Just when we thought that everything was really going well, my wife, Bev, began to have some medical problems. She was visiting the doctor more and more frequently. After many months they did a CT scan and discovered a large tumor on her Thymus gland. I couldn’t believe this was really happening to us! We were so happy and felt that we were really blessed. Bad things don’t happen to good people. “Bad will never happen to me—they happen to someone else,” I thought. “I have been blessed. God will protect me from tragedy.”
Bev was scheduled for surgery and we realized the worst of our fears. She had a very rare and very aggressive type of cancer. At the time, there were only 147 reported cases in the western hemisphere. The oncology doctors where she had the surgery had never treated this form of cancer, and advised us to go to a larger cancer treatment center. Before we went, we gathered the elders of our church and prayed for God’s healing, and anointed Bev with oil. We claimed all of God’s promises for healing.
We suffered through five months of cancer treatment. And if any of you have been through an aggressive cancer treatment, you know that it’s not a pretty sight. Sometimes I felt that I would rather have the disease myself than to watch her suffer. As the treatment progressed, we realized that God was not answering our prayers for healing.
To be honest with you, God seemed very distant from me. Not only was I losing my wife, but where was God when I needed Him? I tried to read some of the Psalms, but I had trouble concentrating. David also had times in his life when he asked God why He didn’t answer, and why He seemed so distant. I asked, why do bad things happen to good people? I had lived such a good life, why did I have to watch my wife die such an awful death? And yes, I admit, I was a bit angry with God. Hadn’t I been faithful to Him? Where was He now?
It wasn’t until after Bev was gone that I finely gave up. There wasn’t anything that I could do. I came to realize that God never promised that He would answer every prayer for healing. If He did, He would be nothing but a health care provider.
God has promised to be our comforter and to give us a heart of peace, and I have come to realize that He did give me that gift. That was in 2002. Now as I look back I am reminded of this poem:
Footprints in the Sand*
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord, “You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you, you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?”
The Lord replied, “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, is when I carried you.”
Yes, my faith in Jesus carried me through. As I look back on it, I see it kind of like when a community or a family goes through a crises together. It draws the family together and there are real bonds that develop. That how it has been with Jesus and me.
It didn’t take me to long to realize that I didn’t like being a widower, and I’m glad that God heard my prayers. Two-and-a-half years later I was blessed with a very fine wife. And that is another story that would never have happened without God’s intervention. For she, too, had lost her spouse to cancer.
Jesus wants us to have a good life. The difference that Jesus has made in my life is that I know that I have a friend that will fill my life with happiness and joy. Jesus will be there for me through whatever hardship may come. Even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. I have a Friend in Jesus who I can go to with anything that perplexes my mind. And He wants to be your Friend, too.
—Written by Lorin Wentland
Lorin is a member of the Milton Adventist Church, and owner of Wentland Diesel Service in Milton-Freewater, Oregon.
Photo by Kaptain Kobold