Last night I attended my second Relay for Life team captain's meeting. And even after over two years of traveling this road, I still couldn't believe I was at a Relay for Life meeting. I'm actually a little embarrassed by the fact that I've never even attended a Relay for Life event. Why would I? Cancer had never really touched my life...it was somebody else's problem, not mine. Sure, I felt bad for those who had it...even prayed for them when asked to. At least until I got busy with something else and forgot about it.
But then we were unexpectedly hurled into the land of cancer. And we sat in waiting rooms at CARTI and Arkansas Children's Hospital with families who were traveling the road ahead of us. We literally spent hours talking with people (actually, Brad did most of the talking...if you know us, that won't surprise you!) whose lives had been turned completely upside down by cancer. We were on a first-name basis with children who received chemo treatments in beds right beside Hannah. Most of those kids we have not seen since we left Children's Hospital for the last time a little over a year ago, but we have followed many of them through the CaringBridge website. Some of them are doing very well, and some of them are not. One of the little guys who we often saw getting his chemo while Hannah was getting platelets has recently discontinued treatments...the doctors have told their family to just enjoy the time they have left together.
It seems like every day I hear of someone new being diagnosed with cancer. Some of them have hit relatively close to home...loved ones of people I love. And then some I've never actually met, but feel that I've known for years. I've mentioned Lauren Crook in this blog before...she's been doing really well, but just last week, a new cancerous spot was found in her sinus cavity. She had surgery on Monday, and is hoping to go to M. D. Anderson for a consult. This makes the fourth time she has battled cancer.
A friend recently sent me an email, telling me about the son-in-law of a mutual friend who has just been diagnosed with cancer. I don't think she'd mind me sharing the last sentence of her email: "Jill, do you ever just wonder what God has in mind....there is so much sadness and so much bad stuff that happens to good people....people that are Christian and love Him....". It took me a couple of days to reply. I don't know the "Sunday School" answer to that question, but here's what I've learned over the last two years. The struggles and grief of this life serve to make us yearn for Heaven. Why would we desire a relationship with the Lord and look forward to Heaven if we were living in Eden here?
I really think that from here on earth, God's plan is sometimes awfully hard to see. To us, it looks like the bottom side of a cross-stitch project, without an apparent pattern and with a whole lot of loose strings. But God sees the top side, the beautiful result of all those different threads coming together in perfect order. He's the master designer...He knows what He's doing...and He is good, all the time.