I hate cancer.
It grows in darkness. Reacts negatively to light. Exists only as a perversion—dysfunction so desperate that it forgets its rightful place in the body and breaks out, multiplies, and spreads.
It inserts itself into things that function perfectly well. Then overwhelms, consumes, and eventually replaces it.
In its wake, it leaves death.
I can’t help but think, as I watch cancer consume my brother, that it’s a mirror of the evil inside us.
Every time the word cancer hovers over our loved ones, fear punctures our hearts.
What’s strange is that, because sin is everywhere, we rarely bat an eye at the fact that for each of us, our soul-cancer is terminal.
Grappling with my brother’s illness has forced me to consider, “How do I live now?”
His worsening diagnosis has been like a slap waking me up from a pleasant dream.
I can’t live under the delusion that life will continue as it has. Not with such incontrovertible truth right in front of me.
On one hand, it feels perverse to act as if nothing’s wrong.
On the other, it feels like a waste to focus on suffering and fear.
How do we live a life of hope when it’s so clear that we’re destined for death?
How do we find joy in suffering? Love in loss? Peace in frightening circumstances?
How do we hope for healing, yet accept when it’s not given?
How do we surrender to reality, yet not give up?
How do we know the appropriate way to act, or the right words to speak, in the ever-changing seasons of life?
“For there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Training in theology, or philosophy, or mathematics – or other stores of knowledge – have their uses.
But there is a difference between knowledge and wisdom.
And I don’t think it’s by mistake that we find the above passage in one of the most famous books of wisdom in all of history.
Because where does wisdom come from?
From God. From his Holy Spirit.
And how does he give wisdom to us?
Bit by bit and day by day. Like manna from heaven, enough for the day. As we wait on him, rest in him, lean on him, treasure him in our hearts, and let his heart inform ours of the appropriate response to the moment.
This is why he tells us to give him everything.
Because only in complete surrender do we find everything we need. And only in his hands can we find safe passage from this life to the next.
We see pain and suffering, and even death itself, and our souls scream, “This is unnatural!”
But why? Why do we feel that?
Because we weren’t made for sin or it’s illegitimate child, death.
We were made for purity, and love, and dynamic life forever with Jesus.
“What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live: also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.” – Ecclesiastes 3:9-13
Wow. What else is left to say? God holds the keys to everything. So. . .
I will try to enjoy my time with my family, and do good all my days, and enjoy life with God and with others.
When the time comes to laugh, I will try to laugh.
And when the time comes to weep, I know I will have no problem weeping.
Because each day is a gift.
Each breath like a birthday.
And, because of Christ, even death becomes an open door.
It doesn’t change that loss is difficult.
It doesn’t make the pain not hurt.
But it does make it all mean something.
“For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” – Romans 14:8
Jesus. Help us. Have mercy. Give us strength. Guide us by your wisdom. Thank you for life! Both this life, and the next. Give us comfort in our affliction. Give us healing by your name. And give us life everlasting, and freedom from sin. Amen.
Comment below if there are any particular topics you’d like me to cover in this weekly devotional! Rather than let it be a personal diary (which it’s threatening to turn into), I want it to serve you better. Your feedback is critical to that! 🙂 Thank you, everyone, who has read and commented. I appreciate each one of you.