Today's post was supposed to be about meatloaf.
And then we got some news yesterday that shook us. It was the kind of news that makes you lose focus in a good way and makes things like meatloaf & furniture makeovers seem as insignificant in this life as they really are.
Someone reading this today knows what it's like to pray for years for good news & hold on for dear life to the thread of hope you have in your heart that one day you will receive it. I want to encourage you.
Ten days before Christmas in 2002, my dad was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer. For the the first few days, my family and a lot of other people tried to come to grips with the knowledge that my dad might be gone in a few short months, due to the fierce nature of pancreatic cancer. A few days later, we were relieved to discover that his type of cancer was very rare, accounting for less than 5% of all pancreatic cancer cases. What it meant to us was more time. Statistics showed that, although there is still no cure, patients with this type of cancer usually live years rather than months before it takes their life.
My dad, who is the most optimistic person I know, told me at that time that we could hold onto the hope that since he was given the extra time, perhaps a treatment would be found before it was too late for him.
Since then, he's experienced almost 9 years of daily pain that never completely goes away, procedures that offered little hope, extreme sickness & hospital stays, & doctors who had nothing to offer. He has watched countless people be diagnosed & die of cancer within that time, including Steve Jobs who had the same rare type of cancer that he has. It's the roller coaster life of a cancer patient.
This past May, he reached a very low point. He was feeling worse than ever, continually losing weight, & feeling the cancer begin to take over everything. The little help that his doctor had been able to offer was finally exhausted, and he was told again that there was nothing that can be done for him.
I have to say that as much as I've prayed for him, I had pretty much given up about praying for that miracle treatment. But God never forgot.
Within weeks of leaving the doctor's office without any hope, a new drug was approved for his type of cancer. We immediately saw the hand of God in it as He provided a way for him to get it despite the unbelievable expense.
My dad knew pretty quickly that it was helping him. He began to take less of his pain meds & other treatments. He began to feel better than he had in many years. We were thrilled, not knowing exactly how the drug was working, but just thankful it was.
And then yesterday, he received the results of his routine CT scan and he was given something he hasn't received very often in 9 years: the gift of good news. The drug has caused a significant reduction in his tumors. It was news we almost didn't have the faith to expect. It was cold water to our thirsty souls. It was the answer God sent when we'd almost forgotten we'd asked.
I can honestly say I haven't really questioned why God has allowed this trial to come to my dad. He's a pastor. Many people depend on him. And he has influenced thousands. Some people wonder, "Why him, when he's needed by so many people?". I've known why from near the beginning. I know it's because God knows that no matter what he goes through, my dad will use the opportunity to glorify Him. And whether that means continuing to serve God through unimaginable physical stress or giving Him the glory when miraculous things occur, he will do that. My dad has told me several times that no matter what happens to him, his main goal through all of it is to not waste the opportunity that God has given him. Cancer. Trials. Setbacks. Victories. It's all from Him.
If you're the one today that's waiting for Him to answer, consider this...He may be waiting for you. To see your trial as the opportunity it is. We tend to see healing as the ultimate goal. But that's our humanity butting in. The main thing is to know Him and then glorify Him, through our life and through our death. And then, even unexpectedly, He sometimes chooses to give you a miracle. And those are the days you don't have to be reminded to thank Him.
Here's a recent picture of my dad with his grandkids, 5 of which were born after he was diagnosed.
So, excuse me if I'm a little excited. The meatloaf can wait for another day. This just had to be said today.