This week has been one of those “whoa” weeks.
You guys ever have those? The ones that stop you in your tracks.
Thursday I stopped by to drop off some items for my daddy who was healing from a tonsillectomy (ouch!). While I was there, my parents took a call from dad’s doctor. He explained on speaker phone the results of the biopsy they did on one of a lymph nodes removed while they were doing the tonsil surgery. The result. Cancer. The word you never want to hear. Especially about your daddy. He’s one of the strongest guys I know, and he has cancer?
I’ve had several emotions in response to this news. But probably the thing I have learned this week about myself is how I was scared to be open about the way I feel. With myself and with others. I quickly had the urge to fill my time, be busy, and not think about things. You guys, I did yard work, deep cleaned the bathroom with a toothbrush, painted, worked till late at night, binge-watched netflix… anything to keep my mind off of things. And the more and more people have found out about the cancer, I get anxious. Because that means I have to talk about it and I don’t look forward to the attention.
Here’s the thing.
That is selfish and stupid.
Because this is part of life. Pain, grief and loss are all themes in the Bible that are integral to its story, and when we gloss over them in our own lives, we miss out on the full depth of the Gospel story.
Suffering is a reality.
John 16:33: “Jesus said, I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
If I choose to avoid it or keep it to myself, I’m not allowing God to teach me anything. And how I can have guenuine relationships if I’m not sharing my experiences with others?
It’s interesting because the Bible refers to trials as walking through darkness, waters, or fire. We are not to lose our footing and just let the suffering have its way with us. But we are also not to think we can somehow avoid it or completely ignore it either. We walk through it.
I was part of a study on 1 Peter a few months back and Peter actually compares suffering to a furnace.
“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” – 1 Peter 1:7
Here’s what Pete’s saying. You can go through a hard time and either let the fire burn you to a crisp or you can come out refined and pure like gold (and ultimately bring God glory through the process).
When you have a relationship with God, you don’t have to be worried about the flames overcoming you. He is there with you in the fire (look up the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Daniel 3). The Bible tells us over and over again, He is near, available to be known and will lead you through the hard times.
My friends were joking this morning that wouldn’t it be nice if life was really like it appears on everyone’s social media feeds. If the “highlight reel” was life everyday. And while sometimes it’s tempting to want to live in a trouble-free fairytale world… I also realize the value that a trial can have.
The hard times I have been through in the past have allowed me to grow tremendously in ways I never would have otherwise. There is no way to really learn how to trust in God until you are drowning. Not only that, I can love others better. Because there is no way to really empathize and sympathize with other suffering people unless you have suffered yourself.
Romans 5:3–4: “… but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
So there’s my confession. I was tempted to keep it in and ignore the hard stuff this week. But, I can’t and I shouldn’t. In fact, I am even thankful for the opportunity to be on this journey. I know my family feels the same way.
And I know I am not the only one who has something hard to walk through right now. Perhaps you have been down this road? Or maybe you are there now? I would love to hear your stories. Cancer certainly isn’t a stranger.
Thanks for letting me share my heart and letting me open up about this. If you see me, hold me accountable!
We appreciate your prayers for my dad’s Leukemia treatments and for this process.
And why not post a blast from the past pic for fun?
Also, this song is so powerful. It’s been on repeat!