Kicked in the Face: Cancer, Part One

On Wednesday, cancer kicked me in the face.

Not literally, obviously. Cancer does not have legs. But suddenly and unexpectedly, it was everywhere I looked, sobering reminders of the reality that many folks live with daily.

Steve Jobs died, age 56. Cancer.

I saw the movie 50/50. A dark comedy about cancer.

A friend posted on Facebook about a pastor friend of his, recently diagnosed with cancer.

My friends and I joke about our smartphones and laptops and microwaving Tupperware. We say, “Everything’s going to give us cancer,” and carry on, doing what we are doing, denying the fact that it scares us, how it’s everywhere and affecting everyone and we don’t know what to do about it.

I mean, we can live our lives in fear, stay ridiculously fit, never microwave plastics, and still be sitting in front of a stoic doctor who takes a deep breath. Sometimes, people just get cancer.

It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or brilliant, a millionaire because of your innovative mind. It doesn’t matter if you changed the world of technology forever.

It doesn’t matter if you’re only 27, a runner who never smokes or drinks. It doesn’t matter if you have your whole life ahead of you.

And it doesn’t matter if you love God with all of your heart and serve Him with all of your life, in vocational ministry or otherwise.

Sometimes minuscule cells just divide and divide and divide again, never stopping, Attempt to take over all that is good and well within your body. Change your life quietly and then – once named – with a big noise.

It just happens.

In a split second, with the careful and horrible words of a doctor, you are labeled. You know for certain what you had only guessed, or maybe what you had only feared, or maybe even what you hadn’t thought possible.

Our bodies are born broken. Yes, they grow and mature and become stronger, but they are incredibly fragile, and like any living thing, they eventually die. That is how life works, whether you have a faith in something or you don’t.

It’s why I get so angry when I hear those “preachers” telling folks that if they just have more faith, if they just pray harder, they will be healed. That sickness is a sign of spiritual failing. That God would just fix it all if they asked hard enough.

I don’t know much, but I know that’s not true.

I do believe that God answers prayers cried out by those in need. I also believe that God is crazy as only the Ultimate Being can be – crazy by our own stupid standards, much like a dog begs for chocolate, not knowing it’ll kill him, or a baby is horrified by getting her shots, not knowing it may save her.

I believe cancer – and bad things in general – happen to lovely, decent, intelligent, wonderful people. Nothing will stop that from happening.

And yet…my faith gives me hope. Hope for beauty in this world, and hope for joy in the next and maybe for beauty in the next and joy in this one. I have to have hope.

You see, because babies with cancer die. But also, babies with cancer live.

To be continued…

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