Friday, February 07, 2014

“This light, momentary affliction…” Seriously??

Today, my brother Jim begins a new phase of the battle with mesothelioma.
Easily the ugliest Christmas sweater ever. 
 Last May’s phase 1 involved a 14-hour surgery/internal chemo combo up in Pittsburgh.  A considerable portion of his guts was removed then.  And it was successful.

But with mesothelioma—as with metatastic melanoma—“successful” will not be final in this life.  Meso patients always live under a shadow.

So, in recent followup scans, some lymph nodes were somewhat enlarged.  No lighting up as cancerous on the P.E.T. scan, which is good.  However, because it’s mesothelioma, Jim’s medical team is being aggressive.  And so, as I was writing this earlier today, he’s in Nashville having his first chemo infusion.  This is an experimental protocol that involves a biologically-targeted chemo regimen.  Therefore, rather than just wiping out his entire system & hoping that the chemo destroys the cancer before destroying him, this one is somewhat less bad to endure.

Context is crucial as you read that last sentence; my own focus is on the phrase “somewhat less bad.”  Chemo is still chemo, and brings unpleasant side effects.  The good news is that the side effects from this regimen are much less than from how more general chemo affects the patient.  The bad news is, he’ll be heading up to Nashville every Thursday for his Friday infusion.  Every single week.

How long is the regimen?  (Let this answer motivate you to pray for Jim & his fam if you’re not already doing so.)  The experimental period is for two years; they’ve told Jim that he can count on six months.

Every.  Single.  Friday.  Six Months.  Or maybe longer.

As usual, his attitude is great.  He says this is a good problem to have, which it is.  But a good problem to have is still a problem.

Light & Momentary?  Doesn’t seem like it when one is in the fire.  But the hope in Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 4 is at least twofold.

“…is preparing for us…”

First, consider the word preparing.  Elsewhere in Ephesians 2:10, Paul describes us Christians as God’s “workmanship” (Greek: poema.)  Consider your own workmanship: your job, parenting your kids, growing your faith,…None of those happen automatically nor quickly, does they?  The hope is found in the One Whose workmanship we are; the One Who is doing the preparing.

“…an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…”

Second, consider the words eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.  Eternity is a very long time, isn’t it?  As the late, great musician Keith Green said, “Life is short, eternity is long.”  When we look back from the perspective of eternity, the trials of this life will truly seem “light & momentary.”  I can’t wait, & neither can Jim!  “Weight of Glory”…what an awesome phrase, in the true meaning of the words!  The Sovereign God is not just preparing Jim to be tough, or manly, or whatever.  (He flew an airplane armed with nuclear torpedoes around the north Atlantic chasing Soviet missile subs.  He also played the trombone at our Dad’s funeral [I’m still in awe all these years later].  Plus, there’s the 14+ hour surgery last May…“tough” & “manly” were surpassed long ago.)  No, God is preparing Jim—and you & me as believers—for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.  He is shaping & molding us to bear His image & to reflect His glory.

Sometimes, that preparing & workmanship & shaping fall light & easy on us.  Often the same shaping & workmanship are tough to go through.  Like, say, six to 24 months of weekly chemo.

Hallelujah!  One day, all the shaping & molding will be complete, and we will bear that eternal weight of glory.  And then, in ways we can only glimpse now, all of our trials & tough times here will seem light & momentary.  We will even thank God for them!

But that day is not here yet.  Not for you, for me, nor for Jim.  Therefore, would you please join me in holding him before the throne of grace in prayer?  Would you do so at least every Friday?

     But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair…struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh…knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence…to the glory of God.
     So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-18 ESV)

No comments: