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Coping When Our Plans are Frustrated and Torn Apart

Plans. I’m beginning to wonder why I bother to make them at all.

Job 17:11-12 says, “My days are past, my purposes and plans are frustrated and torn apart; The wishes of my heart [are broken]. These [thoughts try to] make the night into the day; ‘The light is near,’ they say in the presence of darkness [but they pervert the truth].” (AMP)

My plans are frustrated and torn apart. I hesitate to make plans, to send invitations, to plan vacations, or to accept responsibilities – because my plans are so subject to change.

The wishes of my heart are broken. I understand Job. Thank God that my children have not been ripped away from me. My body isn’t covered in boils. I’m grateful for what I have. I’m also keenly aware of the ache in Job’s words.

The thing that people say that leaves me shaking my head these days is, “This too shall pass.” (The light is near, they say in the presence of darkness: Job’s friends’ version of “this too shall pass.”) I want to scream, “Like a kidney stone! Nevermind the scars and devastation left in the path of this ‘passing’ storm.”

No one says it with ill intent, but it doesn’t soothe.

The specialists and I made plans for Redmond to have surgery yesterday. He’s been on antibiotics for four months to clear a raging urinary tract infection (UTI) and prepare him for the surgery. After his pre-op appointment last week, they discovered a low level of bacteria remaining. Surgery cannot be done in the presence of infection, so we started him on a stronger antibiotic.

I wasn’t as worried about the infection as the way overuse of antibiotics can destroy gut health and lead to antibiotic-resistance. Redmond has been on A LOT of necessary antibiotics in his little life.

The surgeon met with us before surgery and said she was going to scope his bladder first to make sure the infection was gone. Despite my prayers and faith in the healing nature of the Lord, God has not healed Redmond’s kidney/ureter supernaturally, so I believed that He’d heal him through the surgeon’s hands. That day.

But my plans were shattered. After a short time in the operating room, the surgeon said she had bad news. The inside of Redmond’s bladder is full of bacteria-filled cysts. If she tried to operate the cysts would disintegrate and his bladder would flood with poison.

My emotions swung wildly from relief that it was infection, not cancer, to maddening frustration that he’d been on those antibiotics, yet he was still riddled with infection.

The solution is to treat him with a more-powerful antibiotic for the next six weeks. Then she’ll try again. He’ll need to be sedated again, have another bladder scope, and then we’ll know if the infection has cleared and he can have his dilated ureter repaired. (It needs to be repaired to prevent more UTIs, pain, and future complications like bladder cancer.)

Silent screams ricocheted through my body. How do I protect him? How do I keep his body from developing more antibiotic resistance? How do I keep his gut healthy? What about the negative effects of anesthesia – twice in six weeks? How can I stand six more weeks of retching as he fights back nausea from the antibiotic and refuses to eat? How can I handle six more weeks of wondering if it will all be worth it?

Memories flash through my mind – a friend whose brother died from overuse of antibiotics; my own struggles with trying to rebuild gut health after several doctors prescribed different antibiotics around the same time and left me seriously ill; and a well-meaning friend’s posts about the depression, anxiety, and unhealthy blood sugar levels she suffered as a result of poor gut health.

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All my efforts to protect my baby feel frustrated and broken. Among other things, I give him supplements designed for him, homeopathic remedies, and superfoods. I’m at my wit’s end.

My older son, Charlie, has been robbed of the birthday celebrations I planned for him for the last two years because the baby was in the hospital. This year we decided to make it up to him, planning a friend-party at his favorite place – in six weeks.

We make our plans and declare them good, but what happens when our plans lay shattered and torn apart?

I’ve found myself numb and quiet in the last 24-hours. We brought Redmond home from the hospital and put him in bed to sleep off the anesthesia, and then I put myself to bed. When my alarm sounded this morning, I wanted to hide under the covers all day. Instead, I heard, “It’s time to get up. Read your Bible this morning. Pray. Go to the gym. Write.”

I hit the snooze button. Ten minutes later I heard it again. Nothing good comes of ignoring that voice. I dragged myself out of bed and read my Bible. I prayed. There was nothing spectacular, nothing that pierced my heart with how it applies to my situation today. I just knew that it was important to continue the daily practice of starting my day with the word of God. It’s important to let my children see my Bible open in my lap, to hear my prayers as I continue to serve God even when I don’t understand.

As Christians, that’s what we must do. When we feel a little like Job, trying so hard to be faithful while our good plans are thwarted, when we’re suffering and broken, when our marriage is stressed to the max, when it seems like the best thing we can do is lay down and be quiet because all our efforts amount to nothing anyway – even then…

We get up and do what we know to do.

We read our Bibles and pray. We remind ourselves that God works everything out for our good and His glory.

We whisper through our tears, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.”

Then we wait expectantly to see how God will turn this situation around for good, just like He always does.

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