A Witness From My Father

My mother has cancer. The following was posted by my dad on her CaringBridge site, and I think it might greatly edify you today.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013.
Susan's oncologist has readmitted her to the hospital to get a workup for her pneumonia. It was not responding quickly enough to the antibiotics. She is low on protein, slightly anemic, blood pressure was low, oxygen sat rates were too low, so they put her on oxygen. The hospitalist just visited and it was comforting to realize that pneumonia can come on suddenly and knock you for a loop...even within minutes. Thank you for your continued prayers.

This morning Susan said, as a few clumps of hair came out, "He knows how many even fall out." This led to our talking about God's sovereignty, His goodness, His care as a Father. This led to the idea of interpreting everything that comes to us with the foregoing as our interpretative paradigm. We also talked about not allowing this to lead to stoicism or fatalism but to continue to approach Him on the basis of our adoption, as a child to a Father. So we pray for mercy, grace, and good outcomes in terms of the medical course; nevertheless, let His good will be done. This was our discussion on the way to the oncologist.

As we arrived we took a seat in the waiting room. Seated to my right was a gentleman in a wheelchair with oxygen. On the chair next to him he had an old black and white movie DVD, which led to my interaction with him. "So, are you a movie buff?" "Yes, I am. I have quite a collection." So we had a delightful conversation about movies. His name is Pete. Pete shares with me that his cancer has taken a turn for the worse, having moved to his lung. At this point, I don't quite know what to say. But then Pete says, "Yeah, if things don't work out, you know, phift! That's it." "You know, Pete, it's hard to find good news when you're in the condition you and my wife are in, but Jesus makes unique claims that this life is not all there is." I point him to the promises in John 8.

I go on to talk about searching the world over and you will not find anything like the gospel of Jesus Christ. He looks to me as if he's not familiar with engaging with someone talking like this. Then he tells me they've given him two months to live! He opens the door to his heart and shares this with me, a stranger. I reply that it's fairly rare for people to talk serious eternal questions with people in his condition. Yes, there are well wishers and people who kindly express concern, but to talk about Jesus...(you probably think I'm some kind of whacko talking this way. He assures me he doesn't think I'm a whacko. I tell him about my encounter with an acquaintance who was in a hospital room down the hall dying from liver failure and how I had met with her three times, and at the third time I was seeing signs of faith in Christ.

Then we switched gears and I asked him if he had ever read Romans, the greatest letter ever written? "No, I haven't." I rehearse with him how sublime it is and it takes about a minute forty seconds to read a chapter, and how I like to encourage people to read the first eight chapters. "You'll never read anything like it. Pete, have you got 12 or 14 minutes to read it? And if you do, and you interact with it, you know what you'll do? You'll go back and start all over again." He then tells me how he almost died a few months ago as a result of blood clots in his lung. It was nip and tuck. Back to where I started this morning with Susan about who God is, what's He like, and how He is the bedrock we stand on to interpret what comes our way. "Pete, I believe in the Providence of God. Maybe He spared you so that you meet this crazy old movie buff in the waiting room encouraging you to read Romans?" Susan's name was called and we had to go. But Pete's well wishing was so warm and heartfelt. I left him with this: "Pete, Satan is going to whisper in your ear, 'Pete, it's too simple and too late for find forgiveness in Christ.' He's the accuser. He's the liar. Be ready for it. All false religion tells you what you have to do to earn righteousness. Jesus gives it to you as a free gift. He is our righteousness. He paid for our sins. All that's required is you open your hands and receive it as a gift. Interact with scripture and trust Christ. He cannot lie. He's the truth, the way, and the life....." I wish I could continue to meet with him, but that, too, will be in the Lord's Providence.

I share this because there is a purpose in everything. His care is that of a Heavenly Father. Because of Jesus, His Eternal Son, the Second Person of the Triune God, through faith alone and trusting Him we are adopted sons and daughters of God the Father, and co-heirs with Christ. Lord willing, her life and legacy will be pointing many to our Savior.

It suddenly occurred to me that because of my "slight" hearing diminution, probably the entire waiting room heard our discussion! Wouldn't it be cool if there were several tonight that were reading the Greatest Letter Ever Written?


Brian Mattson