Jesus FIRST—When Everything Falls Apart

Carol DunfeeTrialsLeave a Comment

My husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Valentine’s Day in 2014. To say that my life was turned upside down would be an understatement. In the days between the initial Emergency Room visit and the surgery to remove his tumor, I had to face a decision.
MANY people prayed for healing from all over the country. Several people even told me how to pray for his healing. The problem was that I couldn’t do that. Yes, you heard me.  I COULD NOT PRAY FOR HIS HEALING. I can’t explain it exactly, but I knew that God did not want me down on my knees begging for my husband’s healing. He wanted me on my knees giving my husband back to Him.
There was the decision.
  • Would I hold on to my husband and beg for healing?
  • Or would I trust God to take care of us even if he wasn’t healed?


God wanted me to define who I loved more: God or my husband? When I said goodbye to my husband as the nurses wheeled him into the operating room, I knew I might not see him again. AND IT WAS OK. The peace I felt was tangible. There was no human explanation for it.
As it turned out, God did heal my husband. Slowly. The surgery went as well as anyone could hope. He required no chemotherapy or radiation. His prognosis was excellent. Some brain tumors give you a life expectancy of months or years. The kind he had gave him a life expectancy of decades.
But there was a catch. I did not really get my original husband back. The brain trauma caused by the surgery took months to heal.  The medications further altered his personality. He looked the same, but he was not the same inside. The brain trauma made him tired, irritable, and unavailable. Going to work drained him of every last bit of energy.  He was right here in our house, but he wasn’t really here. I expected him to behave like the man I married, but he simply couldn’t.

I was angry. I was grateful that God had spared his life and his job, but I was angry that I had no best friend, that I had no partner to walk with me through this living nightmare. Everything except his salary was left up to me…childcare, discipline, decisions, school work, medical supervision, transportation. I was angry that I couldn’t even cry on his shoulder, because the empathetic part of him wasn’t there.

Even today, he has very little memory of what happened in the months after surgery.  He has no clue of the difficulties we went through, except for the little snippets I have been able to share. He has regained much of his old self, but some things are permanently changed. We have now found a new normal. I have accepted his new self, and so has he. It was an ugly experience, but by the grace of God, we survived and we are stronger for it. Our friendship and marriage are much stronger than they were before 2014.
My surrender to God wasn’t pretty. It was messy and ugly and painful…and finally beautiful. I gave my husband to God. But then I took him back. For a year, it went back and forth.
Surrender. Resistance. Surrender. Resistance.
Jesus didn’t want me to surrender my husband to Him so that He could snatch him away from me as part of a cruel joke. Jesus wanted me to want HIM more than I wanted my loved ones–so that He could bless me with true riches. I wouldn’t voluntarily go through all that mess again, but now that 2014 has passed, I am so grateful for the beautiful treasures that have come afterwards.
Beauty came from the ashes.
  • ·         God has given me a new compassion for others.
  • ·         He has given me a hunger for His Word.
  • ·         The Holy Spirit teaches me new, exciting things each time I study the Bible.
  • ·         He has answered prayers in such dramatic ways that if I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it myself.
  • ·         He has become tangible and real to our children. They have seen their own prayers answered.


Pain is inevitable in this life. It may be smaller than my pain. I might be much, much bigger. Either way, it just hurts!
When you just don’t know if you can make it another day, hang on. Seek Jesus FIRST. In some way and at the right time, He will redeem the pain and make it beautiful.

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About Carol Dunfee

Carol is a wife, mom, piano teacher, and blogger for Alaska Christian Women’s Ministry. Having grown up in church, life made her dissatisfied with empty religious traditions and trite answers. She discovered that Jesus alone is the way to real life and true contentment. Ever stumbling and learning herself, she invites her readers to experience God’s love and forgiveness like never before. Read more at

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