A Silent Malignancy


I have a friend whom I have known for about 50 years.

(Yes, it may be hard for some of you to believe that I am old enough to have known a friend for almost 50 years. It’s a fact!)

My friend is actually a little older than I am. As a young teen, she lived nearby and occasionally babysat my sister and I

(poor thing ~ not that I was a terrible kid ~ but I did have my moments)

. Then, as newlyweds, she and her husband were sponsors in my high school youth group at church.

They have remained

young at heart

 ~ staying active, enjoying traveling, appreciating art ~ and still in love after all these years. So it came as quite a shock this past spring, when her husband was diagnosed with a tumor ~ a large malignant tumor near his kidney and in close proximity to his aorta ~ that remains inoperable. As a healthy man, he experienced no discomfort, no signs that these cancerous cells were growing inside of him. If he had not gone in for a routine physical, they had no reason to suspect the presence of the tumor.

Over the past few months, he has undergone tests, scans, countless appointments with specialists and massive doses of chemotherapy. He lost his full head of hair. His body reacted to the chemo treatments and began to retain fluids. His energy level dropped to limited activity around the house. The

good news

is that the tumor did shrink. He no longer requires chemotherapy, and his energy level has improved to almost where it was before the treatments. The

bad news

is that the tumor did not shrink enough. He is scheduled to begin radiation treatments in a little while.

My friend keeps an online journal of their journey with cancer. One of her entries this week truly made me stop and think ~ how well am I?

Here is a summary of her entry . . .

It is almost hard to remember the days when he felt the effects of chemo; to recall how hard it was during those endless days and nights. He feels so normal now. We almost forget that he still has a malignant tumor in his body. There is no pain, no sign of it that he can feel or know, or be reminded that it is there. These last eight months that we have been on this journey have been experienced because the doctor told him he had a problem.  He never knew ~ and still would not know simply by how he feels ~ that he has a tumor which will kill him. This is really rather stunning when you think about it. How can there be something deadly in one’s body and have no idea it is there?

But it is still there, lurking in the dark, waiting for us to forget; to leave it alone so it can grow back and take over ~ how sinister! It reminds me of how attitudes and thoughts can take over in our spiritual lives ~ small or big, quietly yet deadly ~ growing . . . hoping to take over our minds and hearts if we are not watchful and prayerful about how we live and breathe, always asking God to show us those areas where we need His care and healing to remove them, to make our spiritual health intact, to live and grow in Him and bring glory to Him through our life.

Her words reach deep within my soul!

Sometimes I think we are quite good at masking reality. Denial, at the moment, may seem an easier path. But like any cancer ~ cells of unrighteousness and unforgiveness, of anger and disappointment, of hurt and envy ~ will fester and multiply. The Great Physician desires to heal us ~

redeem us

~ in every fiber of our being. His Spirit scans our mind, our heart and our soul, and reveals the thoughts and attitudes that seek to destroy our peace with God, our relationships, and ultimately, our very purpose for living.

I am reminded of the story in John 5 when Jesus visits Jerusalem. He passes by a pool where the blind, lame and paralyzed lay ~ each hoping for someone to come and meet their needs. Jesus approaches a man who has been an invalid for 38 years and asks him,

"Do you want to get well?"

It sure seems like a redundant question to ask someone who has been sick all of his life if he wants to get well. But Jesus knows our tendency to not deal with hard issues ~ thoughts and attitudes we choose to ignore. Jesus looks at what life

could be

if we are willing to face these silent malignancies that hold us back from the abundant life he truly desires us to live.

Jesus also knew wellness was going to cost this man. The invalid would no longer be carried everywhere; no longer have food brought to him. A well man would need to accept responsibility for his life.

Oh, to have eyes that see and ears that hear His offer of healing. I pray we take the first steps to

redeem the future

. . . acknowledge there may an area of the heart ~ a silent malignancy ~ which needs to be restored. 

Do you want to get well?

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

Matthew 13:16