THANKFUL FOR CANCER…

I remember when we got the results.  The doctor didn’t come out and say the dreaded “C” word.  So me, being me, asked, “Is it cancer?”  The doctor looked at me, rubbed his hand across his mouth and said, “Well, nothing is one hundred percent until we get in there and get the pathology back…but yes, it is most likely cancer.”

There it was.  I couldn’t tell you what he said after that.  The lump in my throat made it impossible to swallow.  The walk from the doctor’s office to the parking lot seemed endless.  When we stepped outside the air swept my face and I gulped down the lump in my throat realizing I had been holding my breath.

That night I found myself somewhere I hadn’t been since I was a young girl…knelt beside my bed, hands clasped, head bowed…praying to God…begging God…to have mercy.  I couldn’t breathe again.

Over the next several days in between doctor’s appointments and testing I would find myself there again on my knees.  In front of the washing machine.  On the rug in the bathroom.  At the kitchen sink.  Asking God for comfort for our family.  Asking Him for strength and grace.  Pleading with God to stay near to us.  Reminding Him that I wasn’t ready to miss my husband.

This ‘thing’ called cancer has carnivorous teeth that plunge beneath the surface like the blade of a sharp twisting knife.  The initial knowledge is disorienting.  It causes us to flinch from the shock and flail in disbelief.  It pushes and drags us to our knees as it tears at our spirit and rattles our minds in the chaos.

The darkness of it is consuming.  From somewhere in the darkness you hear a guttural scream that only you can hear. It drowns out what others are saying as it shatters through the disorder.

It’s as though you are being suffocated.  No one hears the screams.  The voices around you are faint and fading.  This thing stalks you, relentlessly.  You can’t shake it.  It won’t let go.

Maybe your ‘thing’ isn’t cancer.  Maybe it is the loss of a child.  Economic devastation.  Or a natural disaster.

Maybe it is a debilitating accident.  Or a profound disability.

Whatever your ‘thing’ is, it strikes our foundation with blinding stealth and exposes the cracks and chasms of our faith.

In 2007 my husband, thirty-five years old at the time, was diagnosed with kidney cancer.  We were both ‘young’ Christians and we would learn very quickly what it means to have your faith tested.

It caused us to question what we thought we had already answered.

It compelled us to ask questions we would not purposely wade through simply out of ignorance or fear and even perhaps, denial.

Who wants to think about death, right?  But these ‘things’ do not discriminate.  It is the mirror of our mortality.

In my wobbly prayers and petitions through the years since his diagnosis I have learned that surviving isn’t the ultimate purpose.  None of us will survive this earthly life whether it is cancer or not.

The ultimate purpose is glorifying God and becoming like Christ.

There is so much yet to learn, but this we know to be true.

Because of cancer, we are closer to the Lord than we have ever been.  Perhaps the enemy meant for cancer to separate us from Him but it caused us to cleave to Christ.  Coming to the end of ourselves, we found the goodness of the Lord.

Because of cancer, we have grown in ways that would not have been possible otherwise.  It has caused us to mature in every aspect of our lives.

Because of cancer, our marriage is stronger and more intimate.  It was the catalyst to conversations of the most sacred and delicate words two individuals can share.

Because of cancer, we have been active stewards in getting our finances in order.

Because of cancer, our children have been privy to knowledge and wisdom we could not have taught them by any other means.

Because of cancer, priorities arise with clarity.  There is a focused urgency to get on with the things of God and to avoid distractions.  To see the blessings and not take anything for granted.

Because of cancer, we understand that our days are numbered and that it is imperative that we use God’s resources wisely by discerning what and who we pour those resources.

Because of cancer, we understand that every second of every day is a gift to be treasured because they are fleeting.

Because of cancer, our perspective has changed.  Before, vehicles needing repair, sump pumps going wonky or a broken pair of glasses would have seemed significant.  Now, those things are seen through the lens of cancer and become insignificant by comparison.

Because of cancer, our senses have been heighten to absorb our surroundings and allow them to linger whether it is the color of Autumn, the taste of a conversation shared over coffee, the scent of rain, the sound of laughter or the embrace of another.

Because of cancer, we are able to comfort those with the comfort we have received.  Providing a way to reach out and reach in to the lives of others.

Because of cancer, death is no longer a threat.  For those who are in Christ will live for eternity.  Though it can ravage a body it has no jurisdiction over the spirit for those who are in Christ.  It has no victory.  Christ conquered it upon the cross.  This ‘thing’ called cancer has lost its grasp.  Christ bore its sting.

Because of cancer, we are able to see that everything that is allowed into our lives first filters through the hand of a sovereign and loving God for His glory and our good.  Through those fingers the light begins to dance against the darkness causing it to whimper as it is enveloped.

Because of cancer, we are consciously aware of God’s presence in every detail of our lives and our utter dependence upon Him.

Because of cancer, we are learning to surrender our lives into the hands of God and entrust our care to Him as we continue to faithfully abide in doing good works He has prepared for us in advance to do.

Because of cancer, we have not learned how to die but how to live.

This past week my husband had his most recent CT scan.  It has been almost five years.  It was clean.

Words fail to adequately express our gratitude for God’s mercy.

I abhor cancer but I am thankful for what God has done in our lives through it.

{Note: Originally post 11-22-2011, reposted 4-9-2013 in honor of six-year anniversary of diagnosis.}

4 thoughts on “THANKFUL FOR CANCER…

  1. It is amazing how such a sad and horrible experience, has strengthened you relationship so much with the Lord. Your whole family has been truly blessed to have so many wonderful days together.

    – M

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