I recently received a text from my wife Michelle that made my heart sink. “Dr. Solum called. I have small lymphocytic lymphoma.” A few days earlier she had a biopsy of an enlarged lymph node. She was otherwise feeling fine. It was most likely a reactive node from a minor infection. But it wasn’t. My wife, the person with whom I was supposed to grow old and raise our children, had cancer. I wept.
For the last several months, Michelle and I have been praying together before bed. That night, I asked her how we should pray for this. She didn’t ask to be cured. She said that no matter what happens, she wanted to give God glory through this journey. (Did I ever mention that I don’t deserve my wife?) A few short hours after receiving her diagnosis, she was already looking through the eyes of eternity.
Everyone knows our time on earth will eventually end. Handling day to day trials is one thing; processing and responding to a trial that could have life or death implications is different. How should we respond to this real life convergence of Faith, Leadership, and Life in the context of eternity?
James 1:2-4 tells us to consider our trials “pure joy”. Why? Because the testing of our faith produces perseverance and that makes us mature and complete. God wants to mature us. (See The Importance of Struggles, Part 1) When things are going great, we more easily forget about God. When we are in a big trial, our communication with God through prayer increases dramatically. Our trials can be used by God to draw others into a deeper relationship with Him. It happened when Michelle’s sister-in-law was battling cancer, and it started happening right away when people started hearing about and praying for Michelle.
Our time on earth is a blink of an eye compared with eternity. Whether we live 45 years or 85 years is less important than the eternal impact we have with those around us. We bring glory to God by loving others and influencing them to consider a relationship with Him. Every day matters and challenges will happen. However, our trials are minor when you look through the eyes of eternity. In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, Paul says, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.” (See The Importance of Struggles, Part 2)
After a few more blood tests and an appointment with her Hematologist, we learned that her cancer is the type that can “smolder” for years until chemotherapy is needed. However, since she was so young at diagnosis, there is a higher risk of future issues. We left the clinic that day with the best case scenario: an appointment with more blood tests in three months. We appreciate your prayers.