You see, my brother has cancer. To be precise, a little over six weeks ago, he was diagnosed with stage 4 renal cell carcinoma. Isn't that just an awful name? The very words make me cringe. Stage 4...Renal Cell Carcinoma. How is it that words can look so ominous...so terribly final? Think that sounds scary? Well, you're right. It is. The ordinary human name for it is kidney cancer. (Unfortunately, that doesn't sound much better.) It's still hard to believe that only two months ago we were blissfully ignorant of this horrible thing that was steadily growing in his body. And then, all at once we were confronted, not only with the knowledge that he had cancer, but also with the fact that this terrible thing was turning his once healthy kidney into a giant, malignant mass...a mass that was considerably larger than a football. And if that wasn't bad enough, it had already metastasized (which basically means it had spread) to his left adrenal gland, nearby lymph nodes, several ribs, chest cavity, his liver, and possibly his lung. Were we blindsided? Oh yeah. Overwhelmed? You better believe it.
Now, let's fast-forward. Three weeks later, he had a surgery called a radical nephrectomy. In plain English, it means that they removed the cancerous left kidney, the associated tumors (there were two), the left adrenal gland, and the associated lymph nodes. (It makes me tired just to think about it!) So many things had to be done to his body just to give him a fighting chance.
I know this is a lot of information, and you may be wondering why I am telling you all of this. Is it to get your pity? Nope. Is it to make you believe that life can be awful? No way. (Although, at times, life can seem that way.) Is it to stir up your emotions? Absolutely not. Bear with me, there is a purpose, I promise.
I am sharing this to let you know that God is good...no matter what.
Does that sound crazy to you after reading everything so far? It wouldn't surprise me if it did. You see, the longer I walk with the Lord, the more I am amazed at the miracles He shows me everyday...especially when life gets really tough. You may have noticed them in your life, too. They're the little things that might be easy to overlook if you aren't actively seeking God's face, because they are actually a reflection of Him, undeniable evidence of His hand upon our lives. I shared all of the cancer stuff with you so that I might also share the glimpses of God in the midst of it, the unmistakable fingerprints of my Savior reminding me that He is still there. (Please understand that I rarely use that word..."miracle"...in normal conversation. It seems much too large and powerful to use for anything even remotely ordinary. But during the past few weeks, well...let's just say that the Lord is doing a mighty work!)
God is moving. He is at work in the middle of everything we are dealing with on a daily basis. There is just no getting around it! During all of our grief and suffering, I have seen the Lord bring reconciliation to estranged family members...people who haven't spoken to each other in years. And now, during overwhelming circumstances, they have found one another again. They are showing love by showing up...and by being a supportive part of this fight. Can you see the miracle? I sure can. I have watched my brother lay down a life-long addiction to cigarettes (totally cold turkey) in order to be able to have this surgery. Miracle? Definitely. I have also seen my brother miraculously healed of areas of cancer that, only a week earlier, had spotted his liver. Those same spots had simply disappeared. Another miracle? You better believe it. But wait! That's not all! He was also downgraded from Stage 4 to Stage 3! The miracles just keep coming, and we are grateful for each and every one. I know that the road ahead is long, and potentially very difficult. But I can't escape the truth that, in everything, God is good. Even though we may have to endure pain and suffering...He is still good. Do I wish there were no pain in this life to deal with? Of course, and I'm sure you feel the same, but the reality is that we live in a fallen world. Sin has tainted what was once perfect and unblemished.
"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world,
and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned"
The flawless beauty of God's creation changed due to the cancerous growth of sin in the heart of man. As a result of this, death has spread to all men. But please don't stop now, because that isn't the end of the story!
"The thief does not come except to steal, kill, and destroy. I have
come that they might have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, has come that we may have LIFE! I don't know about you, but that just sets my heart on fire! Even in a fallen world, we can live an abundant life in Christ. That bit of information is a lot to take in. But then, so is this...
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that
while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
"While we were still sinners"! How cool is that?!!! I am so glad that there is One who is the Great Physician, completely capable of doing surgery on our lives to deliver us from the disease of sin.
I know that we still have much in front of us on this road. You may be going through something just as difficult, or perhaps more so. If you are, please know this...God loves you. There is nothing you can't face with Him by your side. When things get difficult or overwhelming, remember what His word says:
"The Lord is my light and my salvation: Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life: Of whom shall I be afraid?
When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh,
my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell.
Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear,
Though war may rise against me, In this I will be confident.
One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock."
Psalm 27: 1 - 5
Until next time, keep looking for His miracles in your life. They have a tendency to show up when you least expect them!