“I'm very sorry, but the blood tests show that you have stage four cancer on organs throughout your abdomen. There is no cure.” You cannot imagine our shock and disbelief when Dr. Shaw, our oncologist said those words. When Molly was hospitalized the week before and they ran all sorts of tests, none of her doctors seemed overly concerned. Nobody seemed to think it was serious. She was not in any pain, she was just tired and had a strangely swollen belly. But now the doctor is telling us that she has a deadly, life threatening cancer.
When the storms of tribulation and trials crash upon us there are four foundation anchors that will help us weather every storm. When we build our house upon the rock of ages and have the four corners deeply anchored into stone and not on shifting sand, then we will become a rock in a very hard place.
The first and greatest anchor bolt we had anchoring our hearts was an unwavering, unassailable faith in our Father God. We were not orphans, we had a Father who was in total control, who loved us and would take care of us. He will keep us in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Him because we trust in Him. Hebrews says, “without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” We learned to pursue God in ways we had never done before, diligently seeking after Him in the word, in prayer, in worship, in tears and intercessions. We tried not to focus on the reward, an answer to our prayers for a miracle healing, but instead to focus on the rewarder of the gift of life. Our trust was in God and God alone and whatever happened we would say “Not my will be done, but thy will be done”. Whether Molly lived or died we were committed to giving God all the glory.
As Christians, we always try to be positive, be full of faith, and to think the best, to believe the best, to trust God for the best. Yet here we were faced with the greatest trial of our lives, literally a life or death situation. This was not the best, in fact it was about as bad a diagnosis as we could have. So we were faced with a choice. We could be angry at God for allowing such a horrible thing happen to Molly, one of God’s most faithful, loving children. We could cry out and say why God? Haven’t we always sought to serve you? Haven’t we faithfully loved and ministered to so many, and this is what we get for our service? Don't you know we had so many dreams of future ministry in our families and in our church, and our community. How could this be the end?
Suffering either pushes us away from God or toward Him. Instead of being angry with the Father we rushed into His arms and cried out "Abba father please help us on this broken road of suffering toward a dark and unknown future.” Instead of asking why questions, we tried to ask the Lord “what” questions. “What are you doing Lord? What do you want us to do? What can we do to serve you and our families and friends in this great trial and give you the greatest glory?” We choose the broken road of loving God and everyone we could, but it was very hard, especially at the end as she progressively got worse.
When the doctor did exploratory surgery he discovered the cancer had spread everywhere in her abdomen and told me that there was nothing they could do to save her life. All they could really do is put her on a drastic, multiple drug chemotherapy program that would have horrible side effects that might delay her death several months. The surgeon even told me that it would take a miracle for the chemotherapy to destroy the cancer. After much prayer and soul-searching Molly decided if she needed a miracle for the chemo to work and she would just trust God for a miracle without the chemo treatment.
We know what the word says about divine healing and believe me we prayed almost all of the scriptures in the Bible asking the Lord to please grant us a miraculous healing. Twice a day for almost 6 months I annointed Molly with oil praying Psalm 103 for God's miraculous healing. “Bless the Lord O my soul and all that it is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgives all our iniquities, who heals all our diseases, who redeems your life from the pit of destruction, who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your life with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the Eagles.” And Plasm 118, “The Lords right hand does valiantly, the Lord’s right hand is exalted, you shall not die, but live forevermore.” Family members and thousands of friends in churches around the world joined us in prayer for a miracle cure. And we did our part as best as we could pursuing many different alternative therapy options to strengthen Molly’s immune system to destroy the cancer cells in her body.
Our second corner anchoring bolt was to have a deeper, more intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus than ever before. Proverbs 3:5 tells us, “ Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your steps.” The Hebrew word for acknowledge is YADA. It means to be intimately acquainted with another. We are to intimately know Him as a husband knows his wife, her moods, her thoughts, her wishes and desires. What pleases her and what hurts her and harms our relationship. We must know Jesus in such an intimate way that our lives are transformed by our relationship with him. Then he will direct our steps as we follow him every day of our lives.
We soon learned that we could not put expectations upon the Lord for a cure for Molly's healing. Instead we pressed into the Lord Jesus as never before in HOPE and expectancy that he would accomplish his purposes in us and through us. We didn't know what this broken road had in store for us. We hoped for the very best, we believed that He was absolutely able to cure Molly, but we did not know where this journey would end. And so we learned to live one day at a time, expectantly walking hand-in-hand with the Lord of life through the valley of the shadow of death. Molly was excited about the journey, saying either way I win! I’m either going to have and amazing miracle healing that I will proclaim from the housetops or I am going home to be with Jesus and Brianna. Needless to say I was a lot less excited than she was!
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:11 At times we were broken hearted over Molly's declining health, her drastic weight loss and her afflictions, but we were confident whether she lived or died that the Lord would deliver us out of them all.
