By Jennifer Beutz
When things you are familiar with and take for granted each day drop away, like your strength and your good health, you are forced to refocus your energy. After a lifetime of enjoying a variety of sports and all that the great outdoors has to offer, my husband was recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. It has shaken our family to the core. It took me a solid month just to process what it would mean for our relationship, our children, our life.
Our refocus entailed much more time spent in prayer. Normally being pretty active people, we had a strong prayer life but also very full days. Lately, we have been forced to slow down our lives, our conversations, and our thoughts. God seems to be giving us ample opportunity to focus on our spiritual life. Even though we had been very happy and felt fulfilled, He has been providing us with a new direction.
In today’s second reading to the Hebrews, it says, “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for …” (11:1)
A few close friends and family members came to me after they learned of my husband’s diagnosis. They said they are asking God for my husband’s complete healing. Am I allowed to do that? When things seem so dire, can I really approach God and ask for everything I want? Out of desperation, my strategy had been to bargain: What do I need to pray for or do to shrink the largest tumor? Or to have him live until Christmas? But God places people in our path to deliver these spiritual messages. A friend told me she shamelessly asks God for everything she wants. That is the spiritual gift of faith! These friends have shown me an example of their faith, their realization of God’s hand at work in our lives. I’ve experienced a spiritual transformation through them sharing their charism of faith. I now pray for complete healing; anything is possible with Him. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, we are far too easily pleased, when God has infinite joy to offer us!
This faith leads to a greater trust in God. It shows our vulnerability and our trust in God to give Him our hearts completely, revealing to Him our deepest needs. It’s not that we necessarily doubt that He can do great things, but it can be a scary thing to get our hopes up—a fear of our wants not matching up with God’s will. It makes me think of “lessen yourself to make more room for Christ.” To live in fear is not of the Lord; it is not His will for us. We can want something that is good, like the health of our spouse, but it is to stretch our trust in the Lord to be prepared to ask for His will to be done, not ours.
Trust can be nurtured by praying with the Divine Mercy image we have been given through St. Faustina. Jesus, I Trust in You.
In today’s first reading, Abraham offered up Isaac out of complete trust in the Lord. Do I have that much trust in Him to make such an offering? Jesus not only wants us to trust in Him, but to ask for His mercy, especially during times of struggle. We are called to reflect His mercy to the rest of the world, that others may come to know Him through us. This is something I can actively do for my husband; acts of service toward him and prayerful petitions for him. Any corporal or spiritual work of mercy we can do for others not only brings them close to the Lord, but brings us closer as well.
I pray that reflecting on the Divine Mercy image and contemplating daily scriptures will instill a greater trust in my heart. I pray this not only because I believe He can do anything, but because I want to transform my heart to trust that whatever He wills, that is what is best. Even if His will is not what I desperately want. I pray to be humbled and to trust that my heart will be prepared to accept His will in all things.
About the Author:
Jennifer Beutz lives out her vocation in marriage to her husband of 17 years. They have been blessed with three amazing children. Jennifer works toward the mission of the New Evangelization as the small group coordinator at St. Hubert Catholic Community in Chanhassen, MN. She has been published in The Catholic Spirit and co-authored a weekly column in the Star Tribune with her mother, who is her writing mentor.
Jennifer, thank you for your post. I know it can sometimes be difficult to share your feeling at a time like this, but you did a great job. I am an 18 year breast cancer survivor. Although my cancer was caught very early with a mammogram, it was one of those experiences when you whole life flashes before your eyes and you find you need to re-think so many things. I was surrounded by people, many whom I did not know before my surgery that uplifted me and supported me. In order to give back some of the comfort and support I received, I worked as a Reach to Recovery volunteer for many years.
I, too, will pray for your husband’s complete recovery and that he have peace on this journey that he is now taking. I am also praying for my husband of 47 years recovery. He has been diagnosed with Idiomatic Pulmonary Fibrosis. He had been dealing with small health issues for over a years now (if you count a broken back small), but we never expected this. With Mike on oxygen most of the time, needing lots of sleep, and weak, and I doing my best to pick up the chores he used to do, such as walking 4 dogs 4 times a day.
Besides setting aside some times for this Book Club and meditation (and daily Communion) my comfort is my hour at the gym each day and working in my yard. I find I can talk to God much better with my hands in the dirt and I have met some of the most astounding people at the gym who uplift me and keep me going.
I will be thinking of you, your husband, and your children as you go through this journey. I went through this with my father in 1983; he died of pancreatic cancer and my children and I spent his last 6 weeks with him. He had a strong faith and had no doubts about where he was going. Sure, it was sad at times, but truly inspirational.
Jennifer, I am so sorry to hear about your husbands health. Thank you for being so honest with your thoughts and feelings. Your words are ministering to those of us reading them. Please know that I am in prayer with you.
Beautifully written, Jennifer. You and your family are in our prayers. God bless.
Kim, Conrade, Parker, and Amara Thomas
My dear Jennifer, what lovely words! Thank you. You are absolutely right. The test of trust in God is to give our will over to Him, firmly believing, knowing, that He is able to do anything, BUT that the most important thing for us is being fully, freely able to say, like Jesus, “Not my will but Thy will be done.” With hands outstretched on the cross, He has shown us how much He loves us.
I am absolutely in awe of your faith, Jen. Thank you for constructing such a thoughtful explanation of your journey. You are truly an inspiration. Sending continued prayers for John’s return to full health.
Love, Carolyn Beer