The Terminal

from Dec 03, 2011 Category: Articles

The yellowing sky confirmed the wisdom of the forecasters, a tornado might well be just around the bend. With one eye scouring the landscape I dutifully herded my then seven children into our basement. One of them, worried, asked me- “Are we all going to die?” Tender hearted father that I am, I told the truth—“Of course…but probably not today.” We survived the weather that day, but we are all still terminal.

As my wife continues her valiant fight against leukemia she too occasionally asks me to look into my crystal ball. She wants to know if she is going to make it. The doctors don’t know, and they are considerably more knowledgeable than I am.  So I tell my wife what I do know- “I don’t know if you are going to get well or not. I do know that that day was appointed before all time. Nothing will make it a day later, nothing a day earlier.  Cancer cannot determine when you go home. Only your Father can.

God can and does give clues, from time to time. The Bible affirms that He opens and closes the womb.  That doesn’t mean that Abraham and Sarah didn’t have reason to be surprised. That Denise is ill, that it is this kind of cancer, that form of leukemia, this other test result suggests that we have more reason to worry about her than me. Seeking to decipher all these clues causes us to ride a roller coaster of hope and fear. I have come to learn, however, that my confidence on a given day is likely more tied to how poorly I slept the night before than it is deciphering the results of a CT scan.

My calling then is to rest in, to believe, to be comforted by what He has spoken clearly.  Providence is His, but there He speaks a strange language in muted tones. His Word, on the other hand is both loud and clear. We know, for starters, that God Himself is behind this. God will either defeat the cancer He has sent, or He will have sent the cancer that calls her home (Isaiah 45:7). We know that whether her time is sooner or later, it works out for the good not only for her, but for her husband and children (Romans 8:28). We know that whenever He calls her home He will at the same time heal her fully (Revelation 21:4).

Insofar as I am able, by His grace, to believe what He has revealed, I am able to be at peace about what He has not revealed. Insofar as I seek to learn the secret things, I will fail to believe what He has revealed.  One thing we know for certain- He is good. He loves us with an everlasting love. That doesn’t answer the question of the day or the hour. It just makes it not so important.

It is a good and proper thing that I should, and you as well if you are willing, pray that God would make Denise well, that He would allow us to grow old together. It is, however, a better thing to pray that I would be a faithful husband to my love, and a faithful father to the children He has blessed us with. It is less important that He believe me and my conviction, that the kingdom would be better with her here. It is more important that I believe Him and His promise that the gates of hell will not prevail (Matthew 16:18), and that He who has begun a good work in us will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus (Ephesians 6:10). This train is bound for glory.