“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.”(1) What a placid way to discuss how the venom of disappointment poisons the soul.
Every week I ask God what He wants me to write about on this blog. And every week I get an answer. This week the answer was “disappointment and discouragement.” Sometimes I have experiences after learning the theme that help me in writing the post. (This happened with one of my last posts, “This Island, Man.”) I’d already been dealing with some disappointment and discouragement, though, so I thought I had my “teaching from experience” story for the week. I was wrong.
We had a doctor’s appointment Thursday to go over the results of my last PET scan, where we heard there were indications the cancer was returning. There were only a couple little spots, but that didn’t change the fact there were spots. Could they still be something else? Yes. We will biopsy them to make sure, but if they are lymphoma we will be starting down the chemo road all over again.
Now, I’ll admit, there’s a part of me that suspected something was amiss. When we had the CT scan prior to the PET scan, I had a feeling there would be something on it. Not a dread, just an impression. Same with the PET scan. So I can’t say I was beside myself with shock. But disappointed? That’s a whole other matter.
There’s a part of me that thinks, does this mean I wasn’t healed? Could I really have been that wrong?
There’s a part of me that thinks, it’s starting all over again.
There’s a part of me, the really tired part, the part that never completely recovered from the last chemo, that’s just sighing, wondering what will hit us next. Especially considering everything else I’ve been dealing with recently. (To protect others I won’t go into the rest of my recent disappointments and discouragements. I don’t want anyone to get hurt by my words or feelings.)
There’s a part of me that wonders if I have misled people in what I’ve said, in what I’ve stood for. This is the one that plagues me the most.
So where do we go from here? When the rug’s been pulled out from under us how do we keep moving forward?
How can we even be sure what direction forward is?
We start by reading this.
“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. … For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. …
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”(2)
I’ve been reevaluating what I know to be the purpose for my life, and my priorities. I’ve been taking a second look at what’s happened to me the past few months. I’ve been forgiving those who have hurt me. And I’ve been tracking down the light at the end of the tunnel. I think I’ve just about found it.
Can I now admit that what happened to me over these past few months had no more to do with God’s healing than any run-of-the-mill chemo therapy treatment does? That I was just lucky or resilient? No. I can’t. It was just too weird. There were too many strange occurrences and uncommon coincidences. No matter what the outcome now, I cannot say with a pure conscience that I was not touched by God.
I still believe that God is our healer. Having said that, we still have biopsies to accomplish of the affected regions. I am believing that those spots will be found to be benign, or to be gone altogether. But if they’re not, I am, once again, going to lean on the example of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah: I believe that God will save me from this. But even if He doesn’t, I will remain firm. God has proven Himself to me more times than I can count. Why would I forsake Him now? If I must travel down this road again, then so be it. There must be more lives for me to touch going that way than going the other. I will not fail. I will stand strong. And I would very much appreciate you standing with me.
There are many things that are different about this time than the last. I’m not going into it flat on my back, for one. But most importantly, I’m not afraid any more. I’m not afraid of this cancer. I’m not afraid of changes to my job or family or life. And that is, for me, a very significant difference.
Disappointment and discouragement can unravel our lives, if we let them. They can poison our souls and leave us only a husk of the person we were supposed to be. But we can choose to rise above them. We can forgive. We can embrace the change. We can fight through and blaze a new trail. We can dare, against all materialistic reason, to hope. And we can find the light.
Who knows: maybe, when we finally reach it, we will find it to be much greater than the light we were originally chasing. Maybe, when all is said and done, we won’t see any other way it could have gone.
2 Corinthians 4:1, 6-10, 16-18