Unanswered Questions and the Christian Life

“Will my cancer ever go away, Dad?”

The question caught me off guard, but this was Carson’s way. As we traveled to St. Jude each week by plane, our time together was surprisingly joyful. What father would not appreciate 36 uninterrupted hours with his firstborn every week for nearly three years? We laughed, played games, and enjoyed one another’s company. Interspersed in our routine, however, were insightful questions like these that seemingly came from nowhere.

“Why did God give me cancer, Dad?”

“Does God really love me, Dad?”

“What purpose does God have for me, Dad?”

These were just a few of the more thoughtful discussions we had along the way. But not knowing Carson’s future was the most difficult part of the journey. After his initial diagnosis of leukemia in 2011, Carson was elevated from low to standard risk due to his unusually high white blood count. The worst thoughts imaginable ran amok during those early days of treatment. Was Carson going to die? Could he live a normal life even if he survived? What side effects would his invasive chemotherapy cause? 

We waited nervously to find out if cancer cells were in his spinal fluid. We paced the floor during the regular spinal taps called for by his treatment plan. We went home disappointed when Carson’s first bone marrow test revealed that his chemotherapy, though working, had not yet eradicated his cancer entirely. All the while, we wondered if we would ever defeat the uninvited guest that was wreaking havoc on our lives. 

The highs and lows along the way were too numerous to count. One drug Carson received was so powerful it had to be immediately flushed from his kidneys lest it cause permanent damage. We waited all night in the ERs of numerous cities every time he spiked a fever, fearing bacterial septicity. We grieved the loss of dear friends whose earthly battles with pediatric cancer ended with the least desirable outcomes, even as we wondered if the same fate awaited us.

Waiting.

Not knowing.

Fearing the worst.

So, one day at a time, we woke up and gave our son to the Lord. Certainly, we were more attuned to it during those days, but it occurs to me that much of our existence is very much the same. We do not know what the future holds (James 4:14a). Life is far too brief and fragile (James 4:14b). Our best bet is to give every day that we have to the Lord and trust Him with whatever comes our way (James 4:15). 

We need the same outlook to endure the uncertainties of the present. I do not know what the future holds, but there is much that causes me concern. When will the COVID-19 pandemic end? When will our economy stabilize? When will the political gridlock cease? When will the racial tensions subside? Or, to restate Carson’s question from all those years ago, “Will our problems ever go away?”

I wish I knew. The circumstances have changed, but some days I still find myself waiting, not knowing, and fearing the worst. So, what are we to do? Give every day to the Lord. Remember, that He is still on His throne and is in no way surprised by the world’s dilemmas. Do not allow the blindness of life to undermine your hope in the Lord’s goodness and strength. Live every day like it might be your last. And do it all for the Lord’s glory, never boasting in your own strength (James 4:16).

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