I hope the sun comes out.

We took a lovely trip to the beach recently as a student home. We got there without a hiccup. The traffic through Philly was light – which is almost an oxymoron – there were no emergency bathroom breaks, the weather was sunny and warm, we found great parking spots and a perfect place to set up on the beach. As we left however, things changed quickly. Clouds rolled in and the sky got darker and darker until it was black. Soon the lightening began. It was just lightening for a long stretch, but in the dark it was almost blinding. About 45 minutes from home, there was a flashing sign along the highway that read “Alert: Heavy Rain Ahead.” A few minutes later the drops started falling from the sky. First just a little misting, then big fat raindrops one after another. Then the deluge. You could see the sheets of rain coming toward us. We found the shelter of an underpass once the hail started and waited the worst of it out there.

Thirty minutes into the drive, my van was full of sleeping girls and a sleeping Owen and Myra. It was like I was all alone in my 15 passenger van, enjoying the light show in the sky. That quickly changed once the heavy downpours started. Before pulling off to wait out the worst of it, there was nervous chatter amongst the girls. Then I head Myra begin to cry. At first I thought maybe it was just a bad dream, but after I pulled to the side of the road and was able to move back next to her, I quickly realized it was much more than that – she was probably having a lovely dream and awoke to a nightmare. She was so fearful that we wouldn’t make it home, that her daddy wasn’t ok in the van behind us, that we were going to be struck by lightening or a tornado was going to come. For a six-year-old mind, it could not get much worse than the situation we were in and every flash of lightening stole away any sense of comfort she had remaining.

We made it home without incident {thank you Jesus!} and as I hugged Myra and assured her that we really were home safe and sound and all would be ok, she said through tears “I just hope the sun comes out tomorrow.”

That sentiment resonated with me.

When fear is gripping my heart and not relinquishing it’s grasp, when all I can see are the bolts of lightening and all I can hear is the pounding of rain and hail and all I can feel is the wind pushing me around – all I can hope for in those moments is that I will see the sun again.

This summer I was reading the story in Matthew of Jesus and the disciples getting caught up in a deadly storm on the Sea of Galilee. I imagine it was not dissimilar to the one we were driving through, but instead of the safety of an overpass and a 15-passenger van, imagine a first century fishing boat in the middle of a violent sea.

If you don’t know or don’t remember the story, Jesus and his disciples got into a boat and started across the Sea of Galilee. It had been a long day of teaching, so Jesus fell asleep. Meanwhile, a wicked storm blew up. Imagine nearly capsizing, waves breaking over the top of your boat, winds strong enough to nearly push you overboard and lightening flashing through the night sky. What other emotion is there to feel at a moment like that but sheer panic? How about perfect calm. Calm enough to sleep through it all – because that’s what Jesus was doing. The disciples go and shake him awake, hoping their screams can be heard over the sound of the crashing waves and howling winds,”Wake up! Save us! We are going to die!” Then Jesus responded, “Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry I dozed off! Of course you are panicking. Let me see what I can do about this.”

I’m lying.

That’s how the disciples were probably hoping he would respond. Instead, I imagine he propped himself up on an elbow, rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, looked his disciples in their terrified faces and said “Why are you afraid?”

Can you imagine if in Myra’s terror in the van that night I had said to her, “Why are you afraid?” To us, it seems a heartless, callous response. How out of touch must you be to not be able to empathize with the fear of the people you are closest to?

So there are two options. Either Jesus was heartless or he knew something his disciples did not. He knew something that allowed him to remain calm even in the face of certain death. He knew something that allowed him to stand up, rebuke the wind and the waves and create a glassy sea where there had just been a raging storm. He knows that in Him exists the power to make the sun shine again after a terrible storm.

Storms have blown in and out of my life the past 4 years. Some much worse than others. Some have lasted much longer than others, but all of them have blacked out the sun, just long enough for me to long for the comfort and warmth of the sun again.

The most recent storm that has blown in has not been directly cancer-related, but with anything physical, the complexity of my health makes simple things, that much more complex. Around the middle of June I started experiencing random nausea and fatigue. I had spent some time on vacation this summer eating foods I have not eaten since I drastically changed my diet over a year ago. I assumed it was related to that. However, it got worse and worse to the point that I had very little appetite, was not just nauseous, but vomiting and was quickly starting to lose weight. After a few trips back and forth to the family doctor and lots of preliminary testing (all of which was normal), I was referred to a GI doc. I have a couple tests on August 22 that will hopefully put a period where a question mark has stood now for over 2 months.

