This past year and a half has been a drain on our family… on Brian’s and my marriage, on the children, on my parents. It is exhausting to be constantly fighting for survival–survival of us, of our hearts. Sometimes it seems survival of our very faith, even though I know that He Who began a good work will complete it…
Years ago, I wrote of how my sweet Bear was struggling as his fear turned physical for him, and almost every night we found him coming to us or running to the bathroom with nausea and feeling as if he might throw up. Every time, he cried and begged us to pray for him, to ask God that he wouldn’t throw up because he hated it so much.
One time my mom was with him during one of his episodes. He said to her as he shook and swayed, his little body clammy and weak, “Oh, Grandma, I hope God answers yes and not no to our prayer.”
As heart-breaking as this all was for me, for him, for us to go through, I marveled at the wisdom of a 7-year-old boy. He got it. God doesn’t just answer our prayer when we get what we want, when the yes comes.
Even a no is an answer…
God chose yes that night for Bear and chose yes subsequent nights, although Bear’s misery was obvious. And each time we thanked God for His mercy that He would choose yes. But if the answer were no, we would thank Him as well. We would thank Him for strength to get through it and for hearing our prayers even when we didn’t like the answer.
God always… always answers prayer.
He is no less good and no less loving and no less God when the answer is no.
But, y’all, this week…this week has been a resounding YES.
My oncologist called me this week. “Your PET crossed my desk, and I know Brian often takes time from work to come with you to your appointments. I didn’t want him to have to miss time, so I thought I’d call you with the news.” (Can I just interject again how awesome she is?!) And y’all the news was good. This morning I met with her and we went over the scan.
Are y’all sitting down? If not, please do.
There is NO activity. NO hot spots. Nothing that would indicate active disease. My abdomen is clear. My chest and neck are clear.
Because of the nature of my cancer, there will never be a time when she will look at me and say that I am cancer free, because there could always be residual disease lurking that is too small for the scan to pick up, but for today, she said, “This is the best possible PET we could have asked for.”
Oh, y’all. OH, Y’ALL!
We are so overcome, so thankful, and yet still cautiously optimistic.
There are two spots on my bones (one one my hip and another in my spine) they are watching, but she cannot confirm one way or the other that it’s cancer. They’re are too small to be active on a PET.
So, where do we go from here?
I continue on the current course of treatment. I started my new chemo a week ago, and I have had minimal side effects so far. This is the week where I should start to anticipate more. My blood counts are lowering, so fatigue is hitting, and I have to be careful of infection. I’ll stay on my diet and supplement regimen. They will see how I tolerate this new chemo, do another PET in a few months to see if the cancer is still being suppressed, and then we will make decisions from there.
There are days where I question why I am doing this… feeling so miserable in order to live. When I know it’s working, it makes it a whole lot easier.
In staff meeting this week, we discussed Acts 27 and Paul’s shipwreck on his way to Rome. He knew he would make it to Rome. God had told him so. And as the ship shuddered and the men feared for their lives, Paul tells them in verse 25, “Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told.” It struck a deep chord with me and I shared it with them. We know. We know how it ends. We’ve been told in His Word, and it’s a glorious telling.
A co-worker spoke up, “Yes, and look at vs. 26,” she said, “Nevertheless, we must run aground…” Nevertheless. We know how it ends. We don’t know what life will look like in between. We will run aground here on earth, but we know it will turn out exactly as we have been told.
I do not understand God’s ways. I do not understand why I have been given a yes for now and other friends have been given a no. I beg God for them, that they will still receive a yes… but for all of us, I pray for grace to accept His will no matter what that will may be. And I know that it is the glory of God to conceal a matter. (Proverbs 25:2)
He is not unfaithful. He cannot be.
And His final answer, whether my cancer explodes again or not, is and will be yes for us. As I have studied the Psalms and Isaiah, I am struck by how many times God says, “I will…”
My final hour on this earth, whenever that may be is a final “I will.” I will bring you to glory… to no more pain, no more tears, no more sin, no more cancer. I will bring you to perfection, to ultimate peace and joy and love, to Christ, to HOME.
His promises are true, and one day I will hear it…
The final yes to all my prayers and longings…
Until then, may I have faith like my Bear, who asks God for anything and hopes for yeses and not noes, who accepts His will no matter what, and utters thanksgiving for either answer.
“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.” (~Shauna Niequist)