I’ve had a lot of time on my hands since Christmas. Mostly I spend it lying in bed or sacked out on the couch, mindlessly watching TV. Sometimes something good is on Fox, other times I just channel surf to pass the time. It might sound unproductive, and prior to the cancer arriving I would have agreed, but lying in bed so often has given me the opportunity to think about a lot of things. These thoughts are the blueprints for my future. A future that is radically different to the one I envisaged 5 months ago.
When I was diagnosed someone told me that after the initial shock subsided I would get very angry. I forget who said it but it doesn’t really matter. They were wrong. As bizarre as it may sound, I feel like this cancer is quite possibly one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Yes, the treatment is horrible and my life (as I knew it) has been put on hold indefinitely, but it has made me really re-evaluate a lot of the things I once held dear. It’s made me appreciate my family and friends so much more and realise that possessions mean squat when you’re faced with the real possibility of dying. Most importantly, it has made me so very aware that the God I believe in is so much bigger and so much closer to me than I ever could have imagined.
Through history God has had many names, one of them being Immanuel, meaning ‘God with us’. I have never known that to be more true than right now.
In the song ‘Hallelujah’, Leonard Cohen sings…
There’s a blaze of light in every word
It doesn’t matter which are heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah.
I think it’s safe to say that my Hallelujah falls under the ‘broken’ category.
There’s little about me that would instill theologians or bishops or popes with enough confidence to pronounce it of the “holy” variety.
But that’s ok with me.
I’m quite happy to be nothing and nobody… for a number of reasons actually… but primarily because when it’s your time to stand up and do your thing, and you’re a nothing and a nobody, the somethings and the someones never see you coming. And there’s nothing quite so effective as a blindside sucker punch.
I don’t know why this cancer is here. I have to trust that God’s ways are higher than my own and whatever the reason there will be immense good that will come from it, one way or another, and that somehow this trial will become the foundation for great things done for God. Woven into the fabric of my life will be an understanding of what it is to suffer, and from that understanding will flow compassion and mercy.
Psalm 139:15-16 says this:
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
So while this disease and all that comes with it may seem chaotic, I know there is method in the madness. Not my methods, but the methods of a God who holds the universe in His hands… who knew me from the moment I was conceived in the womb…. who has walked beside me every day of my soon to be 35 years on this earth. I don’t understand everything that’s happening and it’s quite possible I never will…. not while I inhabit this body anyway….. but I know that whatever happens, God is in control and he has promised he will never leave me or forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5)
Or, as it is translated in The Message:
“…God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” (so) we can boldly quote,
God is there, ready to help;
I’m fearless no matter what.
Who or what can get to me?”
I don’t know about you but that gives me a tremendous amount of confidence that everything is going to be alright. Who or what can get to me? Certainly not cancer.
Because of His goodness to me I will sing Hallelujah.
Hallelujah because I am responding so well to treatment. So well, in fact, that my nurses can’t wait to give me my blood results each time they come in.
Hallelujah because I have a wife who loves me and is standing with me in this battle… never flinching.
Hallelujah because I have two beautiful, healthy children who think their Daddy is the best Daddy in the world, even when his brain is messed up from the chemo drugs.
Hallelujah because my God walks beside me and fights the battle for me. He commands his angels concerning me and they guard me carefully. He is my fortress, my hiding place while the battle for my life rages around me. He stands between me and the sickness that would seek to take my life and says to the sickness “no further… you will not harm him”.
Hallelujah because I am still alive…. and will be for many decades to come.
There are so many reasons to sing Hallelujah…. so many…. and as long as I have air in my lungs you will hear my Hallelujah.
Whatever you see in me that you think is good comes from Heaven.
It’s not my doing…. it’s His.