I’m frustrated that I have been feeling badly for most of the summer months, but the fear that is gripping my heart has nothing to do with the symptoms I’ve been dealing with. The fear is still related to the “big C.” Because of these new symptoms I have been eating whatever I am able to stomach. That means I have not been able to take any of my supplements and I am also not eating the high-nutrient diet I have been following pretty exclusively since my relapse in March 2018. The other thing that these symptoms have messed with is my PET scan and immunotherapy treatments. I have had two treatments as usual this summer, but then when symptoms continued to drag on, my oncologist felt it was best to hold treatment until they know what is happening so as to not further complicate the issue. I was also supposed to have a scan on August 5th to see where things are at. Because the prep for the scan is 3 days of no carbs (think all meat and vegetables for me, because I can’t have dairy or nuts), we agreed that I physically would not be able to stomach the prep.

So, the one aspect of my cancer treatment that I felt like I could control – my diet, supplements and immunotherapy – has been taken from me. Now the anxiety I feel about what the scan will show when I have it (scheduled tentatively for August 26) is growing exponentially on the daily.

I want to turn to Jesus in the boat and shake Him and scream “Do something! Don’t you see I am drowning?!”

But every time I do, I feel His kind and calm eyes staring into my scared, childlike face – much like I looked at Myra that night in the van – and I imagine him saying, “Why are you afraid? Have a little faith – the sun will come out tomorrow.”

13 thoughts on “I hope the sun comes out.

  1. Heavy sigh Ash….I have called out to the Lord as well. You hit the nail on the head with this and relating it to the wonderful ways of Jesus when the storm hit that fishing boat. I will call out to him for you and for trust and faith to fill you. Also that you’d see bunch of sunshine! If you need anything, let me know or let your Mom know. OK? Love you all, Aunt Sue

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  2. Well written. Well spoken!!!
    So many times I think back to a young missionary woman in a jungle setting laying in her bed becoming weaker by the day and not having a clue what was happening to her. Life was moving on as usual around her but she had no energy to join in. She just laid there without even being able to travel to the mainland for medical help that might shed some light on her weird symptoms. The only thing she could do was stare intently at the small picture/saying that was hanging directly in front of her.

    It had been given to her somewhere along the line and was the only wall “picture” she had.

    The words penetrated her soul like a knife as she tried to wrap her head around the depth of it’s meaning. “God is too good to be unkind and too wise to make a mistake.”

    It didn’t feel like it..it didn’t even look like it at the moment…was there any truth in those words?

    But as I laid there staring, those words cut a path to my heart which remains to this d a y.

    I have visited those words more times than I can count in recent years and as I look back I HAVE seen His faithfulness and wisdom and loving kindness in so many situations and I stand as a testament that indeed those words do ring true.

    God is too good to be unkind and too wise to make a mistake.

    I promise, the sun will shine in the light of His glory as you fix your eyes intently on Him, so keep holding on to hope sweet friend.

    Sending prayers and hugs.
    Joyce

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    1. This is beautifully written! You have taught us all so much about faith and about the value of keeping it real. We join with you in praying for that glimpse of the sun each and every day. Love you!

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  3. I pray for you often!!! May you feel deep comfort & rest for your soul!
    ~ lovingly, Ginger Heagy
    Thanks for the update…

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  4. Ashley!!!! YOU ARE HOPE!!! YOU ARE SUNSHINE!!! I only know you through my sister Kelley, but I adored you from day one after Kel told me about you!! You inspire me so much!!! Lately, I have been feeling down….Kel had me read your blog and I truly thought “Buck up soldier!” Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!! I needed this desperately. I am in awe of your amazing love and unwavering faith. As I pray for you, I will ask God to help me be more like you!! You totally ROCK!!!!

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  5. Praying for you. God is certainly using you as you share your journey with us. More of a blessing than you will ever know!!

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  6. Words cannot express the feeling that overcame me reading your words. Words also cannot convey to you the deepest heartfelt respect and admiration we have for you and your family… You guys are not ever far from our prayers. The beauty of the story is that the disciples made it to the other side… Jesus keeps HIS promises. Much love!

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