I have an early morning routine.
The routine came from my parents.
In the predawn silence at the kitchen table, I read the daily devotional from the Upper Room, study the recommended scripture, and then I torment God—I pray.
When my praying ends, God cheers.
Clearly, I am no theologian.
The Bible perplexes me.
Yet, some verses from the Bible give me hope in a struggling world.
Jeremiah 29:11 is one of those hopeful verses: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Back on January 29, a funeral service was held at our church for one of our members, Barbara Burton. Barbara battled stage four kidney cancer for four years.
If cancer was not enough of a challenge, Barbara and her husband, Milt, lost their daughter, Alysia Basmajian, in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.
Barbara’s loss of her daughter, and her battle with cancer are a direct contradiction to Jeremiah’s scripture: “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
In August of 2018, Henrico County School Board member, Lisa Marshall, announced she was resigning from the school board to focus on her battle with cancer.
After applying to fill this vacancy, in October of 2018, I was appointed to fill out Mrs. Marshall’s term.
My appointed term ended in December 2019. I’m not a politician. I opted not to run.
In that November 2019 election, Marcie Shea, an outstanding community leader, was elected to take my place.
Mrs. Shea has given great leadership to our school system in these very challenging times. Noting her skills, board members elected Mrs. Shea as the chairman in January of 2022.
Just days before being elected chairman, Mrs. Shea made a heartbreaking public announcement. Six years into remission, breast cancer returned. This time the cancer is stage four and inoperable. True to her internal fortitude, Mrs. Shea plans to stay in office while taking the prescribed treatments.
Mrs. Shea’s announcement, is another direct contradiction to Jeremiah’s scripture: “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Since the summer of 1992, I have despised cancer.
On August 31, 1992, that stealer of life took my mother. I will never forget, nor forgive this intrusion.
When life goes wrong, I am a finger pointer.
When life does go wrong, rarely do I take the time to search deeply into my inner soul to really understand what went wrong—I’m too busy pointing that finger.
God knows that my finger points in his direction quite a bit.
I want him to intervene. I want him to right the wrongs I see.
I want God to confront the devilish cancer.
I want God to say, “Hey you pernicious pestilence, back off. Barbara and Marcie have suffered already. Enough. Leave them alone.”
Perhaps like me, you have determined that life doesn’t work that way.
Sometimes, I wonder how much of the bad in life is from our own doing.
We were given this beautiful world, but we seem intent on destroying it.
We explore Antarctica. We trash it.
We explore outer space. We trash it too.
Speaking of space, we recently launched the James Webb Telescope way out into the blue yonder. This telescope cost ten billion dollars.
Once properly positioned, this most powerful of all telescopes will allow scientist to see what our universe was like after the Big Bang. Just in case you want to know that was 200 million years ago.
Ten billion dollars to look into the past.
Is this our best thinking?
Why can’t we commit ten billion dollars to blast cancer out of this universe?
On Wednesday, February 16, the local nonprofit, Jill’s Blankets, took over the fellowship hall at our church. Jill’s Blankets makes beautiful fleece blankets for cancer patients. The blankets help to keep patients warm during and after treatments.
That day, volunteers made forty five blankets, and within twenty four hours, forty of the blankets had been delivered to patients.
For me, that is a good application of: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Those volunteers gave the patients a bit of hope for the future.
Marcie Shea, and anyone else in our world who is in the trenches with cancer—hold on to this—we love you, not with harm, but with prayers of hope.
Hope that prayers of love will allow you to send that cancer straight to hell.
Graphic image designed by Elizabeth Pike