(This is a faith – themed post)
The day I drove to my daughter’s house, worried because she had not answered her phone, was the worst in my life. Standing in the garden at the side, in the shadow of the house, I was told by the police the most agonising, heartbreaking, painful words I would ever hear. I don’t even remember the actual words, only the meaning.
I started screaming hysterically. Then through my tears I quoted Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd. … Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…
I found myself in the shadow of the valley of my daughter’s death. My son had died 29 years earlier. I was in agony. I didn’t know how I would survive the pain of loss, how I could keep living. But somehow I have. (You can read more about it in my book, which was the start of this blog.)
As hard as it has been – and there is no way to describe it – somehow the knowledge that a God of love was still with me has kept me breathing, hoping. He has walked with me, although it hasn’t always been apparent, either to me or those who have watched me struggle through the past 4 and a half years.
But in that time I have grown more accustomed to my life as it is now, and I’ve found ways to be useful to others. I find myself cheerful and at peace more often now, despite difficulties along the way, including the sudden deaths last year of my brother then one month later my mother (natural causes).
So to be in a “better place” and then discover I have kidney cancer is a shock. I am shocked. Astonished. Hopefully the cancer has been discovered early enough to be treated successfully, but I’m not looking forward to the operation and all that is involved. I must say though, as scary and unpleasant as this is, it is nowhere near as bad or traumatic as that horrible terrible day at Catherine’s house. Compared to that, this is relatively plain sailing. Yet it is still another valley.
Back in the valley. I can hardly believe it. It helps to stop and reflect. We don’t choose to walk through a Valley and nobody can really figure out why it’s our turn. But no matter where, how and why, we are not alone. I believe the Lord walks with us, if that’s what we want – and I do! Jesus is the healer, and he can and does heal when this is the right thing for us. I’m not going to quote clichés about every prayer being answered and everything in life having a silver lining, because I think prayer is more mysterious than that, and life more complex. God doesn’t always give us what we want, or even what we think we need.
I’m no theologian, but I do find great comfort in reading scriptures. I love old churches where prayers of faith have been repeated for centuries. I love hymns and songs that lift our spirits out of the mundane and up towards heavenly realms. I love the beauty of nature, just as I admire the creativity of artists and architects. There is so much in this world that can help us feel He is with us.
So now as I start on this next journey, I will try to draw on all of this.
Through the valley, yet again.