“God sets the lonely in families…” [Psalm 68:6]
Last year, 2016, was one of the harder years in my life. I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was about to embark a Job-like experience. Between the challenges, the chemo, and all that goes with cancer, my greatest fear came true: My immediate family was unable to care for me and I would have to face the biggest trial of life as a single and alone.
I was already a ‘reluctant” single. Not like Paul at all, I accepted my singleness with pouting and kicking and screaming. I didn’t find it ‘better’ or desirable. One of the biggest reasons for my saltiness was that I felt that it wasn’t cool to face life’s transitions alone. I had already faced the death of a parent alone, surely the merciful God of the universe wouldn’t make me face cancer alone…surely.
Well, I have been doing just that.
Surprising though, when I first found out about the cancer, God sent me all kinds of help. Church members came out of nowhere—people I didn’t previously know literally dropped out of the sky to offer their support, taking me to doctors’ appointments, sending cards—just to let me know they were there. Those family members that abandoned me didn’t seem to matter as much. Although I can’t say my bitterness about being single went away immediately, having God send me the help I needed made it a lot easier.
There were lonely nights of excruciating pain, where I longed for the comfort a spouse, someone who would be there for me. I just needed closeness. Since I couldn’t crawl into bed with my parent or spouse, I would’ve even settled for a pet.
After friends got tired, there was a space where I wanted to share my deepest thoughts and hurts. This didn’t make my greatest fear easier, it just made me aware of my neediness more than ever. Having nurses ask me where my family was made that gaping hole feel even bigger.
Then there were practical issues—paperwork and insurance. I had to take care of everything myself. It was too much. I just felt that if God had given me a spouse then I wouldn’t have had to deal with all this.
But as I learned, being married doesn’t always exempt you from these “dark nights of the soul.”
According to studies, cancer can actually break up a marriage instead of bringing you closer, which trials are often intended to do. Those who are not committed can abandon a spouse in their greatest time of need. We may find this shocking, but it is more common than you think.
Again Jesus knows about betrayal, and I too would have to taste of the same bitter pill. Marriage wasn’t necessarily my panacea for all of life’s ills. After talking to other cancer patients whose families had left them alone, I found out I was not the only one.
All in all, I learned that God was my provider.
In times when I felt like an orphan or that God couldn’t possibly love me or that He obviously loved the woman with a spouse more, I realized God does “set the lonely in families” and He doesn’t want any of us alone in this world. He doesn’t always cause our loneliness or even sometimes our singleness, but He can provide for us no matter what state we find ourselves in.
After this horrendous journey I can say that God is my husband—not in a weird, freaky kind of way—but with the understanding that He is my strength and comforter and will take care of me, better than any one or any thing ever could.