I even remember the day. We’d been to an adoption conference that day. We were toying with the idea. And that night we had Scottish friends of ours who were having a 40th birthday. It was a Highland Fling so there was lots of dancing and there was a big party. We had such a great time. We came home and we were just about to get into bed when she came to me and said “I’ve got a lump in my breast.”
At that stage all of your textbook answers and your seminary assignments count for nothing.
Tuesday. By Tuesday we had the diagnosis and it was… I think the technical language is ‘Carcinoma in Situ’ which is just basically breast cancer. So your mind immediately runs to the worst place. I remember sitting in the car, we’d just got the diagnosis, and Joan my wife saying to me “you know, I think I think I’m being punished.” At that stage all of your textbook answers and your seminary assignments count for nothing. You muddle through. You try and reassure your wife of God’s love for her. But your words are hopeless! We had the surgery. She had to have a double mastectomy and she had to have radiation therapy. She didn’t have to have chemo therapy, which was a mercy.
A Supernatural Sense of Peace
But you know, in all of that I had a sense of peace somehow. That’s a gift from God. Because you shouldn’t have peace at that stage. She had a sense of peace! Even though the initial shock knocked her off-balance, I think she was quickly reminded of God’s character and his love and his goodness. I honestly, and I’m not saying this because here’s the pastor’s answer, but I never, ever, felt this is not fair. Why me? I felt enormously knocked off-balance, ill equipped to cope. Inadequate for the task of trying to lead this family through this crisis. All of those things I’ve felt, but never did I feel that.
I had a sense of peace somehow. That’s a gift from God. Because you shouldn’t have peace at that stage.
It’s his mercy I think – it’s testimony to the closeness to his presence at that time. He was so close. I knew his character and I knew his plans and his purposes and I knew that, you know, that something good was going to come from this. Even if I didn’t understand exactly what it was. I knew that it was not a reason to doubt him or to doubt his goodness. So that’s not because I’m amazing or I’ve read my Bible so well for so many years or anything like that. It’s just his faithfulness in being present.
God’s Mercy on Me and My Family
He didn’t take her home at that stage which would have been… which was a great mercy, obviously, but for reasons perhaps we don’t understand, which I know now are in his own wisdom. In the sense that I wasn’t nearly ready to deal with that sort thing. I don’t know if you’re ever ready! But just character-wise – too immature in the faith. Too self-centred. I would have been, I wouldn’t have made a good stand-in single dad to our three kids. I wouldn’t have coped. And that of course is a great mercy to them and to us as a family.
nowhere has he promised that we’ll be perfectly healthy all our lives – but it’s just a testimony to his goodness and his kindness.
So, in so many ways he’s been good to us. That faithfulness to the promise that “I’ll never tempt you beyond what you can bear”. And of course it’s his goodness. It’s his goodness we see in healing her. She’s been healthy since the treatment – and I hesitate to call that faithfulness because nowhere has he promised that we’ll be perfectly healthy all our lives – but it’s just a testimony to his goodness and his kindness. To those who don’t deserve it.