When this journey started, we decided right away that we were not going to keep it all a secret, but that we were going share this leukemia journey out loud. We knew that our christian community would want to walk with us and pray with us. And they did. We posted the details as they became known, and we have no regrets. I’ve had friends and family and acquaintances come out of the woodwork, seeking to support us. It has been wonderful. We had financial support from all sorts of people, some of whom I don’t even know. Two ladies from my parents’ church, in a different community, made a baseball themed quilt, that fit perfect on my hospital bed.
Three months into this, in the middle of all the chemo, I picked up a Kindle book, Don’t Waste Your Cancer, by John Piper. There’s a short blog post describing the book here. He wrote it after his own experience with cancer. It was transforming! We immediately decided to adopt this as our mission for no matter how long or what the outcome might be.
From the beginning, I received great support from friends and family, inside and outside of the Church. However, there were a few within the umbrella of the faith, who really just gave me crappy advice. It’s mostly because their doctrine is so different than mine. But it really bothered me at times. It was almost offensive. A side note here is that if you’re trying to minister or counsel a loved one through their own cancer journey, stop and pray about it. Say less than you want and let them vent without response.
You should know, God has granted me a faith through this whole experience that has not once caused me to be angry at God. That doesn’t mean that those who do experience that are somehow wrong or in sin. King David had some angry reactions to the Lord in his life. Saints and sinners alike have lashed out to the Lord and He uses it all for His glory. It’s just not been my experience. This last setback, after the first of the year 2015, was much worse than the transplant. It set me back much farther, physically. And it’s been harder to recover from. Yet, God has given me some awesome grace to wade through it. Yes I have some neurological stuff to work through, and I’ve been much more difficult for my wife to manage. A lot of that is my meds, and I’m struggling to work through just being a jerk a lot of the time. So there is that. Yet, God comforts me moment by moment, reminding me that he’s sanctifying me slowly and that His character will return in me as Jesus helps me walk this path.
Earlier this month, I stumbled upon an article called God Is Bigger Than My Cancer. It seemed to continue the story of not wasting my cancer. This article highlighted that no matter how much theology I study, or mature I believe I’ve become, my life is continually planned and was predestined from the time of creation. When I was an idea in the mind of God, and he knew of my dark sin I’d commit throughout my life, and he decided to save me anyways, he knew that I’d get sick and whether it would be what He used to bring me home or to disciple and redeem and sanctify me into a new man. Either way or another, He’s used and using it for His own glory. The brief quote below encourages these ideas in my heart.
Cancer changes your perception of life. Each day comes to us as a gift from the gracious hand of God — whether it is the last day of a short life or the first day of a long and healthy life.
This quote from the article below highlights another important point that we all need to understand. We’re not promised comfort, prosperity, or any sort of “normal” life.
Christ promised to never leave us as orphans (John 14:18) — but Christ never promised us the American dream, a comfortable retirement, or that we will soak in all the expected blessings of what we think is “normal” life. Each day is a gift. Each year is a gift. Each decade, for each of us, is a gift that comes gratuitously from God’s hand, not from our entitlement to live a “normal” life or life span. The “abundant life” that Christ offers is not measured by the length of this life (John 10:10).
You see, your cancer is there because there is sin in the world. Our fallen world had devolved not evolved. Cancer supports that notion of entropy. Yet God uses these effects of sin to mold and shape us into the men and women He desires us to become. Suffering has sanctified me. Helplessness has attacked the core of my self-righteousness. God has used this yucky journey to continue to mold me into the image of Jesus.