The day I was diagnosed with aggressive cancer, I did not place that unwelcome news in the miracle category. Today, however, ten months after that diagnosis, I see God’s hand at work regarding the timing of the diagnosis. I had just returned from a fishing trip with friends when I felt a sharp pain in my abdomen. My initial thought was that I had a kidney stone or a gall stone. I asked my daughter to drive me to the emergency room to get relief from the pain and to confirm my self-diagnosis. The pain subsided, but I was wrong about the diagnosis. Stage four pancreatic cancer was the verdict.
On the one hand, I was devastated by the totally unexpected news. However, over time, I have grown to be thankful for catching the disease far earlier than I might have. According to the doctor, the abdominal pain was very uncommon considering the location of the cancer cells. Typically, I would not have experienced symptoms for months to come. However, because I experienced the pain (which I have not experienced since), I was able to immediately start chemo treatments to slow down the rapid cancer growth.
The miracle of the early diagnosis is that I have experienced ten months of cancer treatments which have slowed down cancer growth and allowed me to stay active. I have spent significant quality time with family and friends, bringing me great joy. I continue to serve as a pastor to the St. Andrew family I cherish. Then, I have traveled with family and friends to several “bucket list” locations, which has been a true blessing.
Therefore, I count it a miracle that I was able to spend Valentine’s weekend with three of my granddaughters. I watched my six-year-old granddaughter, Emogene, climb up a ladder to reach the rings spaced out at a height above the ground that required a child to swing from ring to ring, one by one, to reach the ladder at the opposite end. As she made her way from one end of the rings to the other, she fell. Then, she fell again and again, which I thought would have ended her mission. However, with determination and persistence, along with an occasional hug from her Papaw, she kept getting back up and starting again until she made it from one end of the rings to the other without falling. The miracle was that Emogene never gave up, even when it seemed she was facing an impossible task.
You know, just when you think your role as a grandparent is to teach your grandchild how to navigate the challenges of life, they can (and do) end up teaching you. Jesus does remind us that “to our children belongs the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14). Emogene taught me a kingdom principle that day. When you fall, God has given us the power of his grace and love of family to provide a shining example or an encouraging hug to help us get back up and keep going. God’s grace and the love of family are miracles that give us strength in our time of need. God is good!
Thanks be to God for miracles both big and small.