The other day, after a forty-five minute drive home from work, I faded into the couch and turned the TV to the only thing you can really watch at five o’clock in the afternoon, the news. I’ll be honest—don’t you love when people say that?—I kind of hate the news. I’m not a fan of bouncing between crappy weather predictions, sports highlights, and who got shot within the last half hour. It’s reality, but it’s depressing. I would rather slip into sitcom oblivion than come face-to-face with every day issues. But I found myself drawn to an interview with a woman whose youngest child is battling cancer, and losing.
Cancer is tragic. Having seen my mother endure the perils of lung and brain cancer (by God’s grace she fully recovered), I can totally sympathize with her pain. Even so, I don’t pretend to understand how she feels. She brought a child into the world with the joyful, yet heavy responsibility of providing for, protecting him. And now she finds herself helpless at the hand of a relentless disease, unable to shield him from the war to come. My heart broke for her, for her family. But while I was waxing all emo, she spoke up and said something absolutely remarkable in her context.
“I would not have chosen cancer for my family, but we’re different now.”
In the middle of a situation where no one would blame her for falling apart, screaming “Why us?”, and shaking her fist at the heavens, this woman whispered beauty. She didn’t want this. Life-threatening cancer was not in her family plan, but instead of being overtaken by bitterness, she saw a fleck of light glimmering in the darkness, a positive peeking through a stock pile of negatives. She uncovered perspective.
Cancer sucks. It was destroying her precious baby, but it was also bringing her family together. In a society of distractions, where dinners are eaten in front of the television and quality time is a cute notion of days gone by, this family was shattered and knelt in unison to pick up the pieces. Priorities changed. “Important” was redefined.
I don’t know that this family is Christian, but their experience taps into something deeply theological. Life is not simply a series of random events, high and low notes until the song ends. All of life points us to something larger, something greater than ourselves. I pray that this woman’s perspective pulls back a bit farther. I pray that she sees behind the temporal curtain. I prays she sees Christ, the gospel. I also pray that the rest of us take a look at her notes on perspective. Before we unravel at life’s sharp turns, or find our faith shaken in the midst of intense pain, I pray that we whisper, “I would not have chosen this for myself, but there is a God whose ways are above my own, who makes all things work together for my good, and who would rather see me into eternal joy than tease my life with fleeting happiness.”