Pain and Purpose?

My friend Bill is a great guy, we’ve worked together for the last five years.

He has some of the oddest (in a good way) comedic timing and dry wit.

He has a lovely wife and two young boys a little younger than my two boys.

He also has cancer.

I’ve been watching him deal with this and can only hope that I would have half the grace and strength he has modeled through the battle.

A few days ago, he shared a post that was both beautiful and tragic and I’m sharing it here in the hopes that you will pray for Bill and his family.

Today my doctor told me the CT scan showed little difference in the size of the tumor and they would likely be taking me off the Hyper CVAD chemotherapy treatment. This is the third treatment without success and frankly it is quite heartbreaking that more than 3 months into this we are starting over having exhausted some of the best first line alternatives. On Wed. I will be meeting with a radiation specialist and learning more about what radiation treatment is. 

A couple weeks ago I watched the movie Shadowlands again. This is the story of C.S. Lewis (author of Chronicles of Narnia and Mere Christianity among other things) and how he met his wife Joy. Early the movie he is in a church giving a message on why God allows pain. “God whispers to us in our pleasures, but shouts in our pain; it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” This seems consistent with Romans 8:20 which seems to say that God frustrates the creation so that the creation will call out to Him. Don’t we all (me included) seem to call out to God most in the middle of some crisis. In another sermon Lewis likens God to a sculptor and man to his clay. God is an artist, and with each painful chip of the sculptor’s hammer God is attempting to liberate his perfect sculpture from that which is hidden within rock (my paraphrase). This would seem to parallel James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” 

Lewis dedicated his life to writing books and teaching at Oxford and only later in life met Joy Davidson. Not long after they meet she develops cancer. They get married and she has a period of remission where they truly are able to enjoy each other and Lewis for the first time experiences real love, having been a bachelor into his 50′s. Then not too long after that she dies. There is a scene where Lewis is left weeping with and hugging his wife’s son Douglas. Lewis says at that point “I don’t have any answers anymore”.  

I bring this up because alot the scripture people seem to quote as encouragement assumes a successful a outcome. I’m afraid that if there isn’t a successful outcome then these people might have their faith devastated or go on quoting the same verses that don’t seem to work if somebody doesn’t survive (and we know that people don’t always survive). That seems to be the case with Romans 8:28 God causes all to work for good for those who believe him. Trials that develop perseverance only seem to be helpful if you survive. Chipping away at a sculpture is only good if the hammer doesn’t smash the whole thing to pieces. So I wept with the C.S. Lewis character because at some point there are no good answers and all you can do is hug and love those who are grieving. 

So here’s a good verse for those who want to provide comfort from Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. I think that means just love and support those that survive and don’t try to come up with good reasons why people die from cancer.

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