Walking through the many winding corridors of MD Anderson in the wee hours of the night, a stranger and I walked side by side, him guiding me to the correct elevator. We entered into an open space and chattering voices assaulted my ears. “Wow, this place never sleeps”, I said. He looked at me, deep grief and compassion swirling around in his eyes, and spoke with hope-tinged lament: “Cancer never sleeps.”
Just like that, my thoughts shifted, and I was back in the waiting room I had been in a few hours before, then in the neuro ward days before that, then the ICU before that, then the emergency room weeks ago with a stranger’s hands on my shoulders telling me my beloved has brain cancer. Cancer. Cancer. My husband has cancer. The never-sleeping sickness. It’s a great analogy of sin, isn’t it? It hides and camouflages and presents itself as something other than its reality. It masquerades as headaches and stress, but its really a tumor that’s been there all of your life, waiting for the right moment to reveal itself as it tries to overcome your being.
We’re so blind. I’m so blind. So blind to sin. We ignore it, call it by another name, pass it off as someone else’s problem, but we don’t usually label it as what it is. I mean, we know it exists. We know everyone has their own sin struggles, but we tend toward focusing on the prevalent things like greed, lust, murder, envy; and we ignore the subtle sins like coveting what our neighbor has or who our neighbor is rather than pressing into who God made us to be, feeling like we control a sovereign God with what we do and say, choosing fear of our humanity over trust in God. I wish I had the beautifully unmuddled outlook of my 6 year old nephew.
My sister was talking to her 3 boys about Jesse’s tumor, telling them about how sin entered the world and how we have brokenness and illness in our lives because of it, when 6 year old Beau spoke up, irritated with Adam and Eve:
“I just wishded they wouldn’t have sinned like that. I bet they wouldn’t do it again if they knew.”
“If they knew”…if they knew that the uncle he loves would get brain cancer because they rebelled, surely they wouldn’t have eaten of the fruit of the one tree in the entire garden they knew they weren’t supposed to eat, right? I’d like to believe that if I knew my selfish sin would cause mankind to exist in turmoil, that I would obey. I’d be wrong, of course. The truth is, none of us are good enough people, selfless enough people, to sacrifice every fiber of ourselves for the sake of preserving someone who exists in a future which doesn’t include us. Stings a bit, I know. It stings me, too. It’s hard to acknowledge the depths of our own depravity. It’s hard to acknowledge our desperate need to be rescued. But, Oh! How we do need the rescuing grace of Jesus. Even my husband.
He’s a good man. He truly is. One of the best I’ve ever known. But had Christ not chosen horrific death to reconcile my sinner-husband to Himself, then Jesse would be doomed to an eternity of despair just like the rest of us would be. Because He sins, I sin, you sin, we all need a Savior. The far-reaching grasp of sin and of cancer, neither caring about skin color or social status, geographic location or religious denomination, makes us all very much the same, very much in need of help. Because just like cancer, sin never sleeps. And because sin never sleeps, we have to be always doing something Jesse has said many times since we started this portion of our journey:
“We have to fight. . .We have to fight cancer. . . We have to fight sin. Sin is cancer, Ash. It’s cancer we fight with Jesus. We fight it with Hope.”
And so we are striving to do. Jesse is a living, breathing, walking, talking representation of a worst fear for so many here, and he is choosing daily to hope, not in temporary hope that we seek so ardently in this life, but in THE Hope. Jesus. He points everyone toward Him relentlessly, because he knows with all clarity that that Hope has already overcome cancer, because that Hope has already overcome sin.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14
Jesse is doing well. We’re in the process of being discharged. If everything goes well, we should be back at our hotel some time this evening. We plan on staying there for a few days as he continues to recover before heading home. We’re continuing to ask big things from our bigger God for you, dear people. We want so much for all of us to seek Him fervently.
Thanks for sharing your journey with us. You’re a great writer, and your and Jesse’s story is an inspiration to us as you live for God’s glory. FBC Flat, TX, is praying for y’all.
So thankful that Jesse is doing so well! Be blessed dear ones! Your cousins in Mobile, AL. Mike and Margaret Istre
You don’t know me but my stepdaughter sends out your updates regularly. I pray for you and Jesse. I love reading your blog. How does anyone get through life’s trials without our loving Father? Thank you for your testimony.
Beautiful blog! It’s right to the heart of the matter……the Gospel…..Jesus!!!! I’m saving this!
So glad he is improving. God is good!!!! And he has a Wonderful Nurse. Pray for your family.
Praying… glad you guys are about to return home. Thank you Father God for all you have done and are doing through this couple.
Ashley thanks for being so candid during this trying time. Robert and I are praying for all of you. It was this time last year that I was dealing with the diagnosis of having a brain tumor. As I read your blog it reminds me of what my family and I went through. Only God can really get you through some thing lIke this. Satan crept in often during the stillness before my surgery to try and convince me that only the worst scenarios were optional outcomes . Thankfully after 7 hours of surgery, my tumor was determined to be benign. We will continue to pray for Jesse, you and your family. God bless you.