It was early morning on Valentine’s Day, 2014. My husband had been out photographing the Northern Lights and had been asleep in bed for half an hour. Suddenly, his whole body went rigid and began to shake violently. I knew he was having a seizure and long-ago first aid classes kicked in enough for me to remember that I needed to clear his airway. His face was smashed into his pillow, so I struggled to roll his stiff, convulsing body just enough so he could breathe. After what seemed like an eternity, the shaking stopped. He fell into a deep sleep. His breathing was loud and awkward, but at least it assured me that he was still here. I was confused and terrified.
Bryan was scheduled to perform his first wedding ceremony that night. His best childhood friend was getting married. Bryan wrote out what he was going to say at the wedding from his Emergency Room bed. He seemed calm, but I was barely holding it together.
Late in the afternoon, we finally got the results of Bryan’s MRI. He had a brain tumor in his left temporal lobe. He would meet with a neurosurgeon the following week. The news seemed to suck all the air out of the room. We were too young to be facing something like this! Our youngest was only three years old. Would he have to face life without a father? Would the girls have a daddy to walk them down the aisle at their weddings? How could I live without my best friend—the man I loved like my own life?
We somehow managed to collect ourselves and get to the wedding. Bryan handled it better than I did. I don’t remember much about the wedding except for feeling guilty that I couldn’t enjoy it more. I had been looking forward to this night for months. The fear of the future weighed me down like a bag of wet cement.
That night, we told the kids about their daddy’s tumor. After they were in bed, the dam broke and my tears wouldn’t stop. The weekend brought more of the same…staying calm for the kids and then sobbing when I couldn’t hold it in anymore.
The next week and a half was a blur of doctor appointments, testing, and surgery preparations. Bryan’s parents and siblings flew in for the surgery. Everyone around me was talking about God’s healing, about God’s plans for Bryan, and how God would work through this.
I had to leave the prayers for healing to others. By begging for his healing, I would be trying to hold onto Bryan for myself. I knew that God wanted me to release Bryan into His capable hands. I HAD TO LET GO. I had to trust God. I had to realize that God was (and is) enough. Though I was sometimes paralyzed with terror at the thought of life without my husband, I felt a strange peace as I relaxed into the Father’s arms.
In the dark days of surgery and recovery, I often felt God’s presence so tangibly that it felt like a third person in the room. He spoke to my heart with calm reassurances that He was going to take care of everything…even if Bryan wasn’t healed. Other times, the despair and frustration overwhelmed me. I try not to think about those times. It wasn’t pretty.
God prompted His people to offer help with things I didn’t even know we needed yet. From meals to childcare to a daughter’s birthday celebration, God met us at each step. He didn’t take the pain away, but He walked with us through each agonizing minute. No matter how much I failed, He stayed with me.
God chose to heal Bryan through modern medicine. There was no instant miracle, but just slow and steady progress as his brain healed from the trauma. His life expectancy can now be measured in decades, rather than in months or years, as is common to many brain tumors. His tumor was in an area that controls speech and hearing. Miraculously, those functions were unaffected!
Our story isn’t done. Life is fragile…brain tumors or not. Bryan and I are still discovering our new normal. But I have learned that God will be with us.
GOD. IS. ENOUGH.
Hard times can bring out the worst in us. The Father knows and understands. He remembers that we are made of dust. He doesn’t always take the pain away as soon as we’d like, but He will get us through it. He will turn the pain into something new and beautiful. Sometimes the miracle is the healing…as it was for Bryan. Sometimes the miracle is the growth that comes out of the pain…as it was for me.
Has the bottom fallen out of your life? Is the darkness covering you with suffocating closeness? Just say the name of Jesus. Call upon Him. He alone can carry you through the hard times. He longs to be your Abba, your Daddy, and to hold you close to Him.
When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown!
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:2-3 NLT