“You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). When I read this verse, I think mostly of the second half. I think of the two statements given here: 1) that God has a purpose, and 2) that He is compassionate and merciful. I think how God has a purpose for each one of us, without exception, and how the overriding observation of James here when he comments on the life of Job, which was marked so emphatically by suffering, is God’s compassion; His mercy. I would say, too, that this has been my overriding observation of the last few weeks in what He has purposed for us. God is compassionate, He has not given us more than we can bear with His help. And He is merciful, we are still not getting what we deserve.
There is much for which to be thankful and still much for which to pray this week. By far, the biggest development in the last three days has been Matt’s blood numbers (his platelets, his fibrinogen, etc.). These had been trending downward since his stroke, leading to a diagnosis of low-grade DIC, a condition wherein the clotting factors in your blood become overactive. This condition does not happen on its own, but always has an underlying cause; in this case, cancer. Between 10% and 50% of patients who develop DIC die from it and the only way to treat it is with transfusions of platelets and other blood products until the underlying cause is also treated. I explain all of this to let you know that three days ago, those numbers for Matt began coming up. For three days in a row now, without any transfusions, Matt’s platelets, fibrin levels, and red blood cells have come up to almost normal levels. This is significant because it seems to point to the fact that the drug Matt is taking is working, that he is responding to it, that we are, in fact, treating the underlying the cause–the cancer. This is such a kindness from God!
Matt also continues to develop movement in his left hand, another thing for which we are thankful this week. Maybe next week it will be his arm or shoulder or leg, but for today, we are thankful for his hand.
Along with treating the systemic cancer in his body, Matt also began whole brain radiation this week. It was a victory in the sense that he made it to this point, but on that day, it felt much like a loss. With the radiation, there is a chance that Matt’s mind, his quite brilliant mind that God gave him, may not be exactly the same again. And there are still six treatments left. We obviously would not have made this choice if another one could be made, but somehow that knowledge did not mitigate the terrible heaviness I felt watching them put him in that machine.
And yet, we are here because God has a purpose for us. In cancer. In paralysis. In whole brain radiation. Certainly, there is sorrow in this place. At what life was before cancer. At still being whole while half of me is not.
There is also hope. For God may yet restore all that has been lost and more. That, even if He does not, there is still a hope kept safe for us in heaven.
And here in the present, while God sees fit to have us in this place, we are upheld by His continual compassion, His unfailing mercy, and His never-ending steadfast love.