Scripture says Jesus is the word alive in our hearts. The only way to get through a crisis is to have the foundational bedrock of the word of God in your life. How well do you know the word? Are you in the word daily reading, meditating on it, and memorizing it? Twenty years Molly and I memorized one scripture a day for 3 years. It transformed our lives, and has become an absolute bedrock in my life and has helped me through many crises over the years: the unexpected, sudden loss of my father, the loss of my mother to a 12 year battle with Alzheimer's disease, the heartbreaking loss of my precious granddaughter Brianna who we helped raise, and now the loss of my wife and best friend. The word helped me to become a rock for my family in a very hard place.
The Lord spoke to me repeatedly before and after Molly died though His word. We had a campfire with my grandkids and the Jamersons after Christmas. After everyone had left I sat alone by the dying embers pondering how my life was being burned up before my eyes with only ashes remaining. I got very emotional and started crying and then the Lord spoke, “ I will give you beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” What a perfect word from Isaiah 61 to encourage my soul and remind me of His promises and faithfulness.
Then when I looked the scripture up I was astounded to discover that the next verse was the very scripture I had always told Molly was to be my epitaph. She was to find an old mighty oak tree in a public park, sprinkle my ashes at the base and proclaim, “Here lies Timothy Frink, a tree of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, That He might be glorified.” It ended up being also her epitaph too for she truly was a mighty tree of righteousness who glorified God in such an amazing way as her love touched so many on her long journey home.
One Sunday in November as her disease progressed I left the service disheartened and walked around the parking lot. As I gazed over the backfield I saw a bald eagle circling above me. And immediately He spoke to me: “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not grow faint.” On two other occasions over the next several months eagles circled over the top of me at church and at home and the Lord reminded me that He is my strength. I also clung to: Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not for I am with you, Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will help you with, Yes I will strengthen you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Scripture says the joy of the Lord is my strength. For the last 40 years I have found great delight in worshiping the Lord on a daily basis. When I don’t have to concentrate I play worship music at my job. I love riding my bike and worshipping the entire way. I love worshipping the Lord while I work outside in the yard, or riding in the car. I find tremendous strength and comfort and encouragement as I press into the Lord in worship.
Right before Christmas Molly developed a tumor blockage in her colon that caused her to vomit everything, but the smallest amount of liquid nourishment. She basically starved to death before my eyes over 8 weeks on 150 calories per day. Amazingly, due to the cancer she wasn’t hungry. This resulted in her being bedridden for most of her last 6 weeks. The Lord was so good to her and eased her pain and suffering. Her doctor said her lack of severe suffering was miraculous and he had never seen a cancer patient die with so little pain.
One of the most deeply satisfying times Molly and I shared was when I massaged each foot for ten minutes, twice a day, to keep the fluid from building up in her feet while she was bed ridden. I played wonderful worship songs on YouTube and we worshipped, and prayed and cried in His presence. It was an incredible, intimate experience where I washed my wife in the spirit 40 minutes a day. I highly recommend it, especially when you are struggling to connect with your wife. It was the most soul satisfying love making I had ever experienced.
The third corner anchor bolt that we need in our lives is a deep, loving, faithful relationship with our wives. The love, devotion and faithful support Molly and I had for each other over the past 25 years helped to carry us both through this terrible crisis. When we first fall in love we are deeply committed to the woman who we highly desired and pursued. But then we get married, the heavenly bliss eventually ends, life becomes full with children and responsibilities multiplied at home and work. There are also many other interests that lead us away from our true love.
You don’t know have much you have until your treasure is forever lost and gone. After Molly passed away, and I was deeply grieving, I came to have tremendous regret and guilt for the ways that I treated Molly, for things I did and things I didn't do. I always knew I had a little one gallon love tank and Molly had a large 10 gallon love tank. It didn’t take didn't take much love or attention to satisfy my needs, but it took a great deal more for her to feel connected and satisfied, and loved. I came to recognize if I had been less selfish and more devoted to Molly then we would have had a much deeper, more enjoyable relationship.
I was always interested in so many different things and had so many different commitments and responsibilities. My love for sports, for reading, for biking, for gardening, for church ministry, and community service, for finances and investing, and for sports, did I say Sports already?, They all took me away from my true love. She often got the second best of what I had to offer and not my very best.
We had a good marriage, we did ministry together, had many friends and family that we loved and spent time with, and some activities that we enjoyed together, but it could've been so much richer and so much deeper if I would've been more committed to her, to her emotions, to her interests, her desires, and less focused on me.
