My pastor and I were talking yesterday about the trials God allows. We believe similarly on this and had a wonderful discussion. The conclusion that we came to was that God certainly does not cause the trial or test, He allows it to come into our lives to grow our faith. The thing we don’t often see is the mercy that God gives us when we are in that trial. Instead of piling one trial on top of another, God displays mercy over and over again while we are going through the main trial. Let me take some time to explain because I have seen this in my own life so beautifully.
In December of 2015, I woke up one night thinking I might be having a heart attack. My chest was tight as I had never had it before, and my arm was hurting. My wife got me to the emergency room where they gave me some nitro and ran an EKG. No heart attack. It was pneumonia. MERCY. I stayed overnight an was released the next day with medications. Then at the end of January I came down with pneumonia again. This time it was a 4 day hospital stay. My doctor said he wanted to check a little deeper because something else must be going on. I asked him if he was thinking cancer, and he said he was hoping to eliminate that.
He ran a CT scan first. When he called me back to his office for the results, he told me that the radiologist said something he had never heard one say before. He looked at the lesions on mu bones that the scan showed and told my doctor they were Myeloma lesions. My doctor said radiologists never say that, but this one did. So my doctor ordered a more sure urine test to look for the particular protein that goes with Multiple Myeloma. And it was very positive. I had Multiple Myeloma. But there was no panic in me. There was a calm assurance that God would take care of us. I had no doubt. MERCY.
My doctor was amazed. Usually, before someone is diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, they have experienced severe back problems, ruptured disks, bone pain, maybe kidney problems or even dialysis. all things things before the diagnosis. I had none of these. MERCY. In fact, I felt quite healthy. MERCY. But a bone marrow biopsy would be the final test to make sure. That showed my blood was 63% cancer cells! Stage 2 out of 3, bordering on 3. God revealed it just in time. MERCY.
I chose the University of Iowa for treatment because their long term remission rates were much higher than anyone else in the country, only 3 hours away. MERCY. My daughter lives within 15 minutes of the hospital so my wife had a place to stay when we were down there. MERCY. I would be undergoing two stem cell transplants in the next 4 months. Very vigorous treatment for long lasting results. My good health allowed this. MERCY.
The harvest went well in May as they sued my own stem cells, and in June of 2016 I had the first stem cell transplant. A week after the transplant I woke up one morning and my right shoulder would not work ( I am right handed). It was painful the first couple days, but then the pain went away. MERCY. I thought I had somehow re-injured my shoulder from some tears I had 5 years earlier, so we tied physical therapy. No pain. My arm worked from the elbow down, but nothing from the shoulder.
We left he hospital and came home in that condition. But through the summer we ran some tests and it was determined I had Parsonage-Turner Syndrome. No known cause, no known cure. The interesting thing is that only 12% of sufferers have no pain, and I was one of them. MERCY. During this time, The Lord started giving me poetry again – lots of poetry, and I started these blogs on WordPress. Daily he would give me words to share. MERCY.
The summer went well and I went in for the second transplant in September. Much harder this time, I was very weak when I came home and slept in the living room on the main floor for 6 months. God led me to start a study in Psalms on this blog, and that would take me over a year to finish. A year of intense reflection on the Psalms will change a persons perspective, and it certainly did mine. MERCY.
I am going to stop there, except to say I never had any pain through this whole thing. MERCY. I never had mouth sores from the chemo. MERCY. I never had any bone pain from the Myeloma, which it is common to have. MERCY. I had one fall but it was limited in damage. MERCY. My shoulder is almost fully restored when they said it would most likely be at least 2 years before it came back, and then would most likely be very limited. MERCY. All of my medical bills were covered, and my income was replaced by a an Aflac cancer policy I had sold to myself (I am an agent). MERCY. I had prayer warriors all over the world praying for me and there prayers were constantly felt and answered. MERCY.
You can easily see where I am going here. During my trial, I did not focus on the difficulty of the trial, I focused on how good God was being to me – how merciful He was to me over and over again. And this built my faith to a point where I completely trust Him to bring me through anything I may face.
I have rambled on long enough on this post, but I wanted to show you how mercy is so prevalent in our lives before I discussed the double minded man in James. We will get to him next time.