“…rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer…” (Romans 12:12)
The year was 1981, and it was my first trip to Europe. I had taken the ferry from England to Belgium, and I was on my way via train to Munich, Germany. I spoke only one language at the time, English, and in those days, English wasn’t as widely spoken in Europe as it is today. So when my train jerked to a halt in the middle of the night, my coach was unhooked, and the rest of the train took off, leaving me and my coach behind, I was more than a little perplexed.
I tried to asked my fellow passengers, but to no avail. They didn’t speak English. I must say that I passed through some pretty stressful moments before another train came along, hooked itself to my coach, and we continued down the rails.
The interesting thing was, my fellow passengers didn’t seem nearly as stressed out by the little delay as I was. Was it possible they knew something I didn’t?
Isn’t it true that as long as whatever path we are taking in life follows an expected course, we don’t tend to stress about it? But the moment things appear to come to a standstill, we panic. And when my spiritual Train came to a standstill, three days after surgery, guess what I did…
I awoke that morning feeling frustrated and confused. Why was I so tired? Where had all of my innate energy gone? Shouldn’t I be bouncing back a bit quicker than this?
Rob told me it was normal. After all, I had just undergone major surgery. But no one had warned me I would feel so drained, so completely unable to do anything!
I’ve always been a person who could push myself to the maximum, and I have always found that even when I’m completely at the end of my reserves, there is always enough to accomplish the task at hand. But now, for the first time in my life, there simply were no hidden reserves!
As the morning went on, I became more and more melancholic. I ate breakfast and then took a nap. Rob helped me get dressed and brush my hair and teeth, and then I took a nap. I drank some water, and then I took a nap. But those naps didn’t serve to rebuild any energy!
It was Sunday, and I truly would have liked to have been at church rather than napping in my recliner. Rob knew this, and striving to lift my spirit, he pulled together a little church service. He called up a song on You-tube, a song I knew well, and asked me to sing it with him, and God began speaking to me through the words. Hey! It might be true that I didn’t have any energy, but I would rise up from my stupor. I would be energetic again!
Next he read me an inspirational story that he had just written. The setting was Normandy, France, and the year, 1944. It was the day the allied troops did the impossible by breaking through the Atlantic Wall and taking five different beaches in Normandy, France. Up until that point, the war had looked hopelessly lost. But after this one day of victory, the tide turned in the favour of the Allied forces.
The story then shifted to the crossing of the Red Sea. How trapped the Israelites must have felt, with an army on one side and a vast sea of water on the other. But God gave them victory! He opened the Red Sea for Israel, just as He opened the Normandy Beaches for the Allied troops! And God’s message to me was clear: He would also open the door for me to get my energy back.
Later that same day, as I was preparing to send out the Nugget, I happened to notice that it was a story I had written years earlier, inspired by a run down a dark country road. During that run, every time I looked out over the darkness of the fields bordering the road, I would become disoriented and my steps would veer towards the ditch that separated me from those fields. But if I forced myself to keep my eyes on the streetlight at the end of this long country block, I would stay on the road and my steps would go straight towards the end.
As I re-read this story, it spoke to me strongly: In my frustration over my lack of energy, I had taken my eyes off of my light, Jesus Christ! I had allowed myself to look out over the dark fields of the unknown!
Slowly I began to understand. God wasn’t abandoning me to my fatigue. He hadn’t unhooked His Engine from my coach. He hadn’t left me in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country without knowing the language. It was simply a little “bump” in the track. I hadn’t anticipated it, true enough, but just like the other passengers on that coach were not at all upset by the fact that we had been left behind, I also didn’t need to worry. God wasn’t there to just take care of my surgery. He was also there to help me through these very moments of no energy! He would hold me up! He would hold me together! All I had to do was stay on the Train!
I am happy to say that this was the last day I spent complaining about my lack of energy. I learned to patiently take each day as a new challenge, and little by little, my energy began to rebuild.
I hope I have learned something through all of this. I hope I have learned that I should never push myself to the limits of my energy reserves, for maybe, just maybe, that’s why I suffer from so many stress symptoms!
Do you think?
(To access the entire “Cancer Experiences” devotional series, please click here.)