When Nothing Else Could Help

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Gentle Reader,

My mind can’t make anything compute right now. It’s totally, completely bizarre to me that normal life continues on when I’ve got this major thing happening. I wake up, I go to work, I spend time with friends and family. On Saturday, I got to go shopping with my mom and I got to see a play. I plan menus and make grocery lists. (Well, okay, I assist Chris in those tasks). I empty the dishwasher and fold laundry.

And all the while I’m thinking about the thing.

My surgeon called Friday afternoon and told me that no biopsy is necessary. He is confident that the tumor is benign and wants to proceed with removal. One of the schedulers from his office is supposed to call me this afternoon or tomorrow. I’ll have dates and timelines. It’ll be 3-5 days in December. Days of pain pumps and refusing to eat Jell-O.

The tumor – a dear friend and her daughters helped me name it: Skolops (the Greek for “thorn in the flesh” as found in 2 Corinthians 12:7) “Boobies” McFartstein; we were feeling silly that day – is hanging out way up high, near my right lung, so it’s a challenging procedure. They’ll slice me open and use this spatula-like thing to hoist my ribs out of the way. They’ll take out some healthy liver along with Skolops and the area he’s affected. Then they’ll sew me back together, wrap me up tightly and send me off to a room reeking of disinfectant.

The freaking out began Saturday night.

I started dwelling. This is rarely a good thing, especially in the wee, dark hours. Everything seems bleak and hopeless.

What if it turns out to be cancer after all? What if I have to have a second surgery? What if something goes wrong and I die on the operating table? What if I can’t handle the pain? What if I’m in the hospital longer than expected? What if we can’t pay our bills? What if we lose the house? What if I’m not up to going back to work when I’m supposed to? What if I fall when I’m at home by myself and can’t get to the phone?

Even after examining all the questions rationally, I still feel scared. And sad. Being scared makes sense to me because we’re all scared of the unknown and of things we can’t control. But I don’t understand the sad. I don’t understand why I want to cry. Why I am crying as I write this.

So when we sang these words at church yesterday, my conviction that God is intimately involved in our lives deepened, because they were words I desperately needed to hear. He soothes us in our wailing before we even know to ask for it:

Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me! – James Rowe & Howard Smith

The hymn is centered on salvation, how it is Jesus alone who can make us right. That is so beautifully true, but, right now, the words bring something else to my mind:

…the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.

Like Peter, I chose to step out of the boat. I chose to trust rather than fear those long six months ago. I have struggled to keep my eyes on Christ. The waves have grown higher and the sky darker. The lightning flashes and the thunder rolls. Everything is amplified and so frightening. I take in the surroundings and lose sight of His face.

I slip beneath the water.

He is there immediately. He lifts me with complete ease.

He asks me the same question He asked the apostle: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)

There is no anger in His voice. The question is not meant to push me toward self-loathing. It is a reminder. Jesus has never failed me. Not once. He is with me now. He will be with me in the operating room. He will hold my head in His lap and speak peace into the secret places of my heart, the places only He and I know about. He will be there when the anesthesia wears off and I’m hit with the first, intense, vomit-inducing wave of pain. As the lines of the children’s prayer affirm, He will “watch and keep me.”

Whatever comes, Love will lift me.

My journey to faith. (15)


6 thoughts on “When Nothing Else Could Help

  1. Marie, I have been praying for you. I can’t tell you I know how you feel but I do know what it is like to have major surgery. At 34 I had to have an emergency c-section after 18 hours of hard labor. Exhausted and with a fever due to an infection in my uterus I was in severe pain, and scared. After 2 epiderals I didn’t even know the surgeon had cut me open. I felt no pain but have a huge scar to prove my daughter was too large for me to give birth otherwise. I was months recovering due to losing so much blood which also caused extreme anemia. Thank God for the miracle that the entire ordeal became. And for pain drugs like percocet. It was a serious situation that God protected me and our daughter from what could have been a much worse ending. She is 26 and beautiful. You can do this. If you ever want to talk let me know and I’ll message you my phone number. God is with you.


    1. Oh, thank you, darling. I hate to say that misery loves company, but it does help to hear stories of how God saw others through difficult, trying times. I’m thankful for the testimony you and your daughter are to His protecting hand!

      Thank you for your prayers and I may just take you up on that offer. 🙂


  2. I’ve been reading along, wishing that you didn’t have to go through all this, and praying for you. (By the way, Skolops “Boobies” McFartstein is the most epic name for a tumor ever! 🙂 Your trust in Jesus and your emotional honesty, even through all of this, is beautiful and encouraging- it encourages me in the things I am facing.

    Every morning I pray this little section of a Psalm to help center me before the rest of the day: “I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. He alone is my Rock and my Salvation, my fortress where I cannot be shaken. Oh my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge.” Psalm 62:5-6


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