Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Abundance (06/08/06)
TITLE: An Abundance of Pain; An Abundance of Grace
By Matthew Morgan
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At the time, I attended college while working as a youth pastor. My wife supported me by working in the town, building wiring harnesses. We were living 1200 miles from our home and our families, surviving by ourselves – with God’s help.
I had woken up earlier that week with a pain in my back. I assumed it ached as the result of my workout the previous week – a painful attempt at reclaiming the athletic prowess I had lost after high school. The pain did not subside, and so I went to my doctor expecting a fix for a pinched nerve. Instead, she found too many other small problems; all of them adding up to the dreaded “C” word: Cancer.
The next day blurred as I endured an abundance of torture: MRI rings, X-Ray rooms, and ultrasound machines. The results gave us a more specific diagnosis. I had a form of lymphoma growing next to my lung. I knew what it meant; one of my friends had just died from lymphoma. I knew the prognosis would be bad … or worse.
As my wife and I traveled home that night – the longest hour of our lives, we sat in silence, feeling abundant fear, pain, worry, and despair. We walked into our home, collapsed on our couch, and held each other.
At first I feared death. I never expected my wife to be a widow after less than five years of marriage. Would I want her to remarry? Sure – I wanted her to be happy. Once I thought of the fear of death, I had to handle my fear of dying - the process of dying. How long would I suffer? How much of a treatment should we endure?
We held each other and wept. As we went to bed, we picked up our devotional book and read a scripture that would change our attitudes through the entire process. “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you (I Peter 5:10 NASB).
In that moment, God’s abundant grace chased away the abundant fear, pain, worry, despair, and any other negative emotion. We knew that whatever happened, we would be safe in God’s abundant arms.
In the next week, blessings came from every direction. Our children’s pastor changed our oil and prepared us for the drive to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Our youth group gathered together late one night and prayed just for me. The grandparents of some of the teens in our youth group ran a home for Mayo patients and offered to feed and house us for the stay. The college took up an offering and blessed us financially to make up for the lost work.
As we entered my treatment at the Mayo clinic, the doctors determined that the “lymphoma” was not lymphoma – it was a growth on the side of my lung that would eventually go away on its own.
We returned to town, the recipients of God’s abundant grace – after suffering an abundance of pain.
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