Soon after Molly passed I read a profoundly touching book, “Severe Mercy” about a young couple who had a wonderful, deeply committed relationship for about 12 years until she died from a rare liver disorder. When they were first married they made a covenant to erect a shining barrier around their relationship. They would strive to keep out everything that would separate them. Each committed to enjoying what the other loved to do, and they sought new activities that they would enjoy doing together. They would guard against unnecessary commitments that would separate them and move them away from each other. They reminded each other of the Shining Barrier whenever one of them would start feeling left out. I wish I had treated Molly this way over the last 25 years and if the Lord ever gives me another wife this broken man will be far more loving and devoted to his new wife.
Jesus challenged us to love our wives as he loved the church. He laid his life down for his bride every minute of three years of ministry, loving his people and dying for them. And we need to do the same. We need to learn to love our wives and serve them. Try keep their love tank filled on a daily basis. To truly YADA them is to know them intimately, emotionally and physically, intellectually. We should listen to them, to wash them with the word on a regular basis, to pray with them and if necessary to massage their feet and worship. When we do that not only will we have a wonderful relationship here on this earth that can be so productive and helping so many other people, but we will have a relationship that will persevere through the greatest of tragedies, trials and tribulations.
The fourth corner anchor that we need to help us in a time of crisis are deep relationships with other men like David and Jonathan shared. We live in a world where men are so isolated, and independent of one another. We have an enemy who is committed to destroying us and the easiest way to do that is to isolate us from one another. Our American culture idolizes the strong independent Clint Eastwood type of western figure who is strong and macho and always triumphs over evil. He may win in the end, but he is always alone and always hard hearted.
When the storm comes, even if you're closely connected to the Lord and even if you have a wonderful relationship with your wife, you need other men to encourage you, to help you when you are weak. Proverbs says that a three cord strand is not easily broken. It is because there is strength in community. Have you ever wondered why we worship a God who is three persons? Why is God a Trinity, the Father, the Son and Holy spirit? Every other religion in the world has a singular God or a myriad of lesser gods to worship, but Christians worship a triune being. The reason is because our God is all about Community. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have a wonderful loving relationship, each with unique responsibilities and gifts that are invaluable in their community. They model for us the great value of family and community and church, and being a part of something bigger than yourself.
I've been greatly blessed over the 40 years that I've been walking with Christ with close friendships with a number of men. When this great trial came I had 7 men who stood by me and helped take care of me when I was really hurting. They went out of their way to call me and come visit with me and listen to me when I just needed someone to pour out my broken heart. They loved me and held me accountable when I needed it the most.
I remember calling Bob Guild at four in the morning after Molly had gone home to be with Jesus and he was there to listen and to cry with me. Every single one of you needs men who are willing to hold you and cry with you in your time of great grief and sorrow. Like Clint Eastwood you may be able to survive on your own, but with the help of your brothers you can triumph over adversity and be a rock in a very hard place. You can glorify God in ways you can never imagine, because of the strength that your brothers give to you.
Molly passed away two months ago to this very day on February 13. I've learned a great many things about myself and about how I handle grief. I've learned that those anchors which carried me through the storm while we were battling her sickness are also carrying me through this season of grief. I have learned not to regret all I have lost, but to be thankful for the wonderful 25 years we had together. I have learned not to live in the future as I yearn for better days ahead or to live in the past full of regret and remorse for what I have lost, but to live in the present. No matter how difficult and lonely the present may be. God’s presence is only alive in the present. In His presence if fullness of JOY! And the Joy of the Lord is my strength.
My relationship with the Lord has never been deeper or richer as I practice walking in his presence, worshiping him, relishing his word, praying in tongues throughout the day and leaning on him. And my brothers have been a great blessing in my life and continuing to carry me, encourage me and strengthen me. My days are usually very good, and my nights are getting better. I'm still sometimes blindsided with waves of emotion, memories and tears, but that's OK. It's all part of grieving for someone I still love so deeply. The greater the love, the greater the sorrow. And you know I've discovered when I am worshiping the Lord and pressing into Him and feeling his love I truly sense the love of Molly and her spirit along with the spirit of the living God fill me up and give me great joy.
I truly look forward to the day when Aslan also comes and takes me home to join Molly, my granddaughter Brianna, and my parents who have preceded us. It is well with my soul as I have learned to surrender and walk in great expectancy with my God and see all the wonderful things he has planned for me. For He has plans to bless me and prosper me, to give me a future and a hope and as I go and pray to him he listens to me and when I search for him I know I will find him and His new purpose for my life. I think I need a new wife, more kids and more grandkids! Nine of my own and 16 in the church are not enough!
It’s not a matter if you will have trials and tribulation. All of us will eventually lose loved ones, we may lose jobs, or our health, or be financially ruined. We will suffer grief and great despair in this life. It is thru suffering that we learn perseverance, which leads to character, which triumphs in HOPE. We learn to follow Jesus more closely as we walk the broken road of suffering, dying to ourselves, taking up our crosses daily and following Him. The four great anchor bolts of faith in God, following Jesus, loving our wives, and men discipling other men gave me the strength and grace to walk Molly home to Jesus.