I wasn’t going to write this post but honestly, for me writing is how I deal with things.
Last Sunday, we got news that shocked us. Fr. Dave, the pastor of our church, announced these 4 little words, “I have colon cancer.” There was complete silence. You could have heard a pin drop. As we listened to the story of how the diagnosis was made and the plan for the immediate future, tears started to flow all around the room . For me, I just sat stunned. That is, until the prayers started. It was at that point that my tears found their way out.
Fr. Dave told us all that he was at peace with it. He said he knew that no matter what, it was ok. If he survived, he was living for God. If he didn’t, he was living with God. His attitude was one of, how can you loose with options like that? I can understand that to an extent. But I thought that if it was me, I might be a little more anxious. I thought about the seemingly extreme faith that it would take to walk in that way. I’m human, I just don’t think that my faith would carry me like that…
Wednesday I had to go to the doctor myself to get the results of a thyroid biopsy that I had two weeks earlier. My appointment was at 9 am. but I didn’t get to see the doctor until 10 am. They explained to me that the doctor was waiting for a call back from Yale. I didn’t think that they were waiting for my results, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. When I did get to see the doctor, she explained to me that when they looked at the slides locally, they couldn’t come to a conclusion so they sent the slides to Yale. She explained to me that what they saw was irregular. They could not classify it as malignant, but it was clearly not benign. She told me that there were some other cultures that needed to be done, but that even with that it the results would only lend either a “more likely malignant” or “more likely benign” answer and not a definitive. The next day I got the answer. I heard the 4 little words “cannot rule out malignancy”. I was numb. I didn’t know what to think. As the hours went by, I started to feel invaded.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am in NO WAY drawing a comparison between a non-life threatening thyroid nodule that MIGHT be malignant to colon cancer. I am, however, drawing a comparison between my faith and the faith of the man who has taught me for the last 4 years; Where I am in my walk with Christ as compared to a man who teaches others to walk with Christ.
Until you hear those words, it’s impossible to imagine how you might feel. I never in my life imagined that I would hear those words. Maybe because there is no family history of it (save for skin cancer, which I have never really been afraid of). To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about it now. I know I have to have surgery to remove my thyroid. I’ve had so many surgeries that the thought of another one in and of itself is horrible. It doesn’t get easier, by the way. Just in case you were wondering. I know that once the thyroid is removed, I’ll have to take a pill for the rest of my life; a little reminder to start off every day. I know that they will look at lymph nodes in my neck and see if there has been any invasion there. But I’m standing on my faith. I’m standing on the same faith that Fr. Dave is standing on: KNOWING that my life is precious to God.
I have another friend who has talked to me extensively about the book of Job. The common interpretation of that book is that all that Job endured was a test of his faith. That in the end, his submission to God, and to God’s final words to him, were a lesson to Job and his friends. But that’s not what my friend sees. My friend sees God the refiner at work. He showed me that the trials that Job endured were not to prove anything to Satan, Job’s friends or Job. Those trials were God’s way of putting the precious metal of Job into the furnace, melting him down to change the very molecular structure of his being, removing impurities and yielding a more pure Job in the end. A furnace is hot. Being melted down is unpleasant. But when it was done, the bright, shiny man that emerged from the fires was an example for us to understand that God doesn’t WANT us to suffer, but that when we are suffering, HE is working to improve us. An un-stuffed teddy bear can’t be fixed without a needle and thread. I am standing in faith that whatever is going on within me is only going to make me more pure and beautiful in God’s eyes when it’s all done. I’m standing on faith that God sees me as his precious child, and that no matter what, He is not going to leave me alone. I’m standing on faith.