There is a cliché that time flies when you get older. However, it is indeed true. It is hard to find new words to express universal experiences. We face a crisis, and it passes, and what we thought was of tremendous import fades with the next unforeseen incident. I pray that no matter what happens, I will never forget God’s gracious goodness to me.
I have lost count of the times God has graciously and overtly spared my life. My most recent encounter with cancer is one such event. Every time I recount the events to myself, I am reminded God has spared me so many times… but for what? (Don’t lose track of that thought; I’ll return to it shortly.)
The surgical procedure
As I shared back in March, I underwent a thoracotomy to remove my left upper lung lobe. Only 16 days passed from suspected diagnosis via CT, confirmation via PET CT, to surgery. The surgery itself is a miracle of knowledge and skill. If you have the time (and a strong stomach), do what I did and watch a video on HOW a thoracotomy is performed. It is truly amazing. However, my doctor, and other literature on the internet, advised I’d be going home 2-3 days after the surgery. I did not believe them, especially after my prolonged hospitalizations in November 2021 and 2022.
I didn’t believe them when I woke up after the procedure on the 16th and was skeptical on the morning of the 17th. However, by that evening, I was feeling – seriously – great! Since the following day was a Saturday, the doctor decided to keep me in the hospital until Sunday. A week later, I was back to work! Now, nearly two months after the surgery, I am amazed at how good I feel. I still have times of breathlessness and tire easily. My doctor keeps reminding me, “You did undergo major surgery, you may feel good, but it will take time for your body to adjust.”
The surgical results (Hallelujah!)
It took time for the full pathological results to come back. During the procedure, the doctors confirmed it was a 3 cm (~1.2 inches) tumor. They removed all my lung’s surrounding lymph nodes, tissue, and the entire left upper lobe. The pathology test confirmed no metastases and no lymph involvement. It was classified as T2A N0M0 Stage 1B, for those who know the terminology. Right now, there remains only one concern: the type of tumor it was. Apparently, although they got it all, a genetic component might encourage the cancer to return. They are currently running tests (10-15% of nonsmoking women with this cancer have the gene). If the test is positive, then I will be started on a biological treatment. If not, I go into standard follow-up with CT and exams every four months, and then regularly for a few years to be sure I remain clean.
Over and over, I am in awe of what was stressed over and over again by my surgeon, the nurses, and even the literature: this type of cancer is seldom caught early. As a non-smoker I was not in a high-risk group and flagged for regular screening. I had no symptoms. If one of the doctors had not looked at my chest X-ray and thought, I don’t know, it looks like there might be a tiny shadow there, no one would have looked further, and I would be enjoying my everyday life – with death slowly growing inside of me.
God has clearly spared me.
Spared for what?
I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks now. Why did God spare me and not others? I’ll be honest. I don’t know. But here is what I do know:
15 This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate His extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.1 Timothy 1:15-16
No. I can’t compare myself to Paul… nor can you. But here is the thing, when we look at Jesus and compare ourselves to Him, well, there you are. We are all the worst – I am the worst! And God has spared me, saved me, for the same reason He saved Paul. So that others could see God’s amazing work in us. Other believers are encouraged, and unbelievers are drawn to Jesus.
It really is as simple as that – the simple good news of Jesus.
Where would we be without ALL of who God IS?
For some of us, focusing only on God’s holiness, righteousness, hatred of sin, justice, and wrath is too easy. For others, thinking only about God’s love, grace, and mercy is easier. But the sons of Korah knew differently. (Aside, if you don’t know their story, check it out.) They wrote:
10 Faithful love and truth will join together;Psalm 85:10-11
righteousness and peace will embrace.
11 Truth will spring up from the earth,
and righteousness will look down from heaven.
When faithful love and truth joined together on earth, we beheld Jesus, God’s response to our rebellion and sin. When Jesus died on the cross, righteousness and peace embraced, and those who received Him, have received righteousness from heaven.
It really is that simple, I have been spared, and you have been too, if you are alive to read this post, so that we can reflect His mercy, His love, and yes, His awesome but no longer fearful holiness, righteousness, and justice.
Why have I been spared? I realize, quite simply, to go deeper in being faithful to Him. To be more grateful for all He has done in my life. To take my life more seriously and be more proactive in how I can reflect His love, mercy, and grace. And you? Are you wondering why you are still alive? I don’t know what your hurt, struggle, or disappointment is, but I hope I can encourage you.
Just seek to be faithful today. In the end, today is all we have. And God has promised to be with us always, through every today of the rest of our lives.
Thank you for my sisters and brothers reading this post right now. I ask that you will bless and encourage them. I ask that you wrap them in Your love and remind them that you really do care about their situation. You really are in control. You really do know what You are doing.
It’s hard, Lord when we see so much disparity in the world around us. Father, we don’t understand why you heal one person and not another. But You didn’t ask us to understand You. You asked us to trust You.
Help us to keep our eyes on Jesus, to walk the waves, and not fear them, knowing that You are with us and we will not drown. Thank You that faithful love and truth have been joined together, that righteousness and peace have embraced, and we are safe and loved – in You.