When Cancer Becomes Personal

As I approach 35 years of pastoral experience this month, it has been virtually an unbroken chain of walked alongside people (and their families) who dealt with cancer and various other frightening diseases. I haven’t donned pink shoes, shirt and a cap yet (don’t hold your breath), but pink’s irrevocable link to breast cancer has now become personal.  I think I truly cared before, but I wonder because it was nothing like I care now as my Linda is battling this disease. Just a few thoughts about this journey that must all be translated into thankfulness to God.

Thank You, God …

1.    …for the privilege of living in the 21st Century.  We may be in a lot of trouble in our nation and world, including the high cost of health care, but what a blessing that cancer is not an automatic death sentence.  Thank you for early detection.  As much as Linda hates mammograms, we thank you for them. It could well have saved her life. Thank you for amazing discoveries, gifted physicians,effective treatment, the hope that one more surgery will eradicate the cancer from her body.

2.    …for family, particularly our four precious children, Carolyn, Jill, Ben, Andi; and the three wonderful spouses, Chris, Katie and John; and our six grandchildren. They are a great support and encouragement to us. Thanks for extended family and friends from around the country who care and pray.

3.    …for Faith Church, staff and congregation.  Such outpouring of love, prayer and the desire to serve!   Countless offers of “How can we help?  What can we do?“  We don’t’ really know.  We don’t have any particular needs that are all that different from any other day.  I hope we haven’t been rude, saying “No” so many times to offers of food (I stopped short of getting a note from my doctor that says, “don’t feed the pastor, he’s big enough”), but it’s coming anyway, practical expressions of love.

4.    …for the many courageous people, mostly women with this disease, including Linda’s dear sister, Sanua, and many others, survivors they are called, who have walked this path; and live and encourage.

5.    …for the fact that you are sovereign over all things including cancer and all illness.  Thank you for John Piper’s amazing sermon, Christ and Cancer that he preached more than thirty years ago and remains so helpful today.  Thanks for his complementary article, Don’t Waste your Cancer that he wrote on the eve of his own prostate cancer surgery five years ago.

6.    …for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that regardless of the length of our lives, we have a transcending eternal hope that this life is not all there is, that Christ died for our sins, rose again from the dead, and because of Him, for those who know Him, the future is eternally and gloriously bright.

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