Disappointed, joyous and free

I don’t have problems. I have opportunities, and some of my opportunities are insurmountable – heard at a meeting.

It is a character trait of mine that my emotions run ahead of my reason. And the surest outcome of that tendency is to permit circumstances to toss me around. Let a storm cloud appear on the distant horizon, and I am already wet. Let a sliver of sunlight emerge, and the world is a perfect place. I strive to be temperate, I may even boast of it at times, but calm, rational acceptance of circumstances is hardly guaranteed.

Today received news that things actually are just as grim as we first thought. I had embraced the unexpectedly sunny prognosis, and have now made myself worse off than before in some ways. In addition to the fear I already faced, I now carry the additional burden of self-inflicted disappointment (not to mention some embarrassment over having celebrated a bit soon).

When I first had a confirmed cancer diagnosis, I resolved to glory in my infirmity. And God certainly seemed to be providing the grace to stare down this obstacle. But as is often the case, the price of grace can be dear. Thus the question becomes “is grace always sufficient for the trial?” Is the true measure of grace always to be found in the depth of the struggle? My theological self says “yes” emphatically, and my scared inner self says “shut up.”  They are not in conflict.

I will continue to proclaim that God is my fortress and my shield. As in the past, I will affirm that Jesus conquered death and that the grave no longer holds the victory. And I will do this with quivering lips because I am weak, as are we all. It is not bravado I wish to show to the world. Rather, it is the inexplicable peace that overcomes it. Don’t think for a moment that I am not frightened. To face something this dire and not be frightened is either insanity or stupidity. But beneath the fear is a joy that no one can take from me. And that joy is rooted in absolute truths: that I am loved and supported by the best people in the word, that the most spectacular woman in the world is my wife, and that God, in His boundless love, will never leave me desolate.

So be by my side as we navigate these “opportunities.” It’s going to be a hell of a ride.


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One Response to Disappointed, joyous and free

  1. Donna Okray Parman

    Well. Well. I hate this news. I’m sad to hear it. I’m happy you’ve been so happy in your life…that you have already overcome so much!

    Stephen, if this is the plan God has set for you, then nothing can change it but God Himself. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (which I know you know).

    Remember the story of Hezekiah? Well, God had planned for him to die, and he pled his case to the Lord, saying he had been so faithful! So God gave him twelve more years!

    We don’t know where or when, but someday we will all escape the pains and “opportunities of this earth, and have an amazing eternity!

    I will be praying for you daily, that what is ahead for you won’t be horrible. I know you have the rest taken care of.


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