In the depths of the chemo aftermath or “chemo abyss” (as one of my new friends who is also going through treatment calls it), food and water are less than appealing. Loss of appetite, changes of taste, burning mouth, coupled with nausea, (only mildly suppressed by medication), do not make even the thought of eating or drinking imaginable.
Combine all of those symptoms with sore gums and extremely tender mouth tissues, (from Thrush, an overgrowth of yeast in the mouth; another common chemo side effect) and a general feeling of misery and malaise, the difficult becomes the impossible.
I’d heard how challenging eating and drinking would be after chemo. I assumed I could bully through it – hard headed, determined, strong willed genetics are in every fiber of my DNA. It was, however, a humbling experience. Despite my family’s sincere efforts to get me to eat and drink enough, I failed.
Eight days after my first chemo treatment the ER became my preferred destination. Brian took me late that night. We both thought I had some weird infection raging through my body. After tests the doctor found the root of the problem: I was severely dehydrated and calorie deficient. My body had gone into survival mode: feeding on itself, sucking fluid from less essential organs and cannibalizing tissue, releasing toxins in the process. Three bags of fluids and some meds made a big difference in how I felt.
The massive infusion of fluid was a turning point in re-hydrating my body and setting me up for a better week. Undoubtedly, the specific prayers of friends engaged God’s mercy as well, and I have been able to eat and drink more since then!
Once the fog had lifted and I felt less like a zombie, a crystalline spiritual application became evident to me.
How many times have I gone around, feeding on myself spiritually? How often have I looked to myself for wisdom, before seeking God? How many times had I tried to fix the hurts of the past or just stewed about outcomes and circumstances? How many times had I relied on my strength instead of the Lord’s?
The world teaches us to do this. Think about the slogans and pep talk we hear every day: You can do anything you set your mind to! Feel empowered! Believe in yourself! Nurture the inner woman! Be self-confident! Just do it!
On the outside, those words seem harmless, even positive, but they all encourage a downward spiral of toxicity that just can’t end well.
Our body isn’t designed to feed on itself physiologically. We must have an outside source of food and water to survive; If we don’t get enough water and nutrients the result is sickness and malfunction. In the same way, our spirits need an outside source of truth, power and love: the God of the universe who is able to meet all of our needs, including our greatest survival need: salvation.
We do not possess all we need to survive the storms of life, the miseries of disease, the disappointments, heartaches, fears, troubles and the different variations of abyss that our fallen human condition and broken world opens up for us.
We try, but the result is toxic. Only God can supply the wisdom, truth, hope, peace and contentment that our spirits need. Only God can supply salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. The Great Overcomer became sin, endured death and rose to life, so that we could have eternity.
When we believe that truth, then the Outside Source of all life comes to live inside us.
That’s the mystery that becomes the wonder: God, living in us, meeting our needs, hydrating our spirits, providing hope and comfort where none exists anywhere else.
Philippians 4:19 (NIV)
“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”