As I stepped into the room to visit the patient her husband was standing at the bedside. As I introduced myself to the patient her husband said, “She can’t hear you. She can only hear a little in her left ear.” He bent down and spoke into her ear that a chaplain was there to see her. She smiled when he said this and reached out her hand to me.
The husband went on to tell me that his wife had been battling cancer since 2011. The chemo and radiation she had received to fight her cancer had damaged her jaw, created a hole in the roof of her mouth, and now she could no longer sing in her church choir.
As he went on to talk about the long litany of side effects that his wife had experienced from her cancer treatments he began to weep. “My wife and I have been Christians since the 1970’s,” he said. “I don’t understand why all of these things have happened to her. I don’t know what the purpose of all of this is. I don’t know what God is going to do to help us. I don’t know when he is going to answer us.”
As he went on to tell me that he was a doctor who specialized in neurology the irony hit me right between the eyes. Here was a doctor whose job was to help people and alleviate their suffering. Now his wife was the patient and he couldn’t do anything to fix her disease or alleviate her suffering.
As I saw the suffering of these two people I understood their feelings of helplessness and frustration. I too felt helpless and had so many questions that I couldn’t answer.
So I joined with them in prayer and asked that God would show us the way. I asked that He would open our eyes to see what we could not see or understand. I asked Him to help us to find the way to finding some direction, some ideas as to what decisions we might make.
When your wife is the patient you come to a point in life where you question everything, you know very little, you have little power or control, and you can only cry out to God for deliverance. Being humbled and broken by the trials of life is not where we want to be but it can be a place where God can enter in.
For me as a chaplain, for this man and his wife, for all of you who are crushed under heavy loads in your life, may we find the grace of God that will carry us through.