I had my phone off because I was in a meeting. When I turned it back on, it buzzed letting me know what texts were waiting. I scrolled down the list until I saw the title of one that made me catch my breath.
I didn't want to open the text and finish the sentence. I knew there had been an MRI to check on the reason for back pain. I knew there had been two previous devastating MRI results, one six years, and another three years ago. I did not want to see the reality that this fine young man was facing his enemy for the third time in his short life. I didn't want to finish the sentence "Ian has ______" as if not opening that text would somehow keep it from being true.
But, it is true. Ian has cancer, again. This is the third time he has heard this news, the third time he has had to rearrange his life, the third time he has had to face treatment and the uncertainty it brings.
Yes, Ian has cancer, but he has so much more. We can finish that sentence with better words that are just as true.
Peace I leave with you: My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Last Sunday, Ian stood up in front of the congregation and thanked us for our prayers. He took time to reassure us that he had peace about the diagnosis and treatment. This young man, barely a teenager, has the courage and presence of mind to share his peace with those of us who pray and grieve over him. God has blessed him with a peace we cannot even imagine and in that peace we see evidence of the gift of his faith.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
Ian has a huge cloud of witnesses surrounding him in this race. We pray for him, cry over him, cheer him on, and stand ready to help in any other way that is needed. Because of his premature birth, Ian has literally grown up in the midst of this cloud of people who love him and pray for him. He feels this every day in a tangible way. His courage in this race gives us evidence of the gift of our faith.
Ian has the promise of eternal life.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
In the light of Ian's challenge this verse takes on a whole new significance. He will not perish; he has eternal life. We pray the next 80 years or so of that eternal life are spent here on earth, but we know that he has eternal life, none-the-less.
Abba, Father, Please, send your hand of healing to your child, Ian, even as You bless him with peace, strength and faith. Amen, amen, amen.