This is not the post I intended to write this week. I’ve been working on a post in my head about encouraging the imaginations of our children and ourselves. I did a little online research, listened to a podcast, saved a bunch of links and even had some pictures ready to plug in. Then I sat down to write and……nothing. So then I checked my email, partially from distraction and partially just out of habit. There were three emails in my inbox all from friends dealing with cancer – one needs a bone marrow transplant, one is undergoing experimental chemotherapy that (for the moment) seems to be working. One has been given a terminal diagnosis. I hate cancer. I. Hate. Cancer.
Earlier this year, a beloved former teacher at our school died. Cancer. It’s been just over year since a student at our school died. Cancer. My love for watching sports helps me see that September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (I’m saddened that we even need such an awareness.); next month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My mom is a breast cancer survivor. Another teacher friend of mine is also a breast cancer survivor. So many lives touched by cancer. So many lives taken by cancer. If you’re reading this post, the chances are high that you too know or have lost someone to cancer. I hate cancer.
Yes, I know, this is an art blog. You come here to be encouraged, to look at beautiful art. You don’t come here to read about cancer or think about those who’ve been ravaged by this hateful disease. Don’t quit reading just yet!
Hope in Cancer
When I sat my girls down to tell them about our friends who are dealing with cancer, my sweet five year old immediately said, “but it’s ok Mom, because they can go to Heaven and be with Jesus.” Yes, yes they can. But we who remain will grieve and rightfully so. 1 Thessalonians instructs us not to grieve as those who “have no hope.” Why? how is our grief as Christians to be different? Because our hope is in Christ and His return, the promised resurrection, the future of an eternity reigning with Him. Notice that we are not instructed not to grieve. Grief over death and loss can be God honoring. Death remains the enemy.
I find myself going back to Laura’s painting and thinking about my daughter’s response.
When we re-did our home page I wrote:
We don’t know where you stand on the idea of Heaven, but as Christians we believe there is a Heaven. The Bible describes Heaven as a place where there is no more death, sickness, pain, or even crying. Heaven is where all the wrongs and brokenness we experience here on earth are wiped away because Christ is seated on His rightful throne.
Can you even imagine a place where there is no pain, no broken relationships, no sickness? A place of perfect love and perfect community. Here, it feels as though everything is a little off, a little out of focus. In Heaven life works the way it was meant to work, and we see things as they really are. And when community and relationships work here, despite the messiness and mistakes, we get a glorious foretaste of what it will be like there. There is real beauty, real goodness, real truth. We see dimly here, as through a veil. There we will see clearly, because we will see Christ face-to-face.
Hope of the Gospel
My friends may well see Christ earlier than I would like. But they will know no more pain, no more cancer, no more sadness. And one day, I will see them again, because of the hope of the Gospel.
So today, I will pray for them; I will remember that life is fleeting; I will hold my loved ones a bit tighter; and I will give thanks to the One who will one day wipe all those tears away. Reflecting on our mortality and holding on to the hope (and the Hope) of Heaven can be an encouraging thing after all.
In what do you find hope? How do you remind yourself of that hope? Maybe you find yourself desperately in need of some hope – leave us a comment or send us an email. I promise we will pray for you! And if you or someone you love is facing a cancer diagnosis, may these articles be an encouragement to you.
Laura · September 22, 2016 at 3:19 pm
Thanks Michelle, for giving those of us who know the Lord a great perspective! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by sickness and the fallen world we live in. But we have hope, a hope so powerful than it can alter those around us. So let us be grateful and strengthen others with our faith and prayers.
Debbie Dayton · September 23, 2016 at 2:00 pm
I, too, have known cancer’s terrible toll. I lost a grandmother, grandfather, two uncles and nearly lost my own, dear husband last year. My mother is a breast cancer survivor and my father still battles skin cancer. There are many dear ones in our church family that are, right now, fighting this dreadful disease.
Yet, God has shown His mercy, grace and love, and even miracles in these struggles.
Last year, as my husband lay in a coma, I felt despair as I’ve never felt it before, and I am the mother of a son with sever autism and another adult son who is estranged and caught up in a world of drugs and sin. I felt I was in the midst of a raging storm, in the darkest night, all alone. I cried out to only One who could possibly rescue me to just hold me.
God performed two miracles for my husband while in the hospital. during his second emergency surgery, his Hindu surgeon later told him he died times on the table! And he said,”I didn’t bring you back, your God brought you back.”
Later, when he was in the coma, my daughter in Maryland prayed in Jesus’ name that the next day he would open his eyes at 10:30 am and it would be as thought he had just woken up from a bad dream,” and I won’t accept any other outcome, in Jesus’ name. AMEN!”
The next day it happened EXACTLY as she prayed! They doctors still can’t explain how. They and the nurses were amazed. When I left the hospital, I stood in the parking lot and shouted at the top of my lungs,” THANK YOU, JESUS!” I got a lot of strange looks.
My husband is now cancer free, although he is missing most of his colon and part of his small intestines. But he is back to taking care of our little hobby farm, and this is from a wheelchair due to his MS! We feel truly blessed!
We learned that God may have us walk through these trials, but He never makes us walk them alone! He is always right there with us. When we feel overwhelmed, lost, tossed, just call out to the one who said He would never leave us nor forsake us. He is our comfort, our rock.
Michelle · September 27, 2016 at 3:37 pm
What an amazing testimony of God’s grace! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Debbie!!
Nadia Decker · October 1, 2016 at 10:37 am
I honestly don’t know how I could go on with out the hope and grace that I have in our Lord. He has been with me through good and bad times (even when I wasn’t aware of His presence). My God is faithful (Lam 3:22-23).
Michelle · October 3, 2016 at 6:45 pm
I’m especially grateful for His grace to get you to the other side of cancer!