October has become known for pink reminders everywhere of the battle against breast cancer. I am grateful for all that is done to defeat this dread disease. My dear wife just passed the five year survivor mark this year.
She dropped the phone and burst into tears
The doctor just confirmed her fears
Her husband held it in and held her tight
Cancer don’t discriminate or care if you’re just 38
With three kids who need you in their lives
He said, "I know that you’re afraid and I am, too
But you’ll never be alone, I promise you"
I remember facing those fears with Joni. I remember promising to walk with her through the valley. I am not a hero. It was my chance to be there for her as she had been my stalwart for so many years. The chorus of McBride’s song describes my desire to serve her.
When you’re weak, I’ll be strong
When you let go, I’ll hold on
When you need to cry, I swear that I’ll be there to dry your eyes
When you feel lost and scared to death,
Like you can’t take one more step
Just take my hand, together we can do it
I’m gonna love you through it.
I thought about the better or worse clause in our wedding vows. Cancer was not in the brochure I had pictured for our lives. But the amazing thing about the journey with Jesus is that He works good out of bad. Joni and I drew closer. I was humbled by the strength and depth of her faith. I was amazed by her courage, spirit, and resilience. I was challenged by her lack of self-pity. I now appreciate the good days a lot more and trust Him more during the bad ones. For me it was a privilege to serve a woman who had given selflessly to our family for so many years.
During her chemotherapy Joni’s wrote these words in her blog.
“I don’t like being sick but God keeps reminding me that He is in charge of my body, the cancer, the treatments and the timing even though I feel so out of control. When I am able to relinquish control of my situation is when He can work. Lord, I thank you for Dave, my earthly rock, and I thank you that you are my true Rock. Psalms 31:3…For thou art my rock and my fortress; for thy name’s sake Thou wilt lead me and guide me.”
We are called to “love” people through trials and storms. I remember my bride making a declaration of trust when she faced an uncertain future with her breast cancer diagnosis. Her words inspired me then and now. "I am not and I will not question God."
Joni did not want to go through what she went through. But she knew that God had been faithful and she believed that would not change. It did not.
We have seen how God has used our trials in our lives and in the lives of others through His grace. In the book “The Perfect Loss” author Chip Dodd begins the volume with these words.
"Life is tragic; God is faithful."
I believe that. I believe in His faithfulness. I believe in the joy that's coming. I believe in a God who used brokenness and hurt to tear down my protective walls to learn how to trust Him and others with my needs. I believe I can live in a realm of grace that allows me to see and love others without the judgment that clouded the eye of my heart for so long. And I believe in the outcome of the journey no matter how tough it can be at times.
Paul wrote this to the church at Corinth.
...As God's grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. (2 Corinthians 4, NLT)
I pray that you hold firm to your trust when "life" happens. And I pray that you and I will remember that we are God’s hands and feet on this planet to “love” people through tough times. That is how the body of Christ should function. They may respect us for our knowledge and doctrine but they will know we are Christians by our love.