Jack came out his front door, then gingerly down the front steps to greet me. He’s been hobbled—and worse—for the past three years. It started when he collapsed from a blood clot at a convention in Vegas. Multiple surgeries and rehabs later, he went in last week to see about a constriction in his throat. It’s been one thing or another since his body started falling apart.
As he approaches, I ask, “How are things?”
“Not too good.”
“Remember I said that the doc figured on doing a bypass in my esophagus? Well, they found something else—a tumor …”
By this time, I can barely concentrate. I only hear scattered words, “…results yesterday … malignant … yeah, almost two inches long …”
Jack’s several years older than me but he’s tougher than a boot. He talked about likely treatment procedures—radiation to shrink the tumor, followed by chemo. Not a pleasant prospect. He said, “It’s going to be a long haul.”
I was pretty stoic when I said that we better pray. I laid my hand on his shoulder and tried to pray, but I choked up. Jack and I have been neighbors and friends for over thirty years. I don’t have TV but they make sure I hear when there’s a big game on their flatscreen. Barb makes fantastic soup, out-of-this-world pecan pie, and we talk about our lives and our kids. I drop off firewood now and then; his fireplace will accommodate the gnarly chunks of oak or fir that are too tough for me to split.
I finally got my prayer going—Father, we ask for accurate diagnosis and effective procedures from the medical team. You know all about this, so we ask you to cover him and all his family with your love and mercy. Lord Jesus, we know that you’re the Great Physician, so bring healing to my buddy Jack–in your way and in your time, Father, because without you, we are nothing …
Praying was difficult partly because my dad died 61 years ago from a very similar type of cancer. It was also hard to utter the words because I really care for Jack and Barb.
*** Three weeks ago, another dear friend died of liver cancer. I couldn’t go to his memorial service ‘cause I had just gotten out of the hospital with kidney stones. Rick meant a lot to me but I didn’t even get to say good-bye.
The twenty-two year old son of our friends in Portland suffers from schizophrenia. He hasn’t talked about killing himself recently but now, he’s hearing voices again. They don’t know if they can leave him alone for any length of time.
A very close friend called to vent his distress because his brother-in-law just learned that his wife has been unfaithful. The affair has been going on for two years. I know all the parties but that doesn’t make it any easier. I asked if anyone in their church had tried to intervene, to perhaps save the marriages or at least to encourage and help the cuckolded husband through this trial of betrayal. He didn’t think so, and he didn’t know what he could do to help.
Four couples in our little church dissolved their marriages within the past five months. Some, because of infidelity, and one, “because I just don’t love her anymore.” How do you deal with that kind of shallowness? We in our church leadership team look at one another and ask, “Could we have helped them through their crises, for the sake of the children, at least?”
Likely, many of you have recently gone through similar circumstances. Perhaps you’re facing a tremendous health, financial, or relationship challenge right now. The world seems like it’s falling apart for you and those you love. Where do you turn? What do you do; what do you say?
I know from personal experience that God cares. He cares for you and the daughter or son you haven’t seen or heard from in years. Not only that, our God is a powerful and loving God. If bad things happen to good people, it’s likely that worse things will happen to bad people. Those bad things come into our lives because the world was infected with sin when Adam sinned. But we don’t have to endure the pain and heartache alone. Jesus came so we could see what God is like, so we could have a relationship with him.
There’s a lot of beauty and joy in this world. But when the hard times come, as they eventually will, know that Jesus is right there; ready to carry you through each storm and betrayal. Let me know if you would like me to pray for you.
“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have the life.” I John 5:9