Many people are struggling through challenging rehabilitation, a difficult battle with cancer, painful struggles with a child who is finding it hard to grow up and a range of acute crises. At times the challenges can overwhelm us to the point where the battle itself becomes the sole focus of our living. If that happens it is easy to slowly lose heart, ease off on effort and finally give up.
I’ve written before about the importance of having a “why” that shines beyond the pain of the present. In 2001 I was dying because of complete kidney failure. In fact, I was only kept alive by daily blood transfusions. As you can imagine, that can’t go on for long. It finally reached a crisis. I was rapidly losing weight because I would not eat. Food tasted terrible. Doctors told my wife they were going to have to install a feeding tube if things didn’t change. They also told her that procedure might mark the beginning of the end for me.
She came to me as supper was served that day and told me we were at the moment that would decide if I would live or die. I said I would throw up if I tried to eat. She answered, “It’s all up to you now.” At that moment I looked at my youngest son. I’ve never seen anyone more afraid. Looking into his eyes I decided I wanted with all my heart to erase that mask of fear, to see him grow up, to hug his grandchildren, to be there to love him.
I took a bite of the supper and nearly choked but got it down. I took another and another and fought those bites down. It took an hour but I finished the whole plate to the cheers of my family and nurses. That moment marked a turning point. Two days later my kidneys suddenly charged to life again and I was able to go home.
That struggle taught me that “Stayin’ Alive”, as the song has it, just isn’t enough. It won’t take us through the crisis we are facing whatever it may be. There has to be a Why and not just any Why but one that moves us from the core of our being. As we struggle through difficulties (and we all do) it’s imperative for each of us to listen for that Why and grasp it with our whole heart.