First, I must thank you from the depths of my heart for so many of you who have written, messaged, or somehow contacted our family expressing love, support, prayer, and encouragement. We have been overwhelmed by your kindness, and are grateful beyond words.
A few moments ago, I spoke with a doctor and received confirmation that, as suspected, I have classical Hodgkins Lymphoma. This was not a surprise, as several doctors already indicated such. God has greatly strengthened our family in anticipation of this diagnosis, and we are fixed upon loving Him, trusting Him, and living for Him as long as He allows. How can I describe our response to you? Full peace. Resting in God. No significant anxiety. Abundant joy. Amazed at God’s goodness. Preparing for the road ahead. Holding to God’s hand. Focused upon honoring Him. And thanking Him for the gift of a trial.
My Heart in this Diagnosis:
I could not adequately write about what God is doing in my heart. I can share but a few glimpses. In addition to the previous thoughts, there are some specific things that I want you to understand:
First, I’m pursuing God, not merely “more heartbeats.” Don’t get me wrong. I will fight hard to live, with every fiber of my being, and I believe a Hodgkins diagnosis indicates that is probably God’s will. But my hope is not found in my odds, it is found in my great God. I see the diagnosis as merely an indicator of what God’s plan may include.
Too many people live life with two goals—have as many heartbeats as possible, and have as much fun as possible while my heart is beating. This is not wise. The only significant life is found in fulfilling God’s will, and frankly, I would rather be sick on God’s agenda than well on my own agenda. It’s that simple.
Second, this is not about life or death or cancer; it’s about knowing God and fulfilling His call. Cancer is merely a player on the stage of my life right now. It’s not a threat, an evil plot, or an assault. More than anything, it’s a gift that will become an instrument in God’s hands for His glory and for the benefit of others. (I don’t understand how that’s all gonna happen—I just know God, and that’s what He does!) Beating cancer isn’t about surviving, and losing to cancer isn’t about dying—it’s all about fulfilling God’s purpose and helping others to know Him.
Third, this isn’t about “why would God allow this?” it’s about “why would God save me in the first place?” I’ve recently had folks tell me that they are angry with God, or that they question God over this. PLEASE, my friend. Don’t go there. Bring your questions to God, but don’t question His nature or His heart. He is God. We are dust. The fact that He would love us at all is a great mystery! (Job 7:17, Psalm 8:4) When we question His nature or His goodness, we reveal our frailty and even our arrogance. But when we bring our questions to Him, we find a refuge and a very present help in time of trouble. We find a loving Father!
Isn’t it awesome that He loves us enough to give us a Bible full of explanations—about life, trials, hardships, and so much more? He explains His love, His purposes, and His fathomless heart. He tells us so much about who He is, that the details of my circumstances simply fade into obscurity. He’s just AWESOME, and that’s all we really need to know.
Life is hard. But God is good. Don’t confuse the two. I will not question God. I am clay. (Isaiah 29:16) And it occurred to me today, clay doesn’t get angry. Clay doesn’t have a will. Clay doesn’t expect, presume, or worry. Clay has two jobs—sit still and stay soft. And by God’s grace, I want to be clay—I want to sit still and be soft in God’s hands. I pray you will too.
Fourthly, trials reveal a lot about our lives. Trials reveal where our hope is found. When your hope is in Christ, a trial doesn’t shake that hope; it makes it more secure. Trials reveal our false assumptions. We assume we have longer life. We assume our hearts should keep beating. We assume our situation is secure. We assume God is something like a “personal genie,” keeping all of life healthy, happy, and materially prosperous. When trials surprise us, they reveal that we were holding on to a lot of false assumptions. And when you think about it, those assumptions are based on nothing more than probability.
Don’t live your life clinging to probable outcomes. If you do, you are assuring yourself eventual disappointment. Live your life standing solely upon the assurance of God’s promises, and the security of His presence. Live knowing that you are His child. Nothing but the presence of God can offer genuine security. Anything less is an illusion—a false assumption.
Fifthly, God is working through my “light affliction.” I use that term “light affliction” for two reasons. Paul used it in 2 Corinthains 4:17 when talking about our physical burdens in light of the eternal blessings of God. And I know so many people with far more difficult burdens in life. For instance, some of the teenagers in my youth group are in God’s graduate school of affliction, and me—I’m just a kindergartener! But already, God is at work in this affliction. Just two days ago, one man, halfway around the world, wrote to me and has since trusted Christ as a result of my last post. Others are hearing the Gospel and will be saved as a result.
Beyond that, many have written and shared that something I wrote helped or strengthened them in their own trial. There is no more wonderful experience in all the world than to be used by God, in any circumstance. I pray that He will use this, and use me and my family, to encourage and help as many people as possible in the coming months.
In closing, I ask you again to pray for my family—for strength and grace. And pray, if it’s God’s will, that He will heal me and give doctors wisdom in treatments. Whatever the outcome, I love God, trust Him, and am determined to live for Him for the rest of my life.
Regarding this blog and future cancer updates, I have no intention of making this a cancer log. I’m excited about future things that I plan to post, and desire to continue sharing helpful thoughts, encouragement, and ministry ideas. For those who want to follow the health updates, I’ll create a page of running updates that you can click on in the header. As for the rest of the blog, expect things I’m learning, but mostly unrelated to my health.
Thanks again for reading and for praying for us. Thank you for your encouragement! God is GOOD—very, very, very GOOD! If you don’t know Him, write to me… I would love to introduce you to Him!
Pressing forward with confidence in the Lord Jesus,