My dad has cancer.
Thankfully, the cancer does not have him. I think it did at one point, a few months ago, when he began to show some disturbing outward signs of its invasion.
Stage five, in several places throughout his body, and the general timeline they gave him was a few months. He lost color in his face, had a bulging cancer spot on his jaw, became too nauseous to keep any food down, and was losing blood when he went to the bathroom. I watched the strongest person I know wither into a shell of a man. He was sleeping all of the time, and withdrawing from everyone around him. The doctors told him he could do chemotherapy to prolong his life a bit, or try a very aggressive, very expensive treatment that might or might not help.
Our family believes in miracles. We even believe in instant healing, and have seen it happen. We’re a little crazy like that, but we like it that way.
So, when we initially received the news of this cancer, our immediate reaction was to believe for his healing. We told him we were behind him in whatever decision he made. After weighing his options, he decided not to get treatment. He started visiting an herbal shop, taking vitamins and supplements, and changing his diet. For a while, all seemed well and we just knew it had disappeared from his body. If anyone would be healed instantly, it would be my Dad, Mark Jones…
He started preaching at age seven. No, that’s not a typo.
As a child and teenager, it was apparent there was a special calling on his life. He spoke at multiple revivals and church services, and people were healed of sickness, healed emotionally and spiritually, and many made decisions to follow Jesus Christ.
Growing up, we spent all of our extra time in church. I remember lying under the pew with my blanket to nap when the services would run a little late. It was a normal occurrence for me to see people receive miracles and lives changed. We traveled around to various churches, and every time my Dad ministered, I listened intently. Even if I had heard that particular sermon before, there was always an excitement in his words that drew me in. It was a fantastic childhood.
So, in my eyes, my Dad has always been this rock of a person, unshakeable, with the faith to do anything. But I began to see his humanity peeking through. His struggles and fears were rising to the surface, and it was making me uncomfortable. It made me think that it was possible we weren’t going to get the miracle we were expecting. It made me wonder if my Dad really would live to see my son grow up, or my sister married.
Most of all, it made me realize that my amazing Daddy has the same struggles as anyone.
It’s a strange feeling when someone you’ve put on a pedestal your whole life actually shows signs of being a normal person. Not that I haven’t seen Dad upset occasionally, or that he’s never made a mistake-we all have. It’s just that he is the very closest thing I’ve ever known to perfect. (As my Meme quotes, “Mark the perfect man.”) :)
So when he started having a hard time believing for his healing, when he was in pain to the point of frustration, and nothing seemed to be changing, I wasn’t quite sure how to take it. I stepped back and re-evaluated my thinking. And here is what I found…
Either I thought he was somehow beyond the realm of normal human feelings and fears, or I expected him to bottle those up while speaking only faith. I was trying to say and do the right things, but in the process I was putting pressure on him to not express his concerns. I did it ignorantly, of course, but I still did it. I learned a lot about myself and him during this process. I’ll still be the first person to say that there is power in speaking and thinking positively, but I believe God also doesn’t expect us to pretend our feelings don’t exist. The key is in giving those feelings to God and letting Him be in control of them, while trusting that He knows more than we do.
So you need an update on Dad. We told him we would completely support his decision if he decided to get treatment. And after getting a second doctor’s opinion, he did just that. He is on the chemo pill, and has been for a couple months, and is doing EXCELLENT! Not only is his color back, the place on his jaw has become dramatically smaller, he is able to eat regularly, and his blood work is looking great, but he has life back in him. He is getting bored at home, which is a good sign. While he didn’t receive instant healing, he has certainly surpassed all expectations the doctors had, and that is a miracle in itself. I have to say a heartfelt, sometimes tearful and blubbering “thank you” to God every time I think about it. I’ve also realized exactly how many amazing people we know through this process.
Sometimes miracles come instantly, in the way we look for them. Other times, they come through a process, and in ways completely outside of what we imagine. This may include what we perceive as an unanswered prayer. But even in the face of “unanswered” prayer, we will learn and grow if we allow ourselves to. I believe God speaks in ways beyond our limited human thinking. Sometimes we think of Him as cruel or indifferent, or even non-existent, when He doesn’t give us everything we think we need or want. But a good parent doesn’t grant his child’s every wish and whim. Malachi would eat sugar all day if I allowed him to, but what kind of parent would I be to let that happen?
Happiness is not having everything you want. It’s something deeper than that. If you’ve been through some tough situations, you know what I mean. Going through the hard times makes you truly appreciate the good times, and makes you more capable of seeing what true beauty and joy really is. It’s my opinion that God is more concerned with the end result, rather than the here and now. And He really does know what He is doing.