Over the last two weeks, I have been adjusting to the reality of life with a brain tumor. In practical terms, I have had to modify my schedule to include all the doctor’s visits, rework my calendar to cancel the 33 days of international travel to 5 different countries I had planned on visiting over the next two months, and reorder my priorities on to include more rest and family time. That last part needed to happen with or without the brain tumor.
In order to control the seizures and swelling produced by the brain tumor, I have been prescribed several medicines including seizure medicine and a steroid for the swelling in the brain. My wife Karla has graciously set up a series of alarms and reminders on my phone so I don’t forget to take the medicines as a part of my new daily routine. Thankfully these medicines have achieved their intended effect wonderfully and I have not had another seizure. But, I have also been experiencing some other side effects of how my body responds to these medicines, including insomnia.
So most nights I now lie awake with my mind racing through countless thoughts. This often goes on for several hours at a time. But instead of just laying in bed, I have found that the best response is to climb out of bed and spend some time in prayer and then to sit down and write out all the random thoughts spinning through my head. The result has been a series of documents that I have started to refer to as my insomnia papers. If nothing else, writing all these things down has been helpful therapy for one of the side effects of the medicine. But, I also want to share some of those thoughts and our journey through this blog and trust that even insomnia may be redeemed for a greater purpose.
So, in response to the first blog post, I have had many people ask a version of the same question: “How can you know God is in control of all things and that He will use this situation for your good and His glory?” The second most common response is for people to say something like, “you’re a good person so just press ahead and everything will work out for you.” Both questions essentially drive from the same question. I believe that at some point in life, all of us ask ourselves about the purpose for our existence. This question is an important one to answer clearly because, whether we realize it or not, it determines how we understand ourselves and how we interpret and interact with the world around us. The answer to this question then determines how we perceive and respond to reality, or our “worldview”. So, in response to the many questions that friends and family have been asking along these lines, I would like to lay out my “worldview” in a series of reflections. I will also post regular updates on the blog about our journey with this brain tumor, but occasionally I will include a longer reflection about life. Hopefully in these “reflections”, I will be able to explain the confidence that I have in God, but also correct the idea that this confidence has anything to do with me or something that I have done.
The best place to start this conversation is with God himself. Now it’s important to realize that we can’t base our discussion about God, solely on my thoughts or your thoughts about God. If we did, then all we would be doing is creating a god in our own image and not the true God of the universe. There will always be mystery involved in our understanding of God, but He is knowable through His revelation of Himself in the Bible. In the Bible, we see God as creator of the universe and mankind created to worship and serve God. JI Packer says ”we, as creatures, are absolutely dependent on God, and that he, as Creator, has an absolute claim on us.”
The first pillar of my confidence in God is knowing Him as Creator. I was created by God for His purpose. I think deep down, when we are quietly truthful with ourselves, we all know that we were created. Our constant search for meaning and significance in our lives is evidence of this reality. But, you see, this was God’s design, His intended effect in all our lives to provoke us to seek Him. So that, in knowing Him, we may find our true purpose for which we were created. The medicines I am now taking have accomplished their intended purpose of stopping the seizures, much as the knowledge of being created, accomplishes the purpose of seeking the intent for which we were created. But there have also been other side effects of how my body responds to the medication. In a similar way, there are side effects in how we respond to the knowledge that we were created by God. We see in our lives the side effects of how each of us respond to this inherent reality. In the next reflection we will talk more about these side effects and how God uses our responses to accomplish His purpose of making Himself known to us.
Thank you for sharing in this journey through your prayers and support!
3 thoughts on “Reflexion: Intended Effect & Side Effects”
Jonathan, Thanks for sharing the journey with us. We are praying for you daily and appreciate the glimpse into how God is teaching you and Karla. So thankful for you!
I have been following your blogs, and I praise God for the wonderful work that He is doing in your life. I apppreciate the effort and time you take to write. I appreciate you sharing with us in your journey.
You be sure that I continue to lift you up before the Lord. Many times is in the middle of the night, and many times early even before I get up, since sometimes I wake up too early. Also during my devocional time and when I am driving and listening to beautiful hymns, I am remembering you and Karla.
I want to bring to your mind our “corito” that we sang at the CEB, based on Psalm 34 1-4
“Bendecire a Jehova en todo tiempo,
su alabanza estara siempre en mi boca
En Jehova se gloriara mi alma. Lo oiran los mansos y se alegraran.
Engrandced a Jehova conmigo, exaltemos a una su nombre,busque a Jehova y El me oyo
y de todas mis temores me libro”
Amen. Los acompaNo en oracion durante la manana del lunes 21, especialmente.
Hi Jonathan! I am a teacher at your brother’s school in Missouri. He has shared with our prayer team your story and this site. When I read your comments about God, I just wanted you to know that it was a confirmation of what my husband and I are studying, learning, and actually experiencing right now in our lives. Your purpose is to glorify Him–and you are! How awesome to be a part of the Almighty God of the Universe’s plan??? AND to know that you are, despite whatever circumstances you are in! To give Him the glory no matter what is what the Bible teaches–way to go! I just wanted you to know that what you said was a blessing to me and that we are praying for you!!! God bless! Darla