Michelle and I celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary on July 31st. Our courtship began in middle school. Apart from a few periods of teenage drama, we have actually been together for 30 years. The Proverbs say, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD” (18:22). How thankful I am to have obtained the Lord’s favor!
At this time last year, we received the news of Michelle’s cancer diagnosis and shared that news with our Kentucky Baptist family. Looking back over this past year, the concern and kindness that we have been shown by our family of faith is humbling and overwhelming. And the mercy we have received from the Lord’s hand has been formative and healing.
With regard to healing, from all indications, Michelle’s journey through the valley of cancer is over. Praise the Lord!
As for being formative, the Lord has used this experience in more ways than we can count; but some of them need to be counted. God has used cancer to bring us closer to one another and closer to Him. He has used cancer to instill within us an even deeper appreciation for the prayers of His people, the blessing of marriage, and the privilege of being parents. And God has used cancer to teach us to savor the gift of life but, more importantly, to remind us of the unshakable, eternal hope and confidence we have in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Another of the many lessons I learned came at one of Michelle’s lowest moments. Still recovering from a major surgery, she was also in the middle of intensive chemotherapy treatments. Some who are now reading this article know the side effects all too well: zero energy, relentless nausea, hair loss. Misery in general.
As I was doing what I could to care for her, and wishing I could do more, she spoke these words to me: “I always knew you loved me, I just didn’t know how much.”
The lesson God taught me is that we show our love most tangibly and convincingly by serving. It is the message Jesus embodied, taught, and modeled to his disciples. It is the key to greatness in the Kingdom. And it is oftentimes the very thing God uses to testify to the truth of the gospel before a lost world.
And yet, even when we have been complimented for serving, as I was by my sick wife, the words of Jesus from Luke 17:10 come crashing upon us, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ”
Ah, more lessons…