My dad’s cancer happened to be the kind known for a high recurrence rate within the first year of surgery. Knowing this can make you jump at every little thing - a sore throat, a cough, or even just a headache. It’s because of this, that my dad needs to see a doctor for a checkup every month. Several months of checkups went by with good reports, but one month was not so lucky. The doctor detected a new spot on the voice box, a possibility that the cancer had returned. Why? Why does it seem that when you have finally knocked out your opponent, you find yourself back in the ring for yet another round?
The time arrived for another surgery – a biopsy, to determine the status of the new spot that was detected. My teeth were set on edge – waiting to hear the news. If it was in fact a new growth of cancer, it could lead us to more surgeries, radiation, or possibly chemo therapy, or a total loss of voice. None of which is something I wish for him to have to endure. But just as I began to envision a negative future, it was my dad who brought me back to reality – pointing his finger towards the sky as he so often does and saying, “It’s in the Lord’s hands – I’m trusting Him no matter what!” – a true statement of faith.
But I must tell you that this ordeal has still been a struggle for dad and our family. My dad’s greatest fear is that he would totally lose his voice. Through the years, he has been quite vocal about his faith - a Sunday School teacher, many mission’s trips, a volunteer at the local Nursing and Retirement Home, encouraging and witnessing to those around him. If he did not have a voice, how could he continue to share what God has laid upon his heart? How could he make a difference for the Kingdom of God without a voice?
Left with only a whisper from the previous surgery, dad counted himself pretty lucky and thankful to still be able to communicate, even if whispering posed many challenges. But in the midst of the uncertainty of new cancer and more treatments, my dad cried out to God not to take away what remained of his voice. He fervently prayed to allow him to serve the Lord vocally, even if with just a whisper. When the results were given, we were elated to find the area biopsied was not cancer, but most likely scar tissue left behind from the previous surgery. Praise the Lord! There was rejoicing all around and huge smiles beaming from my father’s face with yet another finger pointed to the sky as he gave God the glory. He had won round two, or had he?
During the long drive home, dad developed some complications which directed him to yet another hospital – this time an emergency room. Questions and doubts of God’s presence and mercy flooded his mind, “Why would you bring me through and then allow me to fall again?” Dad described God’s answer as almost an immediate audible response – “You asked me to spare your voice so you could witness didn’t you? Now do it!” Within the time spent in the ER, God gave the opportunity to tell three different nurses about God’s love and goodness!
We cannot dismiss any opportunity God places in our lives to speak truth and life into another. It may even happen through our misfortune. We should be continually asking the Lord for these chances – but as you stand at the wishing well, be careful what you wish for, because you just never know how those opportunities will present themselves.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:2-6