It was five years ago that I was first diagnosed with cancer. After a year of chemo and some lesser treatments, it was determined that surgery was required. That surgery took place in July of 2013, with no guarantees of its success. By February of this year, the cancer was back and I was officially diagnosed as having Stage Four Cancer, which means it had spread beyond its original site. I’ve been on chemo since then.
Tomorrow, July 24, I go in for a CT-scan to see whether the chemo has arrested the development of the cancer. The odds are that it has not done so and that, therefore, my cancer is either “stable” or getting worse.
So it seems of some importance that I write an update tonight on my spiritual health. Physical health is going to fail everyone at some time or another but spiritual health is the stuff of eternity. At my age (just short of 75) it is hardly a surprise that I may be near the end of life on this earth.
If you’ve read my other blog posts where I’ve mentioned my health, you know already that at the deepest level of my being there is a very solid trust in the Lord. I trust his love, his wisdom, his power, his timing. So whether I am to die in 2017 or 2027 does not seem important to me. I will die at precisely the right time, not one minute too soon.
You may also know that during these last five years, three biblical verses have become foundational for my daily attitude.
The first is Psalm 118:24 — “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” I learned from my close friend Ray Anderson to revise that just a bit. I say aloud nearly every single day, “This is the day that the LORD has made; I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.” That reminds me both of the sovereignty of God (he is the Lord and doesn’t need me to be in charge of my own life) and that faith is not a feeling but a commitment.
The second verse is Philippians 1:21 — “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” That means I will continue to walk with Christ unless or until the cancer takes my body. And then something even greater comes. So, no matter what, I’m a winner and cannot lose. Life on earth is good; life in heaven will be infinitely better.
(I must insert here the one thing that does bother me. While I will progress from good to great, I am aware that my wife Char will be in a different situation. I’ve had her to take wonderful care of me in some of my tough times these past five years. She will not have me and I feel very badly about that. . .)
The third verse that has become of very great important to me these past few years is Romans 8:37. I’ll quote the whole paragraph in which it appears. “35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
If assurances such as these can erase the anxiety of facing our own mortality, then surely they are worth memorizing and reciting daily to keep our ordinary days in perspective.
Entrust yourself and your eternity into the loving hands of our gracious, forgiving, and absolutely steadfast Lord and you’ll discover that few of life’s problems seem like problems at all.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness!”