The Four Oxygen Tanks in the Corner

Margaret Nyman

Margaret Nyman | 09.16.13


Is your heart aching from the loss of your spouse? If so, catch this week's conversation between Nancy and Margaret Nyman on Revive Our Hearts titled "Hope for an Aching Heart."

While driving from Michigan to Chicago, I passed a boxy-looking white truck that said, "Medical Oxygen" on its side. It brought back a rush of feelings of the day Hospice knocked on our front door with an oxygen supply for Nate.

When God allows life's toughest stuff to dominate us for a while, He doesn't leave us stumbling weakly without direction or purpose.

Jack barked with vigor that day, not wanting any harm to cross our threshold. Cancer had arrived silently, colorlessly, terminally, and he was on guard. I felt the same way: "Don't open the door! No more strangers parading through! No more medical equipment dominating the environment! No more reminders of our life-and-death battle!"

But of course, Van's Medical Supply had only come to help. I shushed Jack and nudged him aside, allowing the oxygen tanks to roll in—one, two, three, four.

The delivery man kept up a steady stream of conversation as he went in and out, a kind attempt to soothe our frayed nerves. He assured us the equipment would be easy to use while my brain screamed, "You mean Nate isn't going to be able to breathe?!"

The tanks were wheeled past Nate, and the man greeted our patient cheerfully, like a friend. I can't imagine what was in Nate's head as he contemplated needing breathing assistance, but he didn't let the stress show.

"Where should I put these?" the delivery man asked. We settled on a tight corner behind Nate's hospital bed. I can still hear the cold clanking of the four green tanks as he clustered them efficiently in the small, already-crowded room. My heart hurt that day contemplating Nate's next slip downward.

Today the oxygen tanks are gone, as is the hospital bed and every other reminder of Nate's killer illness. Nate is gone, too, but as I drove down the highway feeling sad, God reminded me that because Nate is gone, so is his need for breathing support. The cancer is gone, too, along with severe pain and approaching death. Our dark night did end, slowly for me and dramatically for Nate.

When we trust Him to equip us for what will be needed, He causes us to breathe easier, despite being surrounded by calamity.

Today I'm steadily moving forward, edging away from those agonizing days, not with reluctance anymore but with future-focus. Although a hopeful future was always there, in the darkness we just couldn't see it.

When God allows life's toughest stuff to dominate us for a while, He doesn't leave us stumbling weakly without direction or purpose. Instead, He equips us daily, much like Van's Medical Supply equipped us with oxygen before Nate needed it. When the need arose, we were ready, thankful for the four green tanks in the corner.

In a way, that's what God wants to be for all of us in every crisis. When we trust Him to equip us for what will be needed, He causes us to breathe easier, despite being surrounded by calamity.

How is God giving you grace to take the next breath in that difficult circumstance?

Topics: When Life's Hard


  1. Thank you....for a much needed reminder.
    posted by ann
    on Monday, September 16, 2013 at 8:50 am
  2. 10 years ago this morning, my husband, Jim, died. How interesting to read your story today. Of course I still love him. I still miss him. Yet, like you, God has blessed me with a deep, powerful love for Him! Life IS good! God IS good! Thank you, Margaret, for sharing that part of Nate and you and Jack with us.
    posted by Julia
    on Monday, September 16, 2013 at 10:05 am
  3. Quite timely for me too. Not my husband dying but a wonderful friend. Thank you for the encouragement.
    posted by Barbara C
    on Monday, September 16, 2013 at 9:16 pm
  4. Thirteen months ago I left home to go to South Africa in order for my son to receive help as he is autistic. On the day we left tears streamed down my face at the reality of leaving behind my husband and my other son. I did not know exactly what the future held for my son and for us as the family. I did not understand what God was doing, how He could have allowed such a painful experience to befall our family instead of just healing my son. I was fully aware that all God needed to do was just say the word. Little did I know that He had an even bigger picture in mind for us. Indeed He has shown us who He is and all His attributes have come so much alive for us as a family. It is true that when He allows something to happen to all of us, no matter how big or small as long as we trust in Him and keep our focus on Him we will be amazed at how equipped we all are to face the challenge head on. Indeed we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Now I am happily counting down to going back home end of this year. My son managed to get a grade one place back home. Praise be to God!
    posted by Sihle Nyashanu
    on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 12:23 pm
  5. This week, after fighting cancer for 4 years, my husband's oncologist told us that within the last two an a half months, that his tumor has grown 11 cm, the size of a fist. Robert, my husband, has grown and shrunk his GIST tumor over and over again. He's been on array of meds that he has not tolerated well. The last medicine available is a close cousin to the one he tolerated the least.

