what comes next

I’m doing fairly well.  I have a definite sore throat, a mild headache, a constantly runny nose, occasional mild nosebleeds,  sores in my nose, mild general pain in my abdomen and chest, and plenty of fatigue.  Honestly, that’s pretty good for a week plus after chemo.  I’m not having any severe reactions, I’m still able to work, I don’t have mouth sores so I am eating fine (too fine, in fact – thanks to the steroids I continue to gain weight.  Who gets cancer and gains weight??)

What I find interesting is that it is so predictable.  My doctor – who is the most wonderful doctor there is, just as a side note- can tell me to the day how long I will feel basically normal after the chemo, and when I will start to feel not so hot.  So far she has been right on the money every time.  She knows what is going on, and so when all of these symptoms hit, I have already been warned and I don’t have to worry, “Am I sick?  Is something wrong?”  I know it is the chemo killing cells – cancer cells (YAY!!!) but also other fast-growing cells, causing all the other problems.  As long as I listen to her and do what she says, I’m going to be all right.

However, when the other problems occurred a few weeks ago, I hadn’t been warned in advance.  It still didn’t take my doctor by surprise, but it did me.  Still, listening to her and doing what she said took care of everything.

Once again, my cancer gives me insight into my spiritual life, and I think about how God knows what is going on and what will happen.  Some things I have been told and some I have not been given the details about.  In any case, listening and obeying is all that is needed.  In my medical life, I don’t need to understand everything about lymphoma or chemotherapy.  I don’t need to be able to order the meds or tell you what is in them, or start my own IV.  I don’t even need to be able to pronounce my doctor’s last name.  I just need to do what she says, when she says, and believe that she knows the answers to save my life.

In my spiritual life, I don’t need to know how to fix everything.  I don’t need to be able to perform perfectly.  I don’t need to be holy enough or smart enough or good enough or impress enough people.  I don’t need to be good enough for God.  It doesn’t matter how many Bible verses I know or if I can teach Sunday School.  I just need to do what God says and believe that he knows the answers to save my life.  One of those answers has been the verse he gave me at the very beginning of this journey – Isaiah 41:13

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

So I am doing my best to obey – not to fear, but to simply remember that he IS the Lord, he is MY God, he holds my hand, not the other way around, and he says to ME not to be afraid because he will help me.  This isn’t just about the cancer, or whether I will live or die, but about life itself – like talking to a friend about how much she needs to know the Lord even though I’m afraid she is sick of hearing it.  About trying to trust God for the future in a situation where I just want to be angry and cynical at people because in my human mind I’m afraid they aren’t doing the right thing.  About stepping outside myself and trying to focus on how much other people need love and attention and care, when what I want to do sometimes is just be a couch potato and say “I’ve got cancer, I’ve got an excuse, leave me alone.”

I can trust the Great Physician to know what I need, and to let me know what to do next, and to take care of me.  Most assuredly and especially, to take care of me.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11

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