I still remember how casually my mom mentioned it. She had found a lump in her neck. “It’s nothing,” she kept saying. I left work to take her to the doctor’s office. When she opened the passenger door to my car, I was sobbing while simultaneously scooping fast food wrappers and junk mail out of the seat so she could sit down. If anyone ever judged me by the state of my car or my purse, I would be in serious trouble.
We left that doctor’s appointment thinking that she probably had some sort of infection. We were feeling pretty good about the whole thing. Then, the call came. You know the one. The infection turned out to be lymphoma. With every call or appointment after that, the news got worse. It was stage IV. Then, it was two different kinds of cancer. A kidney would need to be removed. They would have to use the Red Devil – the strongest chemo drug they had at their disposal. We could not even catch our breath between blows.
So it was for Job. We are not told exactly what he was doing when the first messenger arrived. This is probably because there was nothing noteworthy to share. It was just another day. Then, word comes that his oxen and his donkeys have been taken and some servants have been killed. While that messenger is still speaking, another messenger shows up. Fire from heaven has killed all of his sheep and more servants. Before Job can take all of that in, another messenger comes on the scene. The camels are gone and more servants are dead. Then, the final and devastating blow comes. A great wind has struck the home where his children were gathered. The building collapsed and they are all dead.
There are seasons when things just seem to go from bad to worse. You feel like you lost a fight that you did not even know you were fighting. In those moments, when you are paralyzed by the pain, what do you do? What did Job do?
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. – Job 1:20
He tore his robe and he shaved his head – both were symbols for great mourning in his day. There is no shame in grief. It is not an indication of a weak faith. Whether it is a broken relationship, a financial devastation or a death – it is okay to mourn our losses. We do not have to pretend like all is well with our circumstances.
After tearing his robes and shaving his head, Scripture tells us that Job “fell to the ground and worshiped.” Job did not simply kneel on the ground. He did not sit crisscross applesauce on the floor like a child during story time. Job collapsed under the weight of grief. He fell to the ground as if struck. Sobs stole his breath, his tears watered the dust beneath his feet and he was unable to do anything except fall. Well, anything except fall and worship.
I was at a banquet for work when my dad called to tell me that my mother’s infection was, in fact, an advanced stage of cancer. I remember excusing myself and finding an empty room. I collapsed into a chair and cried. It was the big, ugly cry. I’m sure you know the one. All alone in that room, in between sobs, I just kept saying, “You are still God. You are still God. You. are. still. God.” That is what Job was doing when he fell to the group and worshiped. He was reminding himself that God was still God. It is vital, in the midst of our pain, that we continue to speak truth to ourselves because Satan will be quick to whisper lies. The enemy will try to tell us that God has changed – that he is no longer good or trustworthy. We must arm ourselves with the truth of the God who changes not.
Whatever you are facing today, my friend, be reminded that God is still God.
6 thoughts on “When Mourning and Worship Collide”
This is a beautiful post, Stacy. I don’t know where your mom is in her journey with cancer currently, but I have prayed for her this afternoon and will continue to pray for you all. My husband and I also were in pastoral ministry for twenty one years and I have a great admiration for all your handling right now with family, concerns for mom and ministry. May God continue to bless you and use you mightily for His glory.
Thank you so much, Peg. I appreciate your prayers so much. Right now, my mom is in remission. We had a scare a couple of weeks ago but it turned out to be nothing. She is a brave woman who loves the Lord. She would be so happy to know that you have prayed for her. Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope you have a wonderful week!
Beautiful blog. I really needed this today. I just got the news a day ago – through the night – that my doctor (and what I feel is a good friend) passed away. We then heard that it was actually suicide. You can imagine my disbelief. I spent the entire night worrying, wondering, denying.,.
By morning’s light, a Facebook page had been put up – casually – by a fellow patient and Twitter and everything was abuzz. I still couldn’t believe it. I spent the entire day yesterday in a solemn, sobbing DAZE. I did some outside work that anyone could do – brain dead – just staring ahead as I power-washed our little playhouse that we got for our two daughters when they were small.
On Friday night, when he was making his decision to end his life, my husband, our youngest daughter and I were sitting watching our oldest graduate from high school. She was sitting up there, blonde, gorgeous, intelligent, amazing… When they read off all of the scholarships, hers was the largest and most impressive, so I do have to say that I was proud beyond belief! And, her little sister sitting beside me is following in her wonderful footsteps.
