In July 2014 Chris my husband was a driving instructor, winding down and looking forward to retirement and I was a retired Hospice nurse. One day Chris said I think I will see the Doctor, I seem to go to the loo a lot. The month following were a series of investigations and tests which resulted in a diagnosis of stage 4 aggressive, untreatable, prostate cancer. We had recently heard a sermon on how to deal with difficulties, either to withdraw or to be open with the church for prayer. Contrary to Chris nature we to tell the Church the basics but other close friends and our housegroup knew the fuller picture.
The first Sunday we knew the extent of this disease Chris read aloud this to me, with some tears but trusting in its truth, Psalm 139, particularly v 16, All the days ordained for me were written in your book, he was aware God could heal but not necessarily would, God had his days numbered not cancer or anything else and nothing could change that. As he read I realised God knew about all this 6 weeks ago, 6 years ago and in Gods eyes there was no shock so it was ok, it was like The Holy Spirit who is the Comforter and he was like a duvet wrapping Himself around us. We knew that humanly Chris had possibly a year to live so we sorted things out for when they were needed and then went on to enjoy the last year.
Our daughters and family were brilliant and whatever Chris wished for we did, he retired, had a party, went away for Christmas as a family, we continued going to house group and Church. During this time we wanted people who felt they had words for Chris, particularly about healing to take them to the elders to be weighed up before they were given to us. As I said before we knew God could heal but we had no feeling of promise that He would, this was not a lack of faith but we were fully aware of the Sovereignty of God seeing the overall picture. This did not stop us and others praying for healing but it was not the dominant thought in our lives. I asked Simon our then, lead elder if he believed Chris would be healed, he replied honestly that he didn’t but was commanded to pray for healing so he would. He then asked me if I wanted Chris to be healed to which I replied I would not want him to go through this again, knowing that at some time we all have to die. Chris was under the care of a St Catherines Hospice consultant who I had worked with for about 6 years, this again showed to us the planning of God in that we both had similar views on terminal care and allowing people to die with their pain controlled and dignity. Over the next months he became weaker and just under a year later he deteriorated drastically and he was given the choice where he wanted to spend his last days. We had a hospital bed downstairs, carers in, and friends visiting, they would read, pray with him or just sit when he was tired, for these friends I will forever be grateful. Chris had always been the lead prayer in our home, then I had to take over that role as he became more tired. We watched Downton Abbey all through, Monarch of the Glen, we laughed together, cried together and took each day as it came. Before Chris was ill he would worship God and it was like he wanted to be in Heaven but maybe a month before his death he became a bit maudling. Our daughter had had a baby and he was sad at the thought of not seeing all the grandchildren grow up, I said Chris when you weren’t ill it was like you wanted to be in Heaven and now you are nearly there, you want to stay here, no pleasing you and we laughed.
All through his illness we were open and honest with one another, he was fully aware of his prognosis, knew where he was going and at peace. This does not mean it was always easy we still had our normal niggles and I was suddenly an angel with the patience of a saint or that he became a saint although he was a good man. We had to talk through things honestly, particularly as at times we were both tired.
November 2015 he died peacefully at home, the miracle of his illness and death was not that he was healed but how God used his suffering. One of his carers started coming regularly to church, she had been brought up a Catholic but lapsed, a ladies husband in the Church became a Christian through her joining our Church and coming with her. At his funeral which he had specifically said he wanted the gospel to be spoken there was an atheist, a Muslem, a witch and many non-Christians. This was the miracle, how God uses suffering to bring others to Him but also for ourselves to get close to Him, but also that his illness and death was not a wasted life but a life that brought glory to Him. For me this made that time, although it was hard, it was much more bearable and although I don’t have all the answers why does God heal sometimes and not others I know I can trust fully in His Sovereign picture. It is still not always easy but I can choose to be grateful for what I have had and still have which is so much more than many have had, or I can choose to dwell on how much I have lost. Before Chris died I felt God saying that when Chris had died He had not finished with me, He still has a purpose for me in life and I pray I will continue to fulfill that purpose. Life can be calm and then a storm comes, He does not always still the storm in the way that we would like Him to but he can still us inside with His peace when we are going through the storm.
Phil 1 v 20 says I trust that my life whether I live or die, will bring honour to God, Chris did that in his life and death and I pray that I will continue to do this.