Monday, February 8, 2010

Energy Crisis

You have not been long on this planet if you have not been made aware of what is deemed a universal and growing energy crisis. As the industrialized world continues to invest millions in finding new sources of energy and improving the efficiency of current energy supplies, demand keeps growing. Recently, I have been dealing with an energy crisis of my own.

With an adjustment in my pain medication regimen and in my determination to borrow courage from Christ's example, by God's grace I believe I have crossed a new threshold in my appreciation of the positive power that suffering can have in our lives. While currently much improved, I have a more-or-less constant headache (due to brain metastases), frequent flares of a pinched nerve in the left thigh (meralgia paresthetica), periodic severe muscle cramps, and episodic pains from other growing melanoma deposits.

But the undisputed winner of the most disabling phenomena in my recent course is easy fatigue ability, generalized muscle weakness, and poor stamina, accompanied by occasional near black-outs when standing too quickly. This is an interesting phenomenon to me, since while on steroids I have not lost much weight -- rather I am losing muscle mass, tone, and strength. (As a physician, I am intrigued by the high-turnover metabolic processes that accompany unregulated cancer cell growth... )

Compared to my experience during the first few months of this battle with melanoma (when the tumors had spread rapidly throughout my spine and abdomen) I much prefer this current course (where the most critical and numerous growths are in the brain, yet I am still able to reason, write and relate). For those of you who conclude that I have given up the battle, please know that is not the case. I have already out-lived the most generous predictions of my survivability, cherish each day the Lord gives, and look forward to tomorrow.

Faced with an undeniably dwindling stamina, however, I seek to mine the experience for nuggets of truth that may help me and others facing similar challenges. When it comes to dealing with our weaknesses, scripture has plenty of counsel on the subject. Here are just a few:

Psa 27:14 "Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD" [It appears that demonstrating courage (see last blog entry) is predicated on learning what it means to "wait" for the Lord.]
Isa 40:31 "Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary."
Psa 18:29 "For by You I can run upon a troop; And by my God I can leap over a wall."

As I experience profound weakness, I must learn to wait. In the original language of these passages, the process of "waiting" is more akin to posturing myself to spring into action at any moment than it is to passively sit, tapping my watch as the moments pass... Rather I need to alert all my senses to anticipate the next step I must take to keep my balance and stay on the path He has set before me.

Then I find that I begin to experience a paradoxical renewal of energy, coming from a source not to be explained by metabolic pathways or neurophysiologic phenomena. 2Cor 12:9 "And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me."

As I grow weaker physically, I find I am growing stronger in ways that transcend nutrition, exercise, and metabolic pathways. I find my strength coming from another source -- a breakthrough renewable energy supply found in the irresistible power of an intimate relationship with an all-wise, all-loving, omnipotent and holy God. This relationship rewards me with steadfast love, freedom from guilt, secure hope for the future, and a new passion for others.

The experience affirms an often over-looked conditional promise in scripture which I find myself just beginning to understand: 1Peter 4:1-2 "Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God."

The God who loves me is not capricious in the experiences He allows me to go through, but rather desires that I leverage them as tools in His hands to shape me into the very image of His righteous Son. He uses suffering to sculpt my character in ways that will last for eternity if I will but recognize and yield to the hammer and chisel of His love. My personal energy crisis is leading me to a new and boundless source of power.

Strengthened and sustained by your prayers,
Dr Dan
A much younger Dan & Linda
(before any thought of an energy crisis :-)


  1. Dan,
    Thanks so much for posting. I LOVE reading what God is teaching you. And what a great picture of you and Linda. I can see your daughters' faces in your face. :D
    Praying daily.

  2. I love that picture! Wish I could see beautiful Ms. Linda better. :-)

    Thank you for sharing what you're learning.

    Kristen Stapp

  3. Thanks for posting yet another thoughtful memo. I truly cherish the mornings when I wake up to a new note from you. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God is doing a wonderful work through you in the form of this blog. And, it seems like He's making a glorious new impression on you personally as well. I'm constantly amazed at your ability to think clearly and write poignantly despite the tumors. Just remember, a strong mind and an even more powerful God are two of the best things to have in your life...though family is right up there too! Hope you have an energy boost today!

  4. I once again look forward to your posts! You inspire me from your messages.Thanks be to GOD for still being able to think, inspire others, write while being in a energy crisis! You are one heck of a man. May God give you peace!

  5. Dan

    At church I told you that I needed to move away from the "lion" picture. So true to your form, you went after the engineer in me with the fuel gage (or is that Gauge - that is a another good story from small group - ask Cheryl Mason).

    As you try and keep the tank above empty - I will continue to pray and think about Linda and you!


  6. Dan,
    Thanks for posting the scriptures that are dear to you during these difficult times. I will always hold these close to me and use for myself or to help others.
    I admire your courage and strength and your love for God. He will not give us more than we can take. I watched my Mom suffer for years and I continued to pray, "why does she have to suffer so?", but in your Blog you have answerd my question. You learn so much from suffering, the opposite of what we think.
    I hope God will continue to give you some great days to spend with your family and the love of your life, Linda.
    Cousin Judy

  7. Dear Dan - I pray that God will strengthen you daily and continue to transform you as you grow closer and closer to Him. May His Grace and Mercy meet your needs, hour by hour. Through your writings and sufferings, many others have been blessed. You are such an encouragment for all of us. I stand in awe of your worship and service as God uses you and Linda for His purposes.
    Deb Smith (Powell)

  8. Dr. Dan,

    You are following His 'Plan" beautifully. By doing so, you continue to show us by example, how to be strong in the Lord. We all walk by the Grace of God, some longer than others. I have never thought it to be a numbers or length of time issue, moreover what we do for Him as His hands, feet, voice, eyes and ears on earth.

    I want to share with you ,my gratefulness, in your candor and your ability to share your journey. We learn by following in the footsteps of those who go before us. Your courage and love of our Lord stands as testimony to the Grace He has for us all.

    Know that you and your family are in my daily prayers.

    God bless you...

    Debbie Stage 4 MM NED

  9. From The New York Times:

    Dear Dr. Dan,

    I don't know if you saw this recent series through the NY Times, probably, but thought I would send it none the less. Thank you for your beautiful stories.


    Mike Query's daughter

    TARGET CANCER: A Roller Coaster Chase for a Cure

    Dozens of “targeted” drugs are emerging, backed by unprecedented investment by pharmaceutical companies, which could profit from drugs that prolong life even by weeks.

  10. Dr. Dan,

    Thank you for your transparent testimony, unwavering faith, and amazing courage. May God bless you and your family during this difficult time.

    Praying for you,


  11. Dan - You have truly embodied your theme Bible verse with consistency and courage. All are grateful for your willingness to get beyond your physical condition to continue to "tell the works of God" to us, in yours and Linda's life together. It is a wonderful story that will go on and on and on..... With grateful hearts, Bill & Wendy Hunter

  12. You are forever embedded in my soul. I love you and look forward to our next warm embrace.

  13. Dr.Dan I am looking forward to meet you one day...and I know till that day are smiling down on all of us!!!
    Tina Dwyer

  14. Dr. Dan, It will be strange ending the day without petitioning our Almighty for your healing as I have done daily since you shared your battle with all of us over two years ago. Now you are completely healed.

    You will be greatly missed. Thank you for remaining strong and faithful to the end. I am sure most of us will never know how much you suffered. It was obvious that Christ was in you.

    Linda and Family, we love you. We pray that God will fill this great void in your lives with His peace and strength.

    With much admiration,

    Toby DeBause