But, now as I sit here reading your blog about Grief, I realize that on one of my most happy days of my life, he had to be having his worst day of his life. I remember when I birthed our eldest daughter. We had a lot of trouble because the cord was wrapped around her neck. He assured me that she would be fine and he would get her out alright. She was already nearly a month premature and I couldn’t believe I was having a BABY!! Thank God I had packed a bag early – just like he advised. Because — you never know…
I remember when the machine beeped and then the line went straight. Was that bad? Did it mean what it meant in the movies? Was my baby alright? Not really, she was flat-lining. And that is not a good thing. But, to make a long-story-short (which I am not good at doing), they put me upsy-downy in my hospital bed so that she moved away from the vaginal wall and was not choking anymore. I stayed that way until it was time to give birth.
He told me he was going to get his surgical greens on and come back and he was going to give me ONE chance, ONE push to get her out. Then, we have to do a C-section. I was upset but he left and when he came back, I remembered that I got ONE push. How do people do that? Who does that? CAN a woman do that?
I was thinking that he was just pacifying me at the moment because he knew that I didn’t want surgery, I didn’t want a huge scar…I wanted to do this MySELF!!!
But, he gave me the ONE push, the ONE chance. And, then, he gave ma another. He gave me a SECOND chance. I prayed to God to give me all of the strength of my mother, my grandmother, and her mother and every woman before me to PUSH my daughter out because I didn’t want her choking and I wanted her to…breathe…
So, I took that one big, extra, SECOND chance that he gifted me and I pushed until my eyes felt as though they would pop out of my head and I would pass out. And, he said he saw her head and to give it a smaller push (which I did) and he suctioned out her eyes, nose, mouth, whatever. He said, “I’ve got her. Now, give me a quick second (to perform the episiotomy) and then we’ll get her out.” She was almost at the shoulders. I remember because he stopped and said, “It’s almost midnight. When a child is born, their birth is called at the moment that the shoulders enter the world. Hey, what do you think guys?” If she’s born now, she’ll be a…” To which I said, “Cancer”. He said, “That’s right. But, if she’s born after midnight, she’s a Leo!” Several of the nurses, the anesthesiologist and he, himself, almost cheered. I said, “What’s up with that?” Because of the premature birth and the complications, and possible C-Section, we had a ton of hospital personnel in my room, mostly nurses. Everyone looked around at each other. He said, “Well, you’re in a room with about, what, 5 or 6 Leos. So, what do you think about a Leo?” I laughed, clearly knowing my Astrological signs and all that that entails. I looked at my husband and said, “Yep. That fits her, already bossing us around by wanting to be here early.” And, he said, “Leo it is then” and he smiled. I heard a few “whoops” as they seemed to enjoy the fact that the rest of my life I would be most likely butting heads with an intelligent, amazing, head-strong child (now, adult). I also remember that when she was all cleaned up, he asked to hold her. I took a picture of him holding her and, although it is in her baby book somewhere deep in the back of my closet, I hold that picture of his smiling face in my memory and in my heart to this very day. I don’t need the photo album to remember it.
He was my OB/GYN through the birth of our second child as well and my gynecologist throughout my entire adult life until a few weeks ago at my last appointment. When he said goodbye to me this time, it was different. Obamacare was changing the face of healthcare and things were a mess, according to him. It was no longer feasible for an independent clinic with contracts to continue to thrive and he would have to close. I think that he almost loved his patients, their babies, his staff, and administration and fellow doctors almost as much as he loved his own family because, to him, they were just that – family.
There is no one, NO ONE that will ever come close to being even half of the man that he was and our entire community is saddened – and aches – for him, for his family and friends. I will miss him more than words can say. I will remember him every day of my life as I look at my two beautiful daughters. I will love him think of him always as a gentleman, as a doctor, as a friend.
Thank you for sharing your grief so that I could at least pour some of it out of me into words. Writing is such a good release.
I am so sorry for your loss, Shawn. How devastating to lose someone that way. I am praying for you today, sweet friend. I have four babies – two of which were difficult pregnancies and I know how attached you can get to the doctor who walks with you through those times. My heart breaks for his friends and family. We just never know the depths of another’s pain, do we? I pray you feel His peace tonight.
Lovely! It seems like you always post exactly what I need to hear.
You should start speaking to women’s groups. You would be great!
You are such an encourager, my friend. 😉 I have been asked before to speak and have declined out of sheer terror. Lol. God has been changing my heart on the matter. I would like to speak to women and share my heart with them. If you hear of any churches, MOPs groups or the like needing a speaker, keep me in mind. Have Bible, will travel. 😉