Cancer is an ugly visitor.It enters your home without asking. It rearranges your life. It takes over with or without your consent.
ALEXANDRIA (BP) – Cancer is an ugly visitor. It enters your home without asking. It rearranges your life. It takes over with or without your consent.
I remember a conversation about cancer with my friend Ricky several years ago. He told me his story of his father battling cancer, and I was quick to say I didn’t ever want to go through that with a family member.
But Ricky said he viewed the issue differently. Ricky told me how his father’s cancer was the greatest blessing of his life.
For the first time, he and his father had man-to-man conversations, instead of father-to-son talks. The two spent hours during the chemotherapy, telling each other the things they had always wanted to tell. Their love for each other grew deeper. Instead of sadness, there was great joy.
I thought about Ricky’s story these past 20 months as I watched my mother-in-law, Claudia, and my wife, Wendy, walk side-by-side as Claudia became a breast cancer survivor.
The two who were already close became even closer. I gave both Claudia and Wendy a double-banded ring to wear to remind them to pray for one another.
Then I saw something else. I saw Claudia’s cancer become a tool to share the love of Christ.
Claudia began to minister to other women in her church who had a loved one struggling with breast cancer. She began to pray for and to share with others in the therapy room.
Even the nurses became subjects for her prayers.
The doctors quickly found out they were not her source for healing. They were instruments of healing in God’s hands.
Cancer and disease in the life of a believer can become a source of thanksgiving, albeit an unwanted source.
My first lesson in giving thanks in all things came from Helen Lamas. She was my Training Union teacher in pre-teen years. In spite of my spitballs and horseplay in class, she loved me. Faithfully, she taught me about Jesus.
When I was in junior college, coastal counties in Mississippi were engaged in a battle over legalized gambling.
Helen joined the fight to keep it out of Jackson County. I drove her all over our county to distribute information to churches and others who would listen to her plea to keep it out. Jackson County became the only one of the three coastal counties to vote gambling down.
Helen was ecstatic for the victory and delighted to serve the Lord in the fight.
I was away at college when I received the call from my mother telling me that Helen was terminally ill. I was mad and upset all at the same time. I think I was even mad at God for letting such a faithful woman suffer.
As I entered her hospital room, I was wearing my pain all over my face. It wasn’t long before my faithful teacher was teaching me from her deathbed.
After she coaxed me into admitting my struggle with her sickness, she made a statement I’ll never forget. “Why Keith, if I wasn’t sick, I would never get to share my faith with all of these doctors and nurses.”
Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).