Friday. To quote my son: “Cancer is an interesting thing. It takes you on a journey into the depths of who you are and really makes you look at what is important in life…” (a quote from his blog, survivingsarcoma.com). Interesting, indeed! He’s so right, of course. He has been there. While I was right beside him, trying to live it “with” him, wishing I could live it “for” him, he was the one actually down in the trenches. He is the one who can now identify with anyone who is battling or has battled cancer. For sure, the treatment is like waging war. For sure, the whole routine is invasive in a way that nothing else is — the chemo invades the body to attack it and kill off all the new growth of cells. The definition of chemotherapy is the treatment of disease by the use of chemical substances, especially the treatment of cancer by cytotoxic and other drugs. The word “toxic” kinda jumps off the page, and it is the main purpose of chemo — toxicity being injected into the bloodstream in an attempt to stop the progression of the other deadly poison that is present: a malignancy.
I think that once someone has entered that room where only cancer patients are admitted, often they develop a certain mindset, complete with extra compassion and a true burden for others. It comes with the territory. It’s not a bad thing, either. As a Christian, I am called to be burdened for others — yet, there’s no teacher as effective as experience. The thorns-in-the-flesh of all sorts should deepen us and grow us into becoming more caring and compassionate people, even to the point of considering it a privilege… (James 1).
My nephew, Cole, will be heading into a different type of battle next week. He is being deployed to Afghanistan. While I feel at a loss for words for him, I will be praying non-stop for his safety while traveling over there, while there, and that he will safely return back home. This is my nephew whom I love going there, and I’m feeling a little over-protective right now, wishing he wouldn’t go! Haven’t told him that, of course. And, I surely am not even coming close to the same feelings that his parents have. My sister and her husband are quite proud of him, rightly so; and they know that this is exactly what Cole has trained for and chosen to do — serve his country in the military. I speak for my whole family when I say that we are so very proud of him. Yet, he’s soon to be “in the trenches” as a deployed soldier. As I see it, all of those deployed and serving in our military are heroes, willing to go into battle. No matter what their role, they are brave beyond measure.
So, is there a connection between cancer treatment and deployment to Afghanistan? Well, by the time Cole returns, he’ll be changed — he’ll identify with other soldiers in a way that those who haven’t served cannot do. He’ll be deeper in his understanding of the thin line between life and death. He’ll have faced the hard reality of danger. He’ll have had to call upon God for strength, endurance, help, and salvation.
Yes, I believe there is a connection.
James 1:2-5 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought.
Excerpts from 1 Corinthians 12 I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.” Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness.