Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Christus Interruptus

A former boss of mine who moved on to a job in California that is a perfect fit for his passion has cancer. We hadn't communicated with each other much since he left, but when I learned of his ailment I quickly contacted him and his wife, with whom I also used to work.

He's gone through a lot already and there's more to come, but we're a lot more hopeful than we were initially when the diagnosis was "pancreatic" cancer, which is a particularly vile form of the disease in that by the time it's usually diagnosed, there's nothing that can really be done. It turned out that diagnosis was wrong (get a second opinion when someone says "Sorry, get your affairs in order") and although the situation is still serious, this guy is a fighter with a very positive attitude.

In any case, we've been emailing on and off primarily dealing with spiritual issues, something I don't think we ever discussed face to face. He's at MD Anderson in Houston for a few days for treatment and will then head back home. While at MD Anderson though he said he's been really "inspired" by the fellowship that cancer fighters, survivors and their loved ones have with each other. The common experiences they share in their personal battles allow a level of empathy and "community" which he's found both surprising and uplifting.

I responded to my friend, whose spiritual side has admittedly moved to the forefront as a result of his cancer battle, that whether he realizes it or not...this is sort of high ground theology. The healing nurturing nature of relationship...especially when it comes to our relationship with God. God wants a personal relationship with us and when we abide by that wish, not half-hearted, He will uplift us like no other.

I thought a lot about this today as Amy was having her brain scanned and I was trying to think of almost anything besides that procedure and its possibilities.

On one or two occasions recently I've alluded to that fact that Amy is having some health issues which are worrisome. I suppose I should spell out a few more details, although really I don't know much, which is part of the problem.

Those of you who've put up with my ramblings for a while know this is not the first time. We've been on this roller coaster health journey for some seven years. However in the last year or two Amy has been better - at least staying out of the hospital. Now though, she's experiencing not only some of her "old" symptoms but some new things are going on that are disturbing and as yet unexplained. She's falling down a lot...various body parts go into sudden very painful cramps, she's having more trouble focusing on tasks, etc.

So we're going back to square one.

After talking with one of the members of our "medical team," we decided to make sure there's not something "new" which we're overlooking because we're focused too much on her past problems. So this means a C-T, blood tests, an M-R-I and the like. It also means we wait...and we pray.

Between my friend's cancer and Amy's health, I was consumed today with this idea of how often "our plans" or "our lives" or "our careers" are interrupted by the unexpected, the unplanned, and all too often the unspoken.

It is easy to get into an attitude of silent suffering or self-pity in situations like this...Lord knows I have gone that route before and I ain't ruling it out this time.

However I do also have the perspective of time and experience now.

I honestly can say that as terrifying and heart-wrenching as I found some of Amy's previous health situations, it was during those very times that Amy and I moved closer to God...and to each other.

I witnessed miracles...absolutely.

I'm not saying that God deliberately inflicts suffering on us to get our attention, but I honestly believe that God does see opportunity for "intervention" in our suffering and calls out to us to refocus on our relationship with Him during such times.

I know at least He has with me...and when I've been smart enough to actually listen...I've learned the quickest, most lasting path to peace in times of such discomfort is to turn to God.

My friend with cancer always ends his emails with the phrase "Winning Is The ONLY Option!!"

I suppose soon I'll have to suggest that he give some thought to the idea that the best, most proven and workable game plan for victory is to surrender it all to Him.

"Cast thy burden upon the Lord" - Psalm 55:22