Plot twist: I’ve got cancer.

Also, Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and my Savior, and I’m more grateful for that than ever.

I didn’t see that coming.  No risk factors and no typical symptoms, other than a low-grade fever that could have been many things.

But the blessings from this have been many.

It could have gone undetected a long time, but through a series of other ailments and unusual circumstances I ended up getting scans that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

The healthcare system here has been amazing, with multiple doctors who have never met collaborating quickly to get tests and results.  I am grateful for first-world medical care.  This could have been a death sentence in most parts of the world and certainly most times in history.  The doctors are so skilled at reading things like CT scans.  They look like blobs of grey to me, but they can quickly see where things are amiss.  But I do laugh when they try to point things out to me, as if I could actually follow along.  They could tell me, “Now here’s the spot where there is a unicorn inside you” and I’d say, “Uh, yeah, sure, provided that you ask me no follow-up questions, I see the horn right there . . .”

It is non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (though we didn’t know that right away), which has a high success rate in treatment.  And it will be probably be addressed via chemotherapy (we should be meeting with the oncologist next week to get a treatment plan).  I was hoping to get through life without chemo, but that is still better than chemo + surgery (the first reviews of the CT scan indicated that it might have been going from my left kidney — my favorite!! — to my stomach, which could have meant losing all of the former and some of the latter).

From a practical standpoint, it has prompted me to document our finances and such even more.  We’ve had wills, power of attorney (medical and legal) forms, etc. along with some general documentation, but I realized it would help to do even more.  After all, even aside from this I could die in an accident any day.  I read about a woman who was so grateful that her husband carefully documented all their financial information so that when he died things were so much easier for her.  It doesn’t fit the worldly definition of love and romance, but it is a great gift to leave your loved ones.  Grieving over losing you will be bad enough, but spending stressful hours sorting out your finances and such will make things harder for them.  So I’ve got a list of things to update to make it more clear about passwords, insurance, retirement accounts, bill paying, etc. I encourage you to do the same.

I am reminded of what a fantastic wife I have and how completely wise and supportive she has been through this.  And my children are amazing, and the rest of the family, friends, co-workers and church family have been tremendous as well.  What an indescribable blessing.

I am much more empathetic to many brothers-in-Christ and others who live with chronic pain.  The last couple months were rough as they included a variety of unusual ailments.  But they pale in comparison to what others deal with on a continuing basis.  Their perseverance and faith are a humbling inspiration to me in light of my far lesser issues.

This was a friendly reminder about our mortality.  Make no mistake: Whether you have 40 more minutes or 40 more years, you will directly face the one true God some day (Psalm 90:12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom).  At the risk of being Captain Obvious, you will not sit in judgment of God or dictate the terms and conditions of life to him.   You can’t dictate the terms and conditions to parents, bosses, teachers, police, or even a McDonald’s cashier, so don’t be foolish and think you can do that with God. The rich young ruler walked away sadly when he didn’t like God’s requirements but Jesus didn’t chase after him to negotiate.  Repent and believe now while you can and accept God’s unbelievably gracious forgiveness through Jesus.

I don’t wish these experiences on anyone, but really knowing where your faith is in situations like this is a true blessing.   In the midst of all this – especially when things were less clear — I can honestly say I had contentment through Christ, just as He promised in Philippians 4* and elsewhere.  Yes, there were anxious moments wondering about different scenarios, but whenever I refocused on Jesus I was at ease.  I’ve been sleeping well and am truly trusting in his sovereignty.  Whether I live or die, I trust in what He said in Philippians 1**

Our main prayer is that we won’t waste any of this.  God has already given us many opportunities to encourage others and to share this to his glory.  I did drop the ball once — which I pray won’t happen again — when I failed to pray with a visibly nervous guy in a waiting room.  I prayed for him but should have prayed with him.  We really want to look to the interests of others and not just our own, as in Philippians 2***.  (Yes, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Philippians :-)).

All that said, I have to admit that this involves three things I’m not fond of:

  1. Medical stuff (time, $, decisions, uncertainty, pain)
  2. Things that make my wife anxious
  3. Being the center of attention

Prayers are welcomed, not just for healing and minimal side effects 🙂 but that Christ would be glorified every step of the way**** and that others could be comforted and encouraged throughout this.

It is always a good day to be a Christian, but in times like this I especially enjoy it.

P.S. If you would like a great, easy to read summary of the Bible and Christianity, I highly recommend The Story of Reality by Greg Koukl. Even if you don’t end up believing you will have a much better understanding of what you disagree with.


*Philippians 4:10–14 I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.

**Philippians 1:15–26 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

***Philippians 2:3–4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

****Ephesians 6:18–20 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

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