God as large and in charge. But what about when the wheels fall off the bus? What about when you can’t seem to distinguish up from down? It is exactly THEN when a strong sense of trust and faith is most needed.
     To quote those great theologians Ra, I lost everything today. And yet, in the very depths of despair, I was able to utter what proved to be one of the most profound declarations of faith ever recorded, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”.

      You can’t shorten your time in the wilderness, but you can absolutely lengthen it. Our responsibility is to trust God, to submit to His will whether we understand it or not. When we do that, we’ll find God more clearly in the midst of our trials. We’ll see more clearly God’s true magnificence and be able to say, “My ears had heard of You…but now my eyes have seen You”.