24 hours to decide.

That’s the message some friends got. 24 hours to decide whether to try moving ahead with an adoption. And they had no real assurance that moving ahead would ever end up with the child in their arms.

“She might not make it through the night.” That’s what another friend heard last week as his wife, sedated, was in the emergency room. There was a walnut-sized white spot on a scan standing for red blood leaking.in her brain.

“Our gas is scheduled for disconnection this afternoon” is what I heard when I answered the phone, a child fussing in the background. “Do you help?”

“It’s probably cancer, in the thyroid.” He’s a junior in college, he’s getting married in May. Of the kinds of cancer to have, it’s a good one. That’s what everyone who knows says. But that’s a really hard truth to hear. It’s not your neck, or your son’s neck, on the table.

What everyone wants most is fixing, for the uncertainty to be gone and the situation to be fixed. Instead, the clock has twenty-four hours and the hospital lost the fast-forward to brain resolution button, and the gas wrench can only be stopped with cash and this Friday morning at 5 is years away.

So what can I say without sounding like a Hallmark card? “It will be fine.”

“God, you know what you are wanting, you see how this all turns out. Because you are God. And I’m not. So give us wisdom, because that’s something to ask for. Give us peace, because we are having this conversation. And what I’d like, since it’s okay to tell you that, is for Joy to not die. And Jordan to be healed. And S___ to find home. And we’ll take care of the gas bill. And help our unbelief.”

6 thoughts on “24 hours to decide.

  1. Joanna Paterson

    I don’t know how to reply, but I wish to tell you how moved I was by reading I was, and how grateful I am that there are people in the world who can live with the discomfort of staying beyond fixing.


  2. Rich Dixon

    Those are the moments when the fancy theology kinda disintegrates. You’re left with no answers except “you’re God, I’m not.”

    I suspect that’s right where He wants us, which is absolutely no help when someone looks to you for an answer you don’t possess. Like Joanna, I’m thankful for those (like you) who constantly remind us that fixing the world isn’t why we’re here, that our purpose in painful times is our presence.

    I’m thankful that Jesus knows about hurt and for His presence. And still…it hurts.


    1. Jon Swanson

      just for the record, I’ve already had two calls this morning that are in this same kind of gut-wrenching struggles. And having written this post doesn’t help so much as it reminds me of how much people hurt and how much I need to keep learning how to listen to their hearts and listen for God. And not offer simplistic answers.

      Other than this: Someone asked me to ask you all to pray for his mom who is waiting for biopsy results and who has a history of cancer. I suggested that he could talk to God, too.

      He said, “God’s not going to want to talk to me with all I’ve done.”

      I said, “when your kids have screwed up, and then are in trouble, you would be frustrated if they said, ‘but look at all I’ve done.’ You would say, ‘I know, but I love you. Let’s look at this.'”

      So ask God to help Mike and his mom, please.


  3. Jill

    I get so frustrated when I can’t help. My humanity is such a stumbling block. My conservative views get in the way of my frustration at social injustice and my beliefs are incongruent. The only thing that brings any kind of peace is my belief that God is God and I am not.


  4. Frank Reed

    Help our unbelief. That’s the crux of this for us all. We need the extra push the gets us past ourselves and directly in God’s perfect will. I pray that all of these situations work to glorify God in each hurting life. It’s all in His hands and that is a relief. Easy for me to write, huh?


  5. Pingback: 10 months later: 24 hours to decide | 300 words a day

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