Oftentimes, stronger faith is healing enough

I’m struggling over this piece as I write. I don’t wish to generate discussion, which places any who might read this on one side or the other of the promises of healing that come through faith in God.

Many of you know, if you’ve ever read anything I’ve written before, that I have Multiple Myeloma. This is a cancer of the blood plasma cells. You might also know that I’m very confident that God has kept me for a very long time, eighteen years since diagnosis come this March 2018. That period of quality existence, with such a horrible disease, is outstanding! I’m keenly aware of the fact that the average life expectancy of people with Myeloma is still four years, after diagnosis. If the contrast of my length of survival, and the reality of what so many of my fellow Myeloma warriors face isn’t a faith-strengthening reality, I don’t know what else could be better.

I often hear honest, well-meaning comments from folks telling me that God will heal me. I usually smile and accept the encouragement as well-meaning. I think it’s a sign of true love and compassion that people will offer such encouraging words, usually followed by assurances of prayer for my healing. I certainly believe in the healing power of God. However, whenever I hear such comments, I’m faced with unquestionable realities: Myeloma is a terminal disease; there’s no cure, no matter how long a person might survive with it; the majority of the people who’ve been diagnosed with it have died; Myeloma is not like the cancer that many tell me uncle John had, that the doctor cut out thirty years ago, leaving uncle John to be ninety years old today; once diagnosed with Myeloma, the patient is attached to a healthcare team for the rest of their God-given life. These are just a few of the realities; realities through which God has blessed me to live a high quality of life no matter how stark they are. When people pray for my healing, my smile isn’t a belittling show of emotion. Oh no, not in the least bit. It’s personal confirmation that I’ve already been healed. Healing doesn’t always come in the form of physical restoration. Spiritual health is critical for vibrant faith.

I tend to think of my situation as living in a sin-cursed world; a place where bad stuff happens to people for no reason. Be it from me to say that I am without sin. There are things that God knows about me, and all of us, that we would prefer to remain hermetically sealed in some box. We all know it’s going to come out eventually, but we want to keep it locked up for as long as possible. Let’s just keep it between God and us. These character flaws are generally reason enough, if we’re honest with ourselves, for any sentence of bad health that might come our way. After all sin has consequences, does it not? But we also know that God’s grace is continually at work, shielding us from most of the bad stuff that should rightfully come our way.

Against this backdrop of sin and deserved judgment, I have come to recognize that the workings of God have been crucial throughout my life, especially over the last eighteen years. By world standards, I’ve beaten all odds. By world standards, I shouldn’t be here. The battle with Myeloma should be a short-lived one, infused with daily pain, anguish and formidable suffering. That hasn’t been the case for me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the last eighteen years have been a walk in the park. It hasn’t. I’ve had some nasty attacks on my weakened immune system, many have placed me flat on my back in the hospital. Heck, I’ve even had a few bouts with death; however, God fought the battles, leaving me to enjoy the spoils that came afterwards. These experiences have left me to be the benefactor of a stronger faith, a faith that has sustained me, and brought glory to God. Whenever someone excitedly proclaims how wonderful it is that I’ve lived so long with Myeloma, I give up glory to where it belongs.

Thank God for all His providence. There are no odds against Him.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.

I don’t take new years for granted

It’s a new year, 2018. The entry of a new year into our lives means much to some and little to others. I count myself in the former category. This year, God’s will, I’ll see my sixty-eighth year of life, not counting the nine months before being introduced to the world. You might say there are many who’ll be experiencing what I’m looking forward to, so what. If you’ve read anything I’ve written before, you’ll know that I’m living against odds that would have been stacked firmly against me twenty-five years or so ago. I’m living with Multiple Myeloma, and I’ve been doing so for eighteen years, come this March 12. I’ve seen many patients, who were diagnosed around the same time as I, die from this retched cancer, but God in His, boundless grace has seen fit to keep me here. I’ve had many tell me that there’s a reason I’m still here. I haven’t any argument against that proclamation; however, I’m not spiritually attuned enough to know the many reasons I’m still here. I simply thank God that I am.

I often find myself thinking about my children, my wife (Chris), my mother and all my other family members, and how blessed I’ve been to see them over the last seventeen years. My wife, bless her heart, has told me on more than one occasion that I’m probably to stubborn to simply lie down and allow Myeloma to take me out. (These are not her words, but I think the paraphrasing is reflective of her sentiment.) I certainly give credit to God for my still being here. Part of that credit is attributed to experiencing the love He’s shown by putting family and friends in my life. I’m confident that the prayers, probably in the high hundreds, if not thousands, that have been sent up from many, have been answered. How do I know that they’ve been answered? I’m still here.

For the last twenty years or so, I’ve experienced a hopeful feeling at Christmas time. I’m always grateful to see another Christmas, but I find myself praying that I’ll see the upcoming new year. There’s no reason that I can clearly express why I have this feeling; it’s just there in my head. Then, when I wake up on January 1, there’s a calmness about me, knowing I’ve made it to see another year. I make no resolutions for the new year. I’m just glad to see it.

This is going to be a particularly eventful new year. It will start off in February with my wife and I going to Monaco and Southern Spain. This trip is due to the generosity of my oldest child, Felicia. She called me a few months ago and wanted to know if we would be interested in taking the trip with her. You’re probably asking yourself at this point why she would have to ask me such a question, considering where the trip is planned. I think Felicia knows her dad well. I’m a home body for the most part. I have nothing against travel. I’m just not that motivated to do it. This, however, is something that I’m really looking forward to. I even plan to pack as if I were Rick Steve the travel show guy, strategically putting enough clothing and personal supplies for ten days in a carry-on and a day bag. I don’t want to be hampered with too much stuff and costly bag-checking fees. Chris is looking forward to it also.

Yes, I don’t take new years for granted. I’m going to see fewer of them, God’s will, then I’ve lived thus far. This one is starting off on a good note.

I’m old and blessed…hope you will be too.