What Do You Do When Good and Loving People Suggest Differing Approaches to Your Problem?

Because my husband has cancer, and because he is a godly man who is loved by many, we’ve had many people lovingly tell us about various treatment options they would encourage us to pursue.  We’ve had to ask ourselves, “What do we do with the myriad of treatment options suggested to us?”

Here’s where we have landed.  I offer it in case you find yourself in a situation at some time when many loving voices offer counsel.  What do you do when it’s impossible to follow every option recommended by good and loving people?

1. Establish Your Overarching Purpose

Define what’s clear and non-negotiable. What is clear to us is that God put us on earth to have a relationship with Him in which we radiate His glory and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him.  We’ve determined that this purpose should be our overarching objective.

We love having this as our defining purpose.  We love it because we couldn’t come up with a happier, more awesome plan for life.  To get to have a relationship with the God of the universe and Savior of our souls is so sweet.  What God asks in return is just as sweet – His number one command is to love Him with everything we’ve got.  Isn’t it cool to be commanded to do the very thing that makes you happiest!!

We’ve also ruled out some overarching objectives.  One of the objectives we’ve ruled out is that our purpose is to stay alive as long as we possibly can.  We’ve decided that this objective might not necessarily be compatible with radiating God’s glory so it just can’t become what we’re striving for.

Even though I’ve made it sound as if these two things were simple and easy, that’s not necessarily true.  First, I have a desperately wicked heart that sometimes turns away from the God of the universe and Savior of my soul.  Second, there is no one on earth who loves my husband more than I do, and the thought of losing him to death brings me great grief.  It would be so easy to cling to any possible option that might promise Jeff longer life on earth.

Nevertheless, we’ve determined that God put us on earth to have a relationship with Him in which we radiate His glory and enjoy sweet fellowship with Him.

We’ve drawn our line in the sand here.

2. Investigate Options

After determining what was clear and non-negotiable, we’ve had to determine an appropriate course of treatment.  To state the obvious, there are a myriad of choices when it comes to treatment options.  What clinic, what doctor, which treatment?  Which medicine or alternative medicine or something else?

The first step for us was to gather data.  We tried to learn what we could about the options available to us.  We read books and sought second opinions.  We gathered information.  We talked to people.

At some point, we made a decision based on the information we gathered regarding which treatment option we would pursue.

3. Make a Decision

We chose treatment option B.  In choosing B we ruled out A, C, D, E and so on.  Why did we choose B?  Because, based on our study, we believed it was a solid option.

Can I tell you something?  We might not have chosen the option which has the most healing power.  We’d like to think we chose a good option, but maybe not.  God hasn’t told us in His Word which option is best.  So, although we believe the option we’ve chosen is good, we could be wrong.

You might have chosen a different option.  We’re convinced there is more than one good option available, so it would come as no surprise to us if good people differed in their choices.

We do however have this confidence:  Our overarching objective is to radiate God’s glory and enjoy sweet relationship with Him.  He is the Great Physician and healing or death is controlled by Him.  We’re certain that the option we’ve chosen doesn’t disgrace Him in any way, so we have assurance that His determination of the outcome will be what is best for us and will bring Him the most glory.

4. Move Forward

Now that we’ve chosen a treatment option, we are no longer researching other options and wavering between what choice we should make.  We’ve determined that unless it becomes overwhelmingly clear that we should change treatment options, we will continue our present course.

We made this decision so that we could be good stewards of our time and our minds.  With so many options available it would be easy to invest hours, weeks, and months of time trying to keep abreast of all the treatments available, researching where they are offered, seeking out referrals, and meeting with new health care providers.  Our choice has been to spend our time in continuing with our various job and ministry responsibilities as the Lord allows.

We also made this decision to be good stewards of our minds.  It is so very tempting to become consumed with the thought of Jeff’s approaching death.  However, being consumed with thoughts of impending separation doesn’t help us to live productively and purposefully now.  Jeff was diagnosed with cancer three years ago and I’m glad we’ve had other things to think about and pursue than just simply his health.  I think the grief would have been too great to bear had his death been our only focus for the past three years.

Do I still sometimes wonder if we’re pursuing the right treatment?  Of course.  Do I still feel pulled toward grief and sorrow anticipating our upcoming separation?  Absolutely.  Nevertheless, God continues to sustain us with His abundant grace, and His joy is a sweet pleasure in our relationship with Him and others.

In Summary

So, here’s my suggestion for the decision making process:  Establish your overarching purpose, investigate options, then make a decision.

When folks suggest other options, rejoice in their love and concern.  Thank God that He has blessed you with such loving relationships.  Don’t find fault with their suggestions; remember that unless God has clearly communicated a specific decision in His Word, there are probably many good options.   Nevertheless, if the suggestions offered by others are not biblically commanded, I would suggest you stick with your decision and continue to pursue your overarching purpose.

Amy BakerAmy Baker
Amy Baker is the Director of Resources of Faith, an editor, a counselor, and a conference speaker.
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