Today I learned that the son of a dear friend has been diagnosed with stage IV adrenocortical carcinoma. This is a rare form of cancer with a poor record for survival, and I am having a visceral reaction to the news. A good portion of my angst is rooted in love and compassion, of course, but I'm also aware of a smaller yet powerful portion of personal fear. This wonderful young man grew up with my own children, and I am suddenly reminded that life offers us what it will, and none are immune to the repercussions.
I often find myself wishing these "reminders" would never come around, even though I understand their importance in the grand scheme of things. Each time they do present themselves (in my own family or in the families of others), I know with everything in me that faith is the best and most healing response. Calling upon the Lord and trusting that His plan is a better one than any we might devise is pretty much the only way to move through struggles and challenges with any degree of peace and even happiness. Thankfully, my friend's family is fully cognizant of this, and so is her courageous son. He is determined to do everything within his power to be cured, relying upon the Lord for the rest. His goal is to love his wife and continue to raise their five children to adulthood; and he will, God willing. But that's the rub, isn't it? God must be willing.
The simple truth is that having the faith to be healed also means having the faith not to be healed. And that's where the fear comes in. Experience has taught me that prayers for physical healing are not always answered in the affirmative. (Happily, it has also taught me that prayers for spiritual healing always are.) My prayer for my friend is that her son will be made whole, and I am joining my faith with hers. If that is God's plan, it will happen…and I am hoping against hope that it is. In fact, I intend to keep petitioning Him for that result until such time as His will is made known. I know He will listen to the pleadings of my heart and hers with a compassionate ear. I also know that whatever He brings to pass will be the right outcome. My friend knows that, too.
Knowing that doesn't necessarily keep the fear away. Submitting to the Lord in all things can be hard, especially when it comes to the survival of those we love. Fear will always come knocking…even for the most faithful...and that's okay. We can forgive ourselves for not being perfect and resolve once again to trust in the Lord with all our hearts and lean not unto our own understanding. God knows the end from the beginning; surely we can trust Him to get it right. As the apostle Paul said, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strenghteneth me" (Philippians 4:10-13). I know this to be true, even if I don't always enjoy the process.
The following is a poem I wrote years ago, while in the midst of a health crisis of my own. I thought I understood then that acceptance was a necessary component of faith without fear, but apparently I am one who needs frequent refresher courses. Perhaps I am not alone in that...