The Days of Diagnosis

As I sat in my general physician’s office parking lot these words came across the radio…

 

You must

You must think I’m strong

To give me what I’m going through
Well, forgive me

Forgive me if I’m wrong

But this looks like more than I can do

On my own

 

I had been to doctor’s office twice already about the ulcer on my tongue. I was sweating bullets. The first time I was there I had prayed, and prayed in the parking lot for this painful sore on my tongue to be nothing. I was elated when he said it was a mucosal ulcer, “don’t worry”. You should have seen me praising His name in the truck. I was elated. The second trip was similar but cautiously muted. But this time was different. After coping with it for a month, doing my own research, looking at pictures on Google, I had that gut feeling that it wasn’t going to be something simple.

I prayed to God that day that no matter what the results, that I was His, he was my salvation and I trusted Him completely. No matter what was to come, even if it was the worst of all possible options, I asked Him to give me the strength to suffer well.

The radio continued …

 

I know I’m not strong enough to be

Everything that I’m supposed to be

I give up

I’m not strong enough

Hands of mercy won’t you cover me

Lord right now I’m asking you to be

Strong enough

Strong enough

For the both of us

 

On that day I left the doctor’s office with just as many questions as I had going in. However, I did have one thing, an impromptu appointment with my ENT and was on my way straight to his office to let him take a look at it. The look on his face told me the whole story when he looked at the side of my tongue and said, “Alan, I’m going to have to get a biopsy of that. Have you got time for me to do it today?”

A few days later, Lori and I sat in the ENT’s office waiting on the doctor to let us know the results from the biopsy. Lori and I had prayed for good news, but when he walked in and said “Alan, I want you to know that I have been praying for you” I knew it wasn’t going our way. Squamous Cell Carcinoma on the base of my tongue. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, the whole nine yards. Lori and I took some time to dry our eyes and all I could think to tell her was that it was going to be OK, that God has always provided, He will continue to be merciful and we will continue to be faithful.

 

Well, maybe

Maybe that’s the point

To reach the point of giving up
Cause when I’m finally

Finally at rock bottom

Well, that’s when I start looking up

And reaching out

 

My mind flashes back to sitting in my truck at the general physician’s office. I had made God a promise that no matter the outcome that I was His, He was my salvation and most importantly, if this went bad I would need His strength to suffer well. That has stuck with me everyday since. To suffer well to me means to work hard to make it obvious to those around me that Christ is in my heart, God is in control and the Holy Spirit walks with me every step of the way.

 

I know I’m not strong enough to be

Everything that I’m supposed to be

I give up

I’m not strong enough

Hands of mercy won’t you cover me

Lord right now I’m asking you to be

Strong enough

Strong enough

Song: Strong Enough

Artist: Matthew West

God Starts To Prepare Me

When I decided to do a blog I knew that I would want to go back and talk about what has happened so far and how God has made his presence known through out this trial. That raised the question, “When did God start moving in my life to prepare me for this?” Well, we could go all the way back to providing me with godly parents, grandparents, a childhood in church, etc … We could go back to God drawing Lori and I together. For there is NO WAY that I could manage any of this without her. What about when he blessed me with two wonderful children? However, I think the most logical place to start is where God really grabbed my heart. In 2008 around Christmas I was given an opportunity to go to Mexico on a mission trip with Hands and Feet Ministries. I was paired up with a great group from Burnt Hickory Baptist Church from Acworth/Kennesaw area. It was an amazing trip and blew me away. It taught me that even in my everyday life that I must rely heavily on prayer and guidance from Christ. On the flight home, a new friend let me listen to his iPod and suggested I listen to Matt Chandler, a young gun reformed Baptist preacher out of Texas, and I was hooked. Chandler spoke to me on many different levels and quickly became a staple on my iPod and I listened to him almost every time I was in the car. While listening to some of his archived sermons, I found a sermon about one of Matt’s parishioners that had been diagnosed with a nasty cancer. The thrust of the sermon talked about how this guy “suffered well” in the face of a devestating diagnosis. With a family to worry about, his health, finances, funeral planning, treatments that were rough, all the bad things … this man always turned his conversations to Christ and how God’s blessing flowed even during this horrible time in his life. This sermon stuck in my head and I thought about it often.

During Thanksgiving a few years later Matt collapsed and after numerous test, was diagnosed with his own “nasty cancer”. A brain cancer that had to be removed, most likely would leave him unable to speak, and one with a heart breaking prognosis. Matt was very open about his health, through video and text blogs, even in his sermons. He talked about his disease and always talked about how God was working in his life and how blessings flowed even during rough time in his life. He gave me a week by week example of what it meant to “suffer well”.

To be honest, Chandler has sort of slid off my radar. I listen to him from time to time and he still sets me on fire every time I listen to his sermons. He truly is a man on fire for God. His sermons and testimony of his life made a huge impact on me. And to think, God is filling me with this several years before I would ever need to tap the strength and confidence that came from this young gun pastor, fiery sermons, and a new friend I met in Mexico in 2008.