One of my most fervent prayers through all of this brain cancer madness has been pretty simple. “Let me be singing, Lord. No matter what comes, just let me be singing.”
This is probably odd to most people, especially if you didn’t grow up with a never ending flow of humming and tapping and rhythm around you, as I did.
When I was a teenager getting ready to leave the house to attend college, my momma told me one day as she passed by me standing in their bathroom getting ready to go somewhere, “I’m going to miss your singing.” I think that simple moment stuck with me because it was the first time I was made aware that the music wasn’t just in my head. I am always humming. No matter the situation. It’s just sort of there, unbeckoned.
On Jesse’s first surgery day, I sang the refrain to Tomlin’s “Joy to the World” on repeat all day long. “Joy, unspeakable joy, it rises in my soul, never lets me go.” The songs I find myself singing never really match the somber or tense mood of the situation I’m in, eliciting quizzical looks from the people around me. I’m not usually even aware that I’m singing until I catch a weird look from someone…or someone tells me later.
So as I was sitting in my bedroom waiting on the phone call to discuss the results of Jesse’s scans last week, I noticed I was humming. That day, it was this:
“For this cause I live
For this cause I’d die
I surrender all
For the cause of Christ
All I once held dear
I will leave behind
For my joy is this
Oh the cause of Christ”
When the call came, and the results were iffy, my soul lingered on the second verse:
“He is all my soul will prize
Regardless of the joy or trial
When agonizing questions rise
In Jesus all my hope abides”
We have some agonizing questions today. Jesse’s tumor looks better in some places. But he has two new spots on his left side…and one new one on his right.
No matter how much I prepare myself for news that his tumor is doing exactly what these tumors do, it is never quite expected when it comes. And the music shuts off in my head for a minute or two as the words “It’s spread to the right side of his brain…probably via cerebral spinal fluid…watch him for back pain…maybe surgery…maybe aggressive chemo…radiation won’t help…more tests…more unknowns…”
All I could hear in my mind were the words, “We’re going to have to say goodbye. My God, I’m going to have to tell our kids they’ll grow up fatherless.”
Agonizing is the word for it. Agonizing. ”When agonizing questions rise, In Jesus ALL my hope abides.”
No matter what, no matter how grueling, how painful, how devastating to my human form…in Jesus, in Christ alone, my hope abides. Not in cancer cures. Not in earthly miracles. Not in my kids having a daddy to love and shepherd them and be loved by them. In Christ. In Him. In His purity and perfection that sacrificed Himself in mankind’s filth so that Jesse can live healed while trapped in the confines of his sick shell; and I can live healed from the pain and loss of watching him suffer; and our kids can live healed from the many memories they will not likely have of their daddy and the many frightening memories they have endured already.
God can still heal Jesse here. We still ask Him every day to grant us more time as a family, to heal Jesse radically and splendidly so that all the world will see His power and believe in Him. But more than that-more than we ask for temporary healing-we ask Him to use our broken lives to speak the lasting healing that Jesus grants over the broken lives He places in our paths. We ask Him to help us live remembering that healing came when we were purified through Jesus, and nothing can take that away. Nothing. We can live healed, because we are. We are. We are only waiting to be free from the temporary, broken bodies we exist in, now.
This is from Jesse’s sermon this morning. He has a fourth brain surgery on April 10. If you are struggling to understand the “Why?” and “What If” And “How” aspects of your life right now, if you are confused about who God is and whether or not there is hope for you, if you are weary-just tired of fighting to keep moving forward, and even if your life is moving seamlessly forward and your cup is overflowing with happy…then I urge you to watch and listen. Watch this man with brain cancer tell you about hope.
Happy Easter, friends! You are so loved!