Thursday, February 04, 2010

Where do you see God in this?

by Jenni

I figure I must be about two-thirds of the way through my seminary career. In my time here, I have learned a lot. I have looked at the creation story in ways I never expected. I’ve learned about the Gospels and prophets. I read through stories in the Old Testament that are ignored in Sunday school. I have learned about educational models and bringing faith into the home (I have a children, youth and family concentration). I have focused on relational ministry and the church’s mission in the world. I have found myself beginning a lot of conversations with, “Did you know…” And over and over, I have been asked to answer, “Where do you see God in this?”

If I’m honest, of all the things I’ve been asked at seminary, I have the most difficult time answering this question.

Let me explain. Over the last six months, I have been watching my mother die. Last summer, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. With an astounding speed, the cancer metastasized to her bones and eventually to her brain. She has been fighting, but the cancer and the medication have been taking their toll and my mom is increasingly unable to take care of herself. I’ve watched my dad—her husband of 40 years—deal with doctors, dozens of medications, treatments and watching his wife slowly drain away. My family and I live with my parents and every day I find myself asking, “Where is God in this?” Because I can’t seem to find God in any of this.

This past week, I received my answer.

My dad had been at work all day. My mom was having an especially difficult day. Because the cancer is in her bones, she is in constant pain. She sleeps a lot. She has lost her hair and lost a lot of weight. She cannot walk on her own but with help can move from the living room (where she sleeps on the couch) to the adjoining room (where she sleeps in a hospital bed). Dad was helping get mom ready for bed. I watched as my dad gently lifted her to stand. Gently washed her up and changed her clothes. Helped her to get into bed and he sat next to her in the chair he moved from the living room and squished into her den-now-bedroom. He held her hand and stroked her face. I don’t remember them talking at all.

Things have been messy and confusing at home. Our days are filled with more bad news from the doctor than good. We cry. We’re angry. We fight. Family issues rise to the surface. My mom doesn’t say thank you. I’ve thrown my share of tantrums. And still my dad loves his wife and he will take care of her as long as he needs to. He will get her prescriptions filled. Take her to the hospital for treatment after treatment. Sit with her for hours holding her hand and reading to her. Dad is constantly stroking her face which I see is comforting for both of them.

My mom is still sick. We’re all still struggling under the burden of it. Nothing is fixed, but my mom isn’t going through this alone. That is where God is.


Anonymous Susan said...


What a beautiful and poignant reminder of God's presence even in the midst of ugliness, disease, and anger. God does not promise to make life perfect, but God does promise to be with us through whatever life--or dying--brings. My prayer for you and your family as you follow this path none of you would have chosen is that you will know and see God's presence alongside you just as you have seen it in your father's loving touch.

2/04/2010 04:34:00 PM  
Blogger Nina said...

Thanks for sharing this. AND for your honesty that life as a Christian isn't always perfect, or beautiful, or even okay. Peace.

2/21/2010 06:06:00 PM  

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