Yesterday hammered me and I feel selfish for being upset about the death of someone I don’t know when their family and friends are mourning such a great loss, but I feel it. When cancer steals yet another heartbeat, I ache. I ache deep.
Cancer is a wound that has never healed in my heart. My brother lost a classmate when he was in fourth grade. I was six. I remember her face.
We name them.
We name them and they become real, no longer bound by the broad-spectrumed “c” word.
We name them and they keep coming.
Brick by brick. Name by name. Word by word which we cannot control.
Cancer brings out the faith in people. Why? Because we finally have to look beyond what we can do and begin trusting in an unforeseen force that hasn’t forgotten us, whose plan (we hope) is for us to prosper (even if that falls far short of our expectations). When they’re sitting in a chemo treatment or barely breathing for the next MRI, their first thought probably isn’t, “well I hope this medicine works,” because Cancer is big enough that you know medicine has no control. It’s chipping away at the walls of a mine, hoping to find a little piece of heaven or your way out.
You just don’t know.
It’s not often that we just don’t know. We’re great at making excuses, forming opinions, and giving out advice we’ve no authority to if only to seem wise, smart, and in control. That’s just it: we want to seem in control, even if we’re not.
Cancer brings you quick to a place of impotence: having no power. Helpless. When you were a child, helpless, you looked up.
We look up.
Even in the moments we’re suffering, skint-kneed from falling off our bike or sick on our knees from the chemicals trying to make it all right, God hustles. He hustles to bring eyes and hearts close to see us, to see Him through us when our control is down and we’re powerless to hide. He hustles to bring us comfort in the form of community and hope. He hustles to bring hearts near in need of sensitivity, hungering and thirsting for evidence that this might not be it. He hustles to make us a well springing up in the midst of inadequacy, helplessness, impotence. We bubble over. We infect others. Not with the Cancer wracking our bodies, but with The Hardest Peace.
Yes, when cancer stills yet another heartbeat, I ache.
The bittersweet in mourning our flesh lost in the face of God’s ultimate victory and the hearts touched even in our vaporous breaths is hard medicine to swallow.
We want sensitive hearts because sensitive hearts are open to how He moves, but a sensitive heart crumbles at the pain of loss, even if celebrations leave us soaring moments before.
Yet, in His sovereignty, our time is not wasted.