Monday, August 26, 2013

Richard Has Cancer, but Christ Has Richard

This is our friend, Richard. More than anyone I can currently bring to mind, he lives like Psalm 31:15a ("My times are in your hand") is absolute truth. Richard has stage 4 inoperable brain cancer. A couple weeks ago, he got really bad news. His most recent MRI indicated growth in his tumor, apparently enough to cause his doctors to determine that none of his treatments are working and therefore to discontinue any further treatment. From a medical/scientific standpoint, he is out of options. His doctors have given him "a few months."

This is heartbreaking news. 

Richard has a beautiful family. A wife and 2 young children. From my earthly perspective, all I can think about is that his family needs him. His wife needs her husband. His kids need their Dad. For these reasons and so many others, I don't want him to die. No one who knows him wants that. We want to fellowship with him for years to come. We want to help him raise his children and delight in knowing he and his wife will celebrate many more anniversaries. Our church (and many others who know him) are begging God daily for a miracle. We have anointed him with oil. We have laid hands on him. We have prayed from our very guts (and continue to). We want to keep him.

More than that, though, we want God's will. Certainly we can hope that will include miraculous healing and pray for it ceaselessly, but in the midst of our pleadings, we must trust that God is sovereign and know that whatever he chooses to do with Richard's life is part of his perfect plan. Easier said than done, for sure.

But here's the thing: Of all the people involved in the life of this man and the difficult journey he's facing, he and his wife--the very ones who are suffering most acutely--are also the greatest reminders of the joy that can be found in Christ no matter the circumstances. They are one of the most radiant pictures of hope I've ever known personally, because their hope doesn't lie in what MRIs or doctors say. Their hope is fully bound up in Christ. Both of them would certainly admit they aren't looking forward to what they've been told to expect in the next few months, but they would just as quickly (and much more passionately) insist that they definitely ARE looking forward to the fact that regardless of what amount of time Richard remains here on earth, God has given him eternity with Christ. This is cause for celebration! 

Not only do Richard and Erin consistently testify to the fact that God is sovereign over their situation, even in their suffering, they know that He is also GOOD. When we are well, God is good. When we are sick, God is good. When we are happy, God is good. When we are sad, God is still good. 

As Erin says concerning Richard's final day on earth, "That will be the best day of his life!" Surely she is right, and yet, what miraculous strength it takes to truly *feel* this truth in the midst of her suffering.

Won't you join me in continuing to pray for this family? Pray for healing. Pray for strength. Pray that they will feel the presence of Christ in every moment of this journey, no matter what happens when.

What a gift to know and love this family. For as long as Richard lives on this earth, I will not stop praying for him, but I am so incredibly grateful for his and Erin's eternal security (and eternal life) in Christ!

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