Chris has begun her 6-weeks of radiation. The rest of this post has been partially written months ago, erased, discussed and then has become one of my thoughts with close friends about the importance of encouragement in the lives of cancer survivors. But once again I need to say.................
*DISCLAIMER - The following blog is based on some fictitious characterizations of advice & comments from visitors. Any resemblance to persons, whether living or dead is purely coincidental or you were truly obnoxious and I couldn't get your conversation out of my mind.
While in the middle of my fight with cancer I had many conversations and comments from well intentioned visitors. I am afraid that many of us need to learn how to be an encouragement during pain and suffering. Perspective is greatly needed by the person who is suffering but sometimes there are NO answers. Philip Yancey in "Where is God When It Hurts" writes, "A faith founded on the Great Physician should bring peace, not confusion, at a time of crisis."
These are some of my visitors & maybe you have met some of them also:
- "Harry Potter Healers" - The conversation would begin with their sincere prayers they have been interceding for me....... and then the magic wand is revealed. Healing comes through reciting the correct prayer and believing that you are healed. Oncologist, radiation, and chemotherapy are only complicating God's plan. If no healing, then not enough faith. But what about Paul? Beaten, shipwrecked, beaten more, imprisoned, a physical ailment, sickness..............I guess he didn't have the magic wand either.
- "Uncle Tony's Tumor Tellers" - Everyone has been touched by illness and cancer is everywhere. Please don't tell a story that does not encourage. I was in the middle of my battle, weak from chemo, and getting my scans. The nurse injecting me with a radioactive isotope said, "You have multiple myeloma. That is pretty rare. My father had that and he wasn't supposed to make it six months and he lived for almost two years." Don't be that guy! I wanted to hear from those survivors who have ridden the lightning (radiation) and tasted the poison (chemotherapy). Paul says it in this way in I Corinthians 1: 3-4, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble."
- "Power Point Pals" - These are the visitors who not only had a systematic lesson, they had complete insight into what God is wanting to teach me. The lessons are based on the premise that things DO NOT just happen. Stick with them through their lessons and use self examination to find the "bullet" that is your life.
- "Happy, Happy, Joy-Joys" - They come bringing flowers, pictures, and enter the room humming. They clap their hands and talk about stones a-singing and brooks a-babbling. The more you hurt, the louder they are with their happiness. The only thing missing are pew pom-poms.
- "Logic Lovers" - All statements made are in conditional statement form with a hypothesis (if) and a conclusion (then.) If you have sin, then.............. If you have a bad diet then.................... If you have faith, then................ I want you to know that it sometimes doesn't make sense. Chris could always tell when I had been beside a child getting chemo. Cancer in children DOES NOT MAKE SENSE.
- "Funeral Home Friends" - They haven't laughed since 1992 and they know that God loves a serious Christian. They whisper around you and speak in acronyms. It's not cancer, it's the C-word. If you crack a joke, then you must not understand the gravity of your condition. I promise, if you have cancer, you KNOW how serious it is!!
I have seen encouragers modeled for me and I have learned much from them. My family has been the best, but here are a few non-family members who have exemplified the skilled art of encouraging:
- Jeff Clark - my dear friend, always ready to help & man enough to cry with me.
- Fran Dobbs - our neighbor who knows that some hot soup fixes anything.
- Ruth Ann Jones, my sister Sharon, & Aunt Va - the Hallmark award, write it on a card so they can read it often.
- Jason Davis - a new friend that encourages with few words, "Be strong."
- Don & Betty Boone - sat downstairs during a surgery for 5 hours & said that guests only complicate things but wanted to be there in case they were needed.
- Lance Shelton & Kathy Clark - they love me like a brother & make me LAUGH!!
- Rex Jackson - faithful friend, always knows what is needed.
"Rejoice with those who are rejoicing, and weep with those who are weeping." Romans 12:15. Enough said.