Update: September 10, 2015
Dear Church Family,
Today was Connie’s third chemotherapy treatment. We know the routine pretty well now, although it’s not a routine we’d wish for. Tuesday’s the day we meet with the oncologist and have blood work at the lab to determine readiness for another cycle of chemo. On Thursday we arrive at the Jack Ady Cancer Centre and Connie is ushered to the recliner chair where the intravenous drugs are administered. The staff are always kind and caring. The treatment lasts 90 minutes until the chemical cocktail is infused into her blood stream. She approaches these endless appointments bravely and with courage.
There are times when all this seem surreal. I often think back to what our life was like just a year ago. Both of us were charging full steam ahead, anticipating another season of meaningful ministry. With Women’s Ministry running well, Connie was beginning an added ministry of “volunteer coordinator” for the church. We had given Luke our blessing, and he was mustering the courage to ask Ruthie to marry him. I was beginning to think about Connie’s December birthday and wondered what I could do to surprise her in a creative and memorable way. (I never was particularly creative at those special celebrations) And I was starting to read and think ahead about a teaching series on suffering. That became the January series from 1 Peter: “Refined: Shaped by Suffering”.
Now I get to preach it to myself, or let Peter preach it to me. “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7,8) “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21) “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)
From cover to cover the Bible addresses the reality of human suffering in a broken world. You’ve heard me say that it’s not a question of “if” we face suffering, but a question of “when”. The time to prepare for suffering is before it arrives. I’ve also emphasized that sound theology leads to sound practice. Correct living is the outcome of correct thinking. Sometimes the experience of suffering allows us to discover a reservoir of correct thinking and sound theology beneath the surface. A recent text exchange with my daughter-in-law illustrates this. Kristen and Ben, who had a stillbirth in July, had just been to the doctor’s office:
Kristen: “Just left our appt. The autopsy results were not complete yet. From what has come in so far (genetic testing / chromosomes, placenta exam) everything is normal. She does not anticipate an ‘answer’ will be found. Once the autopsy results are in they will call us. We continue to believe Jaxton’s days were numbered before he was formed…. God already knew all of this and we continue to trust and seek Him in the midst of these hard days.”
Me: “Thanks Kristen. You are right altho we don’t understand or like it. Psalm 139 still stands. Elizabeth Elliot is credited with this: ‘If God were small enough to be understood He would not be big enough to be worshiped’.”
Me: “Doesn’t make it any easier. Emotions are raw and unpredictable. But underneath that our trust in Christ is our anchor. We pray that this terrible experience will draw you closer to Him. Not make you cynical or bitter. I can seem glimmers that that prayer is being answered.”
Kristen: “You’re very right… we don’t like Psalm 139 right now but we are clinging to that truth that Jaxton’s days were numbered and he lived each one of those days… just not the number we would have chosen!”
Kristen: “Our desire is to grow and deepen our faith through this… we will not allow it to do the opposite or it steals away any meaning from Jaxton’s life (in our opinion).”
• Thank you for praying for Ben and Kristen on their journey of loss.
• Thank you for praying for Ruthie as she learns to live with Multiple Sclerosis.
• Thank you for praying for my mother who is adjusting to St Therese Villa while she longs for her final home.
• Thank you for praying for Connie and me in these most challenging days of our lives, keeping our faith firm and our hope secure.
How is Connie doing? The current treatments are having the intended effect. The oncologist reduced the dosage to 60% following the first cycle with the hopes of squeezing more quality of life out of each precious day. With the lower dosage she has less fatigue, and no nausea or fever. Although it remains small, her appetite is better than it’s been in months. She is not gaining weight but the nourishment gives her better alertness. We are learning to embrace each day as a gift from God. After a memorable summer we look forward to Thanksgiving weekend when all our kids are planning to be in Lethbridge, Lord willing.
Continuing to believe that God is still in control,
Ian (on behalf of Connie)
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