Last Sunday we looked at the story of Jesus raising a little girl from the dead. I suggested that miracles happen in our life when we trust God – even in the face of death…like the little girl’s father, Jairus, did. Last night I read a touching account written by Steven Hayner, Pres. of Columbia Theological Seminary. Dr. Hayner is dealing with inoperable pancreatic cancer. His words inspire us to keep trusting in God – even in the face of death and hopelessness.
“A little later today I am scheduled to have an MRI, the first of several assessments to check to see whether the chemo therapy of the last 2 months is having any real effect. We won’t have results of all the necessary tests for about a week, even though we are very curious since this assessment will help to determine what is next in my treatment plan.
Of course, what we would love to see is significant healing. So many people are praying and hoping/expecting that God is going to intervene in a really spectacular way. With God, nothing is impossible, and I would certainly welcome a miraculous intervention.
One person told me how disturbing it is to her to watch so many thousands of prayers on my behalf and yet (so far) to see a minimal of physical evidence of healing. Does God really heal? Are the “prayers of the righteous” effective? Does God listen to the desires of our hearts? Does the amount of prayer have any special impact?
Honestly, while I understand the importance and logic of questions like this–and many others–most of these questions are not ones that are important to me.
I truly don’t know what God has planned. None of us really know what the physical symptoms of my cancer will be over time. I could receive “healing” through whatever means, or I could continue to deteriorate.
But life is about a lot more than physical health. It is measured by a lot more than medical tests and vital signs. More important than the more particular aspects of God’s work with us (in the physical, social, psychological, spiritual, mental realms of life) is God’s over all presence with us, nourishing, equipping, transforming, empowering, and sustaining us for whatever might be God’s call to my life today. TODAY, my call might be to learn something new about rest. TODAY, my call might be to encourage another person in some very tangible way. TODAY, my call might be to learn something new about patience, endurance, and the indentification with those who suffer. TODAY, my call might be to mull through a new insight about God’s truth or character.
The prayers and support of people along the way, are also about God’s call to each of them (and me!) TODAY. As people pray, we are all changed, and we are all called to focus in a new way. We are all changed as individuals and as a community.
Yes, I’m really eager to know what is happening in my body to this cancer. I’m hopeful that the report about my tumor will be a “good” one and that it might portend a more physically healthy future. But whatever we find out over the next days, I am more eager that it would help me to be more attentive, more grateful, more loving, more joyful and more gracious.
I saw a bumper sticker yesterday that I loved: “More wagging; less barking!” At that moment I was grumbling inside because it was so hard just to complete my short walk in the neighborhood. But almost immediately my perspective changed. Grumbling was changing nothing, but a fresh infusion of joy could color the world.
Thanks for standing with us as we now enter this period of discernment and assessment. We’ll post results as we receive news from the oncology team, but please know that it will likely take a week or more.