The Four Freshmen recorded a song in 1956 that was later covered by the Beach Boys. The song was called “Graduation Day” and the lyrics went something like this…actually they went exactly like this.
Theres a time for joy
A time for tears
A time we’ll treasure through the years
Well remember always
That song came to mind as I remembered a day with far more impact for me than graduation day. That day was March 20, 2006.
Theres a time for joy
A time for tears
A time when we felt numb with fears
We’ll remember always
Every cancer patient will remember always that dreaded diagnosis day. I will never forget that call from my wife telling me (between sobs) that her tests were positive for breast cancer. Joni endured a very hard year of chemotherapy and radiation. During that time a song by Ricky Skaggs resonated with us. The song is called Somebody’s Prayin’and here is a snippet of the lyrics.
Well, I’ve walked through barren wilderness
When my pillow was a stone
And I’ve been through the darkest caverns
Where no light had ever shown.
Still I went on ’cause there was someone
Who was down on their knees
And Lord. I thank you for those people
Prayin’ all this time for me.
Now we are five years down a hard road and Joni is still cancer free. We want to humbly and gratefully thank everyone for praying for us.
Somebody’s prayin’, I can feel it
Somebody’s prayin’ for me
Mighty hands are guiding me
To protect me from what I can’t see
Lord I believe, Lord I believe
Somebody’s prayin’ for me…
Readers of my books or my regular blog over at Confessions of a Bad Christian know that I can be a bit cynical. So I have to confess that it surprised me that I felt the prayers of so many people praying for us.
Now we look back on that diagnosis and marvel at how well we weathered this storm. I would be less than honest if I said we have not had down times. But God’s grace and the comfort of His Holy Spirit has been sufficient for the trial. I have no doubt that the prayers of many saints were a huge part of that strength. Here is an excerpt from a blog I wrote just before the start of her treatments five years ago.
God is in control. He has a plan. We don’t know what that plan is. But whatever it is we believed that He will give us strength and grace for the journey ahead.
Then we told God our desires.
We desired that Joni would be completely healed. We desired that God would use our journey to help others. We desired that we not “Waste our Cancer” but that He would be glorified through us in the process.
And then we accepted our bottom line.
We are not in control. We have confidence in the One who is. And we prayed like Jesus did in the garden. Okay…it was a loose imitation but we prayed the same kind of prayer. We wish this cup could be removed but not our will but Yours God be done.
Many friends and family prayed for Joni and for me. I guess you kind of expect that. Or at least you hope that will be the case. What has touched and blessed us is that people all over the world prayed that didn’t even know us personally. Some prayied because of my blog. Some because of prayer requests posted at churches and ministries around the country. It has been an incredible demonstration of the body of Christ at it’s best. We see the not so flattering aspects of the church at times and I don’t shy away from that reality. But the fellowship and unity in Christ that we have experienced through Joni’s cancer has been inspiring and healing.
Diagnosis Day seems like a long, long time ago. Now we have reached graduation day with five years for Joni as a survivor. That is still not a guarantee but it is a very hopeful milestone. And if we may paraphrase the Apostle Paul and his words to the believers at Ephesus.
We have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in our prayers. We keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (Ephesians 1, NIV)
No matter what happens we have had some important truths reinforced that Paul learned and passed along to the Church at Corinth.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12, NIV)
Sometimes there is healing. Sometimes that prayer is not answered. But we learned without question what Paul described.
His grace is sufficient. His power is made perfect in our weakness. God is faithful no matter what diagnosis life dispenses.