    Now we are truly faced with his inpendin death. He is 6'2" and only 120 lbs. We've been in denial for 4 years. He's lived long than he doctors ever thought. But I can see him going downward. And what is sadder, so can he. But in that reality Robert has lost his faith.

    Since his illness, he has started going to church with me and tithing, watching Christian tv and reading the Bible each night. But now it seems that was his form of life insurance or last minute brownie points to help get in the pearly gates. Now he is bitter and hateful towards God. I understand the 5 steps of grieving. He's gone from denial to anger. I am relying on God for comfort to help both of us through this. It's so hurtful to hear him curse God.

    Luckily God gives you friends you need, when you need them. There is a lady who volunteers in the art therapy group at church with me. I had no one to tell about this, so I told her. She instantly pulled out her iPad and pulled up Revive Our Heart Radio. I have been hooked on this series ever since.

    Your story is so similar to mine. You answer each of my questions in the show right before I think to ask them. I relate to all of your feelings and you have calmed my fears on many subject already. Thank you so much and please come back to the show again.

    I have been a homemaker for 10 years with twins about to graduate high school. I now realize that I have to get back into the work force. But, I have my own illnesses, which is why I've stay at home with the kids. I'm also very creative. I draw, paint, make jewlery and journal all the time. While looking for a job online, I took a career test. It said that I should be an artist or writer. That night, I prayed for guidance for the perfect career for my that I could physically do.

    God told me to write children's books and illustrate them myself. I than asked, "What should I write about? What should be my plot?" And God replied, " Write Proverbs on their level using modern situations in the pictures so that children and teen would understand them." After all what is this generation sorely lacking, any form of media that teaches them basic common sense or Godly morality. Like you I will have to go through such heart ach to find my ministery and income to survive.

    So since I don't know how long I have with Robert, what and how do I prepare both him and me for what's a head? I'm praying and trying hard to leave it in God's hands. But I can just sit and let Robert die in this state, hating God. But I also can't spend precious time fighting about God every day. What else did you wish you had prepared for while you had the time. I've never not had a mant to take care of me. So, now what do I do? What advise do you have about writing books? My life has turned into one question after another. I really would appreciate any response.

    Thank you once again for your story and advise. I wish you all the blessings that God defiantly have planed for you and more.
    posted by Nicole from Texas
    on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 4:37 am
  6. Dear Nicole from Texas,

    How our hearts ache to hear of your husbandís illness and the news he has been confronted with. I encourage you to continue to pray for him, Nicole, asking God to continue to pursue him and draw him into a deeper intimate relationship with Him. Speak words of Truth to him and shower him with the love that you have for him.Just simply love on him anyway that God leads you. Could you have your pastor come and visit or some of the other men from the church? He may be able to vent his feelings and ask his questions of another man rather than his precious wife that he doesnít want to leave behind.

    We are thankful that you reached out to another woman and shared your pain with her. She has already been such a blessing in your life and we pray that she will continue to be able to minister to your heart in the days ahead. As you journey through this with your husband we hope you will continue to find encouragement through Margaretís blog which you can find at It has been my pleasure to pray for you and your husband today. May the God of all comfort continue to comfort you with the comfort that only He can give (2 Cor. 1:3-4) as He carries you near to His heart during this difficult season of your lives.

    Serving Him,
    posted by Lorree, with the TW Team
    on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 11:19 am

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