Sunday, October 3, 2010

Cancer: A Lesson to Learn?

My friend, Ray, has cancer. Multiple myeloma, which is a bone cancer, or more specifically a plasma cancer. He got pneumonia early in the year, and in the process of getting treatment for that, they found that his white blood count was very low, and that his blood proteins were very high.

So, now he has gone through 4 stages of low-dose chemotherapy, and one stage of high-dose chemotherapy. His dark hair has fallen out, leaving only the white stuff. It’s wispy and thin, and makes him look really old (and he’s my age, so that means he’s really not that old at all). He goes in for his 6th dose, a mega-dose, this next Thursday.

I am so glad that medicine has advanced as far as it has. But this really stinks. I know that good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people, and blah, blah, blah. I get it. I just don’t like that he got cancer. And it’s not even a “but for the grace of God, go I” kind of thing. It just bums me out.

We have had a few chances to visit since I heard about it, and we have had some great discussions. One of the things that has amazed Ray is that many people have said, “What does God want you to learn from this?” and “Why did this happen to you?” (with the underlying insinuation that it is a punishment)

Now first of all, if you know me at all, you should know that I believe in a “personal God,” one that cares and is involved in blessing not only my life, but the life of all of his children. But like Ray, I draw the line at this. I don’t believe God has the time or inclination to continually smack his children with challenge after challenge, or worse, to figure out ways to hurt us. I wouldn’t do that to my kids, so why should I assume that God would, either.

But just because we are mortal, there are challenges. And some of them really stink! Will we learn from them? Certainly. Can we be kinder, gentler, friendlier because of them? Of course. But we could also be miserable, angry, and bitter.

I have made my choice. And that choice is to love, to be grateful, and to try to make the best of the circumstances that I face. I have found that God has, and will, step in on occasion, and take away the pain, hardship, and challenge. My job is to do the best with it that I can, not judge, and move forward in faith and trust.

But, let’s keep trying to get rid of the rotten things that can happen. Let’s work for peace, for security, and for an end to terrible diseases.

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