Ten years ago the Preacher was diagnosed with West Nile Neurological Disease. Five years ago, colon cancer, stage four, followed. This summer marks the point where he will be declared officially in remission. We’re so grateful.
During the cancer journey, I wrote these words to praying friends:
“Psalm 20:7 reads, “Some trust in horses, and some in chariots, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” For the follower of Jesus Christ living with a diagnosis of cancer, that verse could read, (my paraphrase), “Some find their hope in distinguished doctors, and some in noted clinics, and others in the power of chemotherapy. But our highest and most certain hope is placed in our all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, always loving God!”
“Living with West Nile, as patient and caregiver, God has reminded us that he is completely trustworthy. Along the cancer journey too, we trust him to direct. To send wisdom. To provide courage. To send companions. To bring peace in times of distress. To make us willing to be humbled, hurt, and all hollowed out of ourselves, so that we’re free to know him and be used by him in new and deeper ways. And to do as he sees fit, always for his glory. That last one is our most frequent prayer.
“This sustains us: God always heals his followers. Not always now. Not always here. But healing always comes, and through various ways. Our Father is creative. Sometimes he uses time, sometimes medicine, sometimes miracles, and sometimes through “movin’ us on up”—but God always heals his kids, one way or another. Our role in cancer and life follows the steps listed in a beloved old hymn. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey!”
“In spite of the unknown and scary possibilities, Rick says that sometimes this feels exciting. ‘What part of this do you find exciting?’ I asked him when he told me that, just now. ‘The whole thing,’ he said. ‘And I can’t say why I feel it’s exciting—I just do.’ He doesn’t always feel well enough to show it, but apparently something’s bubbling in there!
“My editor chose the subtitle ‘One Couple’s Triumph over a Deadly Disease’ for our 2009 book, West Nile Diary. I recall I argued with him a bit because, believe me, there were many days during (and since) the outset of our West Nile journey that I wouldn’t have described as triumphant. Today, I look back and see the road we’ve travelled, and find I can’t argue: God has indeed brought triumph through that mosquito—but not ours. His. And that’s altogether exciting. What’s beginning to excite me, permeate my tiredness and weakness and concern for my husband, is that we don’t have to be strong. We can relax and leave that role to Jesus, the only strong one in the room.”
If cancer or any serious illness has invaded your life, you’re in our prayers.