We do not grieve like those without hope, so says the Apostle Paul to the church at Thessalonica (1Thessalonians 4:13). I have been learning how challenging it is to hang onto hope in the midst of uncertainty. My problem is that I want horizontal certainty, the earthly road map, the visible evidence, a written guarantee ... something that I am more familiar with that I can sink my mental teeth into. But it hasn’t come. Twenty-six years ago we walked through our oldest daughter contracting viral encephalitis, a seizure, and a coma. She recovered well, but I can remember asking the doctor if this would happen again. I so wish He would have given me more earth-type certainty. You know, something that I could get my hands on and then manage, relax ... and then I wouldn’t have to be so dependant. In no way do I want to put myself in the Apostle Paul’s category but I do understand a little more why he cried out to the Lord to take away the thorn that was there to provide humility (2 Cor 12). Learning how to have Paul’s attitude of embracing the sufficiency of the Lord in the midst of a life stretching experience is tough. It was an experience so painful, that Paul begged the Lord to remove it. I wouldn’t word my situation in those words but I have suggested that God give me my choice of news.
Hearing the first of December that our MRI report didn’t come back crystal clear (NO sign of cancer, was what we wanted!) was sobering. I told our neurosurgeon, “that’s not exactly the news I was hoping for.” I am probably still dealing with the false assumption from the beginning that I had simply a brain mass, that would be easily removed, and then get on with life. Our phone consultation with Dr. Jeanne Wallace last Tuesday was helpful but also realistic. I have had a very malicious brain tumor removed. It will require some very diligent work to give me some years of good health. We have no easy answers but many hard choices. I would like easy certainty, God is giving me the opportunity to trust in Him and believe in His good and sovereign character. Lessons of trust, dependence, resting in His sufficiency come every day. Incorrect lab tests, conflicting information on supplemental protocols, checking and rechecking on the progress of additional tests that are not getting done, immediately!, challenge me to figure out what He wants me to learn. Why can’t I just get on with life and be done with treating this cancer? Answers are right where I have always turned to help others (God’s Word), but now the answers are born with a deeper sense of sympathy (I hope). How do you learn to take concern below the surface if it isn’t through the anvil of life’s experience? Traveling and living in Israel for nine weeks thirty-four years ago gave me a much better feel for The Land. Traveling the journey of the specter of cancer and living with the daily battle is giving me a much better feel for others who go through the same thing. Do I wish it would go away? Every day. Do I want to grow closer in understanding the richness of the Lord’s sufficiency and promises of hope? I am praying that I will more and more say yes with deeper passion.
It was great to be back in the pulpit yesterday, for the second Sunday. More to come!!
I highly recommend checking out the Oct 23 Family Life Today broadcast with Susie Larson on Taking Every Though Captive. This two day interview was broadcast October 23-24, 2008.