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Update: October 17, 2015

Posted on: October 17th, 2015 by Christy Jansma

Dear Church Family,

Today was our post-chemo appointment with the oncologist. Thank you for praying for Connie and me. The report from Tuesday’s CT-scan was “a mixed pattern again”. The primary tumour on her lung shows some shrinkage. Otherwise some lesions (abnormal tissue / organ) show signs of worsening and others of improvement. It would have been wonderful to hear that all evidence of cancer has disappeared. That would be a miracle. Some of you are holding out for that and we appreciate it. I’ve been thinking a lot about divine healing and may offer my thoughts about it in a future update.

James Montgomery Boice (1938-2000) was pastor of Tenth Avenue Presbyterian Church (Philadelphia) for thirty years when he was diagnosed with liver cancer. His final message to the congregation, delivered a month before his passing is profound:

If I were to reflect on what goes on theologically here, there are two things I would stress. One is the sovereignty of God. That’s not novel. We have talked about the sovereignty of God here forever. God is in charge. When things like this come into  our lives, they are not accidental. It’s not as if God somehow forgot what was going on, and something bad slipped by. It’s not the answer that Harold Kushner gave in his book, ‘Why Bad Things Happen to Good People’. God does everything according to his will. We’ve always said that.

But what I’ve been impressed with mostly is something in addition to that. It’s possible, isn’t it, to conceive of God as sovereign and yet indifferent? God’s in charge, but he doesn’t care. But it’s not that. God is not only the one who is in charge;  God is also good. Everything he does is good. And what Romans 12:1-2 says is that we have the opportunity by the renewal of our minds – that is, how we think about these things – actually to prove what God’s will is. And then it says, ‘His good, pleasing, and perfect will’. Is that good, pleasing, and perfect to God? Yes, of course, but the point of it is that it’s good, pleasing, and perfect to us. If God does something in your life, would you change it? If you’d change it, you’d make it worse. It wouldn’t be as good. So that’s the way we want to accept it and move forward, and who knows what God will do?

Connie and I continue to trust in God’s absolute sovereignty and in his perfect goodness, including times when we don’t understand.

We’ve been on this journey now for six months. It was the middle of April that I took Connie to the ER with a blood clot in her leg which we assumed was complications from a back injury. It’s been a long, slow six months. In these months our lives were turned upside down and we continue on a roller coaster of emotions (like Blue Jay fans). I wish I knew how many times we’ve been to the hospital for various appointments. It’s become so routine: I drive to the entry; stop the CRV at the loading zone; get the walker from the rear; bring it to Connie; park the vehicle; meet her at the appointment. But what is not routine is the multiple heartbreaking situations I see at the loading zone – young and old. I don’t know their stories and am left to guess. There is a lot of suffering in the world, and in Lethbridge. Interspersed with those tragedies I have the vicarious joy of watching a young father drive up to take his wife and their infant on his/her first trip home. They remind me of those five exhilarating occasions for us, which remain fresh in my memory.

This year’s Thanksgiving festivity was rich. All five of our kids, along with their spouses and their kids, joined us for the weekend. We enjoyed lots of laughter, and shed a few tears, as we now treasure every occasion together. There were 24 of us around the dinner table, prepared by our kids. It was rewarding to see Connie’s commitment to hospitality carried on by the next generation. When she and I review the weekend we are overjoyed by the cooperation and good will among our children. They genuinely enjoy being together, without tensions. The years invested in summer Cousin Camp result in the grandkids anticipating every family gathering. And now we dream of the next occasion at Christmas. Please pray that Connie will be strong enough to fully enjoy that gathering.

Believing that God is sovereign and good,

Ian (on behalf of Connie)

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