“If the Lord had not been on our side ” (Psalms 124:1)
I had my PSA checked the other day in preparation for my visit tomorrow in Traverse City with my radiation oncologist. It’s been two years since it was discovered that my prostate cancer had returned, only this time in a lymph node near my kidney. A year and a half of treatment followed, and now my lab results are watched like a hawk. Next month I get to do it again, only this time for my regular oncologist here in Cadillac.
The result this time was 0.4. That in and of itself is actually fine, since anything less than 2.0 isn’t a cause for concern. However, my last four results have continued to trend upward, just a 0.1 tick each time. I find it a little discouraging for a couple of reasons.
I’ve come to terms with knowing the cancer will never be gone. All that treatment ever accomplishes in my case is to put it back into remission for a while. The first time it lasted thirteen years. I was hoping for maybe five or ten years of remission this time. But if the current trend of my PSA holds true it won’t be that long, and if it climbs back above 2.0 then I will spend the remainder of my life receiving Lupron injections every four months. If it were ten years down the road I would decline and take my chances. If it’s only two or three years, I’ll probably take them and live with having very little energy and frustrating side effects.
As I discussed with friends yesterday, it’s a little like living with a sword hanging over your head: the inevitability of what you know is coming, hoping for more time but feeling as though it’s a false hope. At times it can be depressing when you think about it and dwell on it too much. It sucks the joy from life right now, the thought of not having much for which to look forward.
That’s why this verse caught my attention this morning when I read it as part of my daily Bible reading. It would be seductively easy to simply give in to despair of the inevitable, but as one who is the servant of Jesus Christ I have strength and hope which I cannot manufacture myself. As Paul once said, “so you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13) I have victory assured no matter what happens to me, because as I remain surrendered to God’s purposes He will use all of my circumstance to His glory. I can ask for no greater privilege, to honor and glorify God through my life, and my death. That’s hope that sustains.
We often get lost in the bitter parts of our lives and wonder why these things happen to us. But rarely do we stop to consider what might have happened if we were not under the protection of God through Jesus Christ. As I look at my own life I realize there were times because of my own foolishness when I was walking at the edge of a cliff with only Jesus standing between me and falling off. As Christians we should have the confidence to live as if we have nothing to lose, even in the worst of circumstances. Our minds and hearts should be so thoroughly surrendered and attuned to God that we recognize his guidance and protection whatever may happen to us, and we trust Him with it completely, without question, anxiety, or fear.
Lord protect us and keep us from giving in to despair. We know Your plans for us are right and work toward our good and Your glory. Teach us to trust You in all things, at all times, for You have proven Yourself to be worthy of our devotion and our trust. May we always seek to walk with You and glorify You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.