“I just don’t know what to think,” she said.
The diagnosis hadn’t even been a diagnosis. It was a report that a scan had seen an object where there shouldn’t be an object. She wasn’t originally here for the scan, but someone noticed something amiss. Someone ordered a scan. And now she knew about an object that no one in the world could describe for her with certainty.
The news landed in her lap on a Sunday morning with all the weight of a Sunday paper and none of the comics or entertainment or sports. She was going to have to tell the rest of her family. She was going to have to tell herself.
But now, first, she was telling the chaplain.
Before I left I said, “I’m sorry. I understand that Paul says that suffering can bring perseverance, and perseverance can bring character, and character can bring hope. But at this moment, that’s not encouraging at all, and so I want to tell you that I’m sorry.”
She smiled and said, “I know. Thank you.”
But that was before I left. We had already spent a long time talking, and listening, and praying. I learned parts of her story that were hard. I offered encouragement. I reminded her that other people could fill some of the caregiving roles she filled. I offered her the possibility of being willing to receive help from some people who loved her.
She told me about a family member who knows most of the answers to most of the situations that the family faces. The kind of person who is willing to offer those answers, sometimes even without being asked.
I told her about something James said about God. “If you lack wisdom,” James said, “Ask God, who gives generously without finding fault.”
I laughed. “If you asked your family member for advice,” I said, “I bet that you’d hear, ‘it’s about time you asked. Here’s what to do.'”
She smiled. “I think you are right.”
“That’s not what God does,” I said. “In this situation, when you don’t know what to think, you can ask for wisdom. You’ll never hear, ‘it’s about time.’ Because the one person in the world who knows exactly the nature of that object in your body loves you. He’ll give you wisdom about what to think.”
We spent some time asking for that wisdom. I’m confident it will come. But that doesn’t make it easy to wait. And wonder. And breathe.