Saturday, January 7, 2012

Learning from Dad

This week my Dad learned that a spot on his pancreas, originally identified as a cyst, was actually a malignant tumor.  He also learned that some other spots on other organs, initially thought to be of little concern, would now be biopsied as well.  He also learned that the tumor on the pancreas was wrapped around 2 veins, and inoperable and that he would need to begin radiation in hopes of killing the cancer, shrinking the tumor and/or keeping it from growing and spreading its nasty little germs.  Sounds like a pretty crappy week, right?!

So I wait hours before I call him and finally think I've composed myself enough to have a conversation in which I am going to comfort him, tell him how much I love him and how much I'm praying for him and trust that God will heal him.  The phone rings, once, twice, a couple more times, and his voice mail picks up. I felt a little better because I was sure I could get out a sentence or two on his voice mail.  Ahhh, nope, not possible.  So then I had to call my Mom and tell her to tell Dad not to listen to the message because I'm not the composed comforter I had hoped to be and instead am his blubbering daughter.

So the next morning on my way to work I feel ready to call. This time Dad answers, and the minute he answers with his cheerful voice, I ask, in my shaky voice filled with tears, how he is.  He answers by telling me that he is fine, he really is fine, even if my sisters and I don't believe him.  He then tells me that God has a plan for everyone, we don't know the plan and don't always understand it, but God has a plan and a purpose for everyone.  I tell him that I don't want God to take him away from me.  And he honestly answers that he isn't ready for that either but that we all have a time to go and that God is in control of our lives and the plan for our lives.  

He then tells me about a conversation he had with his pastor friend who gave him a sermon to read about how not to waste your cancer.  This is what my Dad wrote on his Facebook wall about the sermon.
My pastor shared the following link from John Piper - - which got me thinking - when one person has cancer how should family and friends react? My thought is that cancer is like art - each person impacted by it needs to discover how that cancer will impact him/her. The person with cancer must deal with mortalit...y issues and how to live with the cancer; Family members need to ask the Big questions of life, Why? Can cancer be a gift from God? Is God trying to reach me? Since cancer adds new elements into our relationships, how should friends react to their friend's cancer. Each answer will be different with each person, just like appreciating art is different for each individual.
My Dad is the godliest man I know. His faith and his relationship with God leave me wanting more, and make me feel ashamed for questioning how God could allow something like cancer to affect my Dad.  My Dad has devoted his whole life to working for God and to reaching people for God so that they too may have the special personal relationship that he enjoys with his Saviour.  Why would God want to take one of his greatest workers from the earth? And when that time comes, who am I to want to hold onto my Dad's ankle as God calls him home to Heaven?

I am trying to be positive, trying to have the peace and faith that my Dad has, and praying constantly for healing.  The practical, worldly side of me knows what cancer means and what cancer does, and I hate not being able to reach into my Dad's body and pull out every bit of the poison that cancer is.  I want to fix it, control it and make it all better for him and my family.  

I will try to learn from my Dad, to listen to him, to learn from his example and to trust that God does indeed have a plan for each one of us, and a purpose for our lives which we may not always understand or see.  Who are we to question God's plan for our lives and for the lives of those we love?  In the meantime, while I'm learning, I will pray for my Dad, pray for his healing, pray for his courage and his strength.  I will pray for the doctors, that they will know what they're doing and that they will do it well as we entrust them with our Dad.  I will pray for my Mom and my siblings and our children that we can offer support and encouragement to my Dad and to each other.  And I will thank God for this wonderful man that is my Dad, for the man he has been, for the man he is and for the man he will be.  His example, his faith, and his peace are to be admired and followed.  As my children have said on more than one occasion, "Grandpa works for God, and Grandpa is best friends with God." Who better to have in your corner than God?  Who better to have as a BFF than God?

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
Romans 5:1-5


  1. Oh, Beth, I am so sorry that all of you are experiencing this! But your Dad is so right in saying that even this is a chance to learn and grow. There can be so many blessings hidden in the situation, as you already know.
    When my Dad was told that his cancer was terminal, he said, "Death comes for everybody. It's just part of life. We'll all have to go, its just that my turn is coming up."
    Wishing you strength, courage and a lot of chance to laugh together with you Dad. Offering you a shoulder, a meal, a hug....

  2. Karen, I knew you would have something comforting to say. I also know that you know this feeling all too well. Thanks for offering your shoulder, hugs and cooking - I know they are all as good as it gets. Love to you as well.

  3. My dear Beth, my prayers are with you all. Your dad is right, this can be a time to reflect and learn. When I read the news of your dad's cancer, I couldn't help but think back when I first began going to a bible teaching church. We met at Southbridge High School, and then finally a building on Dennison Drive. I want to share that because of your dad, I learned about the love of God and the true meaning of why Jesus came to us. I got saved because of your father's teaching and love, and I will forever be grateful to God for allowing him into my life. You never forget the one who introduces you to the Lord, and I will keep your dad and mom, and all the rest of you in prayer. God's plan is always a perfect one, even though we may not understand it. I do know, however, that this last couple of days have given me a moment to go back and reflect on that wonderful, awesome feeling you have when you first realize how much God loves you through his Son. You want to fall in love with Jesus all over again. Your father was a blessing to me, and I know will continue to be a blessing to everyone who has ever known him. My love to you all.

  4. Ann, thank you so much for what you wrote. I know that, through God, he has reached so many people, and I am so grateful that you shared your story and my Dad's part in it. He has a wonderful attitude and a tremendous faith, and I'm slowly but surely, through scripture and prayer, getting there. Love you too!