Wednesday, September 25
Cancer, Noah's mom, and trying
You longtime readers may recall that Noah's mom had a recurrence of breast cancer after 19 years of living cancer free. That was more than two years ago.
She's been through a lot, ya'll. She has metastatic cancerous lesions on her spine. Some in some lymph nodes in her abdomen. She's broken her pelvis in a fall. And then she kept falling, a lot. And losing strength on her left side. And having some speech issues.
Debbie's been in the hospital for several weeks now, and for the past week and a half she's been receiving inpatient therapy to help her deal with these impairments. But guess what? The neurologists say there is no stroke. I mean, if it looks like a stroke, acts like a stroke, sounds like a stroke, it's gotta be a duck, right?
A couple of weeks ago, Noah's dad texted us to say that Debbie would be undergoing three separate spinal taps to test for a cancerous meningitis, which would explain all of her otherwise inexplicable symptoms.
Because of the nature of spinal fluid and cancer or whatever, they don't accept a negative result as a true negative until there are three of them. I guess the floaty cancer bits sometimes dodge the lumbar puncture needle or something? Regardless, horrific, I think we can all agree.
Before that first spinal, her longtime and trusted oncologist came in to brace them for that reality, explaining that there are treatments, but "it doesn't end well."
That day, I contacted about 30 friends and told them what was going on, inviting them to take part in a day of fasting and prayer on Debbie's behalf. I decided I'd fast from social media and computers; any time I felt the inclination to get on my phone or my computer, I'd instead pray for Debbie. Richard called me back a few minutes after I had him relay that info to Debbie, so she'd know there were lots of people behind her.
"Debbie specifically requests that you all pray for a miracle," he said.
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I frequently prayed like Jairus: I believe, but help my unbelief. Seems counterintuitive, right? Like "Of course I believe you! Except no I don't."
Nathan recently preached on Jairus, and I saw that story through a whole new lens. Faith is hard. Believing is hard. Trust is hard. Especially when times are tough, faith and belief and trust can feel less authentic and more like grasping at straws, for me anyway. I'm one of those "intellectual" people who plays philosophical games, Abbot and Costelloing myself with so many circular questions.
But having difficulty with faith and belief and trust doesn't preclude me from experiencing the yields of those things. I'm trying, and even though I suck at it, it's in the trying that faith and belief and trust are actually found. God can work with that. God works with people who try—exclusively, actually. Otherwise he wouldn't work with anybody.
* * *
Yesterday Debbie received her third negative result.
I urge all of you: Try.