In Sickness and in Health

Battling cancer with love, medicine, and the Giver of both.

My 100th birthday!

Thanks to Emily Eby, I was reminded that today is my 100th day since transplant!

If you’re familiar with Lord of the Rings… I always think of Bilbo Baggins when I say my 100th birthday and I like to roll it out on my tongue like he does, “Today is my one hundred and eleventh birthday.” 🙂

 

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Glorious Ruin

Please allow me to recommend one of the best books on suffering.  Ok, maybe I’ve read like less than a handful in my lifetime.  So not professing to be a connoisseur on that or anything.  But I’d like to think that the last year and a half of my life gives my opinions on the subject some credibility.

Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian with a subtitle of “How suffering sets you free”

I haven’t even finished the book yet …dangerous, I know… but I’d recommend it to anyone.  And don’t think that you have to go through cancer in order to qualify as a reader.  Quite the opposite.  And I quote,

“If the only things that qualify as suffering in your life are natural disasters or global warfare, you will soon find yourself plastering a smile on your face and nodding overenthusiastically whenever someone asks you how you are doing.”

I am not going to attempt a summary on the book in terms of a neatly constructed book report.  I’m simply going to share some of my favorite quotes so far.

  • “We have enough books tackling the How.  How suffering can and will transform our lives, how we can leverage pain and tragedy to make us better people.  Results, results, results!  Underneath this hopeful veneer, such philosophies tend to fall flat when things don’t go according to plan, when we find out that our power, especially in the face of suffering, is a lot more limited than we thought.  Pain would not be pain if we could harness it for personal gain, though the tendency to attempt to do so is a universal one.”
  • “Answers to prayers for help are a problem only when you look on God as a divine vending machine programmed to dispense Cokes, Camels, lost keys, and freedom from gall-bladder trouble to anyone who has the right coins.”
  • “There must be a Good Friday before there can be an Easter, and if our suffering is hedged in language intended to shield God from culpability, we never get beyond the life-support stage.”
  • “If you subscribe to a human-centered theology with personal progress as its focal point, you face a cruel God who holds out the carrot of the good life but instead delivers the opposite.”
  • Tullian refers to the story in John 9 as an example of Jesus debunking a reward/punishment mentality (if you’re good, only good will come to you).  Jesus’ disciples ask whether the blind man sinned or his parents.  Jesus replies, “Neither… but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in his life.”  And I quote from Tullian: “I’m not sure how Jesus could be any clearer!  Something else was going on in this man’s suffering than a this-for-that retributive exchange.  The man’s affliction was not evidence of a curse or punishment.  In fact, God was somehow present in it.  The works of God displayed in infirmity and weakness, rather than health and strength?  Is that a cross hanging around your neck?”
  • And this last quote was perhaps the most powerful one to me at this time since I’ve been turning myself inside out trying to understand God in relation to suffering.  Tullian was attempting to explain an idea from Luther: “From God’s perspective, the pieces do fit together, and one could see God at work even in the trials of our lives.  But no human theologian can occupy that perspective, and so, even to make such confident claims is to try to reach beyond faith.  By haunting us with the image of that unknown God, Luther reminds Christians of the insecurity with which we must be willing to live if we are to live in trust of a God who remains mystery even in revelation.”

If any of those didn’t make sense to you, well…I probably didn’t give enough context.  Which means you’ll just have to read the book yourself.

Just a quick update:

Met with the doctor yesterday and talked about my recent fatigue and increased itching.  (I’m attributing the fatigue to coming off of steroids)  Again…he doesn’t seem worried.  Basically, he’s doing all he can to check things out at this point (doing labs and feeling for swollen nodes).  He does not see any reason to rush my next scan in August.

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