Sam and I were watching a cooking show the other night. Sam really enjoys them – I can take them or leave them, but since I’m blessed to have a husband who loves to cook, I will gladly watch cooking shows if they inspire him.
This particular one was a competition show, and in giving the background on one of the contestants they said that he had just beaten cancer – for the fifth time. I have to say that really threw me. (Obviously since I’m still thinking about it several days later.) This guy goes through treatment, hears “You’re clear, the cancer is gone” only to have it come back four times? Now, for the fifth time, he is clean. But he has to be thinking – for how long?
I admit, that thought crosses my mind too. Not every day. Not what I would call often. But not exactly rarely either. It’s just kind of there, hovering. I’m someone different than I was last year – I’m a cancer survivor. And being a survivor is a wonderful, glorious thing! But on occasion, the dark side of that new definition of me peeks out and whispers, “and what if it comes back?”
My doctor told me I have a 70% chance of staying well. That is an excellent number in the cancer world. It’s a great statistic. Until you think about it…
How quickly would you get on a roller coaster with a sign that promised “7 out of 10 people will make it off this ride alive”? If you had a choice of 10 cups of water and only 3 were poisoned, would you feel carefree and cheerful taking a big gulp of the one you picked up? Or if a random selection of 3 out of every 10 people at your company were going to lose their jobs tomorrow, would you sleep easy?
No, my faith in the future isn’t in the statistics. And I’m not going to try to pretend to be some amazingly courageous woman who never gets scared or worried. But I will honestly say that I believe I have grown and learned more through this trial than at any other time, and I believe with all my heart that my life is in God’s hands. So whether the number is 3 in 10, 1 in 100, or 99%, it doesn’t matter. I will be healthy or not, have treatment or not, deal with trials or have some time of peace and blessing, as it glorifies God and serves his purpose to make me into the image of his Son Jesus.
I heard someone talking recently about struggles in their life. They said “I don’t understand why this is happening to me. I try to be good, I pray, I don’t do evil things, and yet bad things happen in my life.” It’s so sad to me when people misunderstand God in that way and believe that he is supposed to make life nice and easy, and when it isn’t, it means God is failing them. It is our struggles that make us stronger, just as it is the fire that purifies gold. No athlete ever got ready for a big game by lying on a couch resting up. We get stronger by fighting, by pushing and struggling against not only circumstances but even more, against ourselves and our selfish reactions.
A dear friend of mine likes to tell the story of the silversmith who was purifying silver over a fire, skimming the impurities off the liquid silver as they rose to the top. Someone asked him when he would know it was finished and completely pure. His answer – “When I can see my face in it”. We are being purified to reflect the face of Jesus. No other purpose is truly worth living for.