Dealing with Pain and Suffering – Part II
A few months ago, I wrote an article for Spend Life Wisely that was entitled “Dealing with Pain and Suffering.” In this article, I talked about how bad things and tough times will inevitably come to all of us. It talked about allowing ourselves to experience our emotions and how we deal with challenges in life. I, often, have to remind myself that any attempt to share advice, help, or love, may come home to roost if it is not honest, transparent, and true. Just like the saying says, “You better practice what you preach.”
The article was wholly based, in fact, because I have experienced pain and suffering in a few forms such as:
- Having a child go off the deep end of life, choosing the most destructive life possible for her.
- Financial devastation. In 2001, I was a part owner in a commercial aviation company that was instantly put out of business after the events of 9/11. We lost everything.
- Adopting two grandchildren who needed a mom and dad. My wife and I now have 8 and 9 year old sons. Care-free retirement? Empty nesters? Not in our lifetime.
- Heath issues - my wife has a chronic, severe health issue.
These were the things I could draw upon, since they were personal struggles we had faced. Perhaps, some of them might resonate a little too personally for you too. Before you get to feeling too sorry for me, let me remind you, as I stated in the previous article, that our life is also awesome and amazing. I also talked about how I am able to see challenges as opportunities, so I can watch in amazement as God leads, overcomes, and blesses me.
Now, let me tell you about a new opportunity. Recently, I heard words that I have never heard before – “you have cancer.” There are many things that we do not want to hear in life, and this is probably right at the top for most of us. Most of us have had someone close to us who was diagnosed with cancer but, of course, it is different when they say that “you” have cancer. The hardest part was sharing the news with my wife and our immediate family.
After the initial trauma, I became very aware of the fact that I had a calm and peaceful feeling about the situation, instead of fear and foreboding. Now, several months into six-hour chemo treatments, and no clear outcome for the future, I remain calm, joyous, and blessed to have the life I live. Have I shed more tears? Yes. Primarily when I am touched by people who let me know they are praying for me and care for me. Their compassion and love moves me deeply.
There was a time when vanity brought me to tears for about 30 seconds. I have always had this tremendous head of hair, very gray, but very thick. About three weeks after my first chemo treatment, my wife said, “I wonder when your hair will start falling out.” She grabbed a little handful and the hair came out of my head. I went into the bathroom, grabbed the clippers, and proceeded to shave my head. As I looked in the mirror, a few tears started rolling down my cheeks. Imagine that, a 57-year-old man having a vanity attack about his hair. In about thirty seconds, the tears were interrupted by laughter as I thought about what some of my friends would think. They would be thrilled…now, I look like them! Those were the last tears I shed for myself.
Many of my friends and associates at work told me how amazing it is that I can smile, be positive, and deal with the chemo and cancer. Of course, I could pretend that it’s just me. Yes, I’m just superman. But, I’m not. If it was up to me and my strength, it would be a different story. By myself, I’m weak and fearful. Thank God, literally, I do not have to handle struggles and challenges alone. As I said in the previous article, I do not believe we, as human beings, are equipped to handle the trials and tribulations that we will endure without help. The good news is that help is always available.
Years ago, I made the decision to follow Christ. Through our relationship, He has proven his authority over all things. He now lives in me, and I am able to rely on his strength, not mine. It is amazing. Worry? No, because I trust Him. Fear of death? No, because I trust Him. Does this mean I believe I will have a miraculous healing and will never deal with cancer again? No, not at all. I don’t know what the future holds 3 years or 30 years down the road, but it doesn’t matter. Life is joyous and, because of Him, it doesn’t end here.
If you are struggling with the challenges of life, no matter what they are, there is strength you can tap into and there is love, peace, and forgiveness beyond anything we can imagine. There’s no charge. Frankly, there is nothing you can do to deserve it. It’s free, and it’s called grace. For God so loved the world that he gave His son for us to die on the cross, while we were still sinners, so that we may have life and have it abundantly. He won’t kick down your door, but He is knocking on it. You don’t have to go far to find Him. If there was a way that I could give you the same strength and peace I have in Him, I would. But, I can’t. It is a decision that we will all have to make on our own. All I can do is tell you that life is infinitely better with peace, hope, and joy, rather than the worries of this world.