28 Comments

“This Could Be Cancer”

While I have never really been one for making New Year’s Resolutions, God revealed some issues to me over the course of last year that I wanted to address in 2012.  I wanted to make this the year we made better use of our finances, getting rid of debt that kept us from using God’s money right.  I wanted to be a better spiritual leader in our home, getting back to nightly devotions and modeling Christ-likeness to my family.  I wanted to grow more in my walk, not just doing work for work’s sake, but to concentrate my efforts and be more effective in my worship of my Lord and Savior.  So when January 1, 2012 rolled around, that was how I wanted to start the year off.  That lasted about a week, when a curve ball I never saw coming hit me square between the eyes.

On January 4, 2012, I had to do my annual physical for work.  Blood tests, x-rays, hearing exam, the works.  Now for the previous twelve years, all I ever heard bad was, “lower your cholesterol.”  Hey, I like food, this is annual argument we have.  But on January 6, 2012, I got news I had never heard before.  Hilar andenopathy.  That’s what my x-ray showed.  In plain speak, what that meant that lymph nodes (you know those things that swell up when you get sick) in my lungs were enlarged.  What followed were two CT scans, an HIV test, a pulmonary functions test, and PET scan (they shoot radioactive sugar in and make you lie real still while they CT scan you for 30 minutes) and, ultimately, a surgical biopsy.  For two months of my life, this was a nerve wracking series of events.

Now let me back up and explain a little bit.  I have been working at my job for 13 years.  Annual physicals are just part of the mind numbing routine of it.  In fact, when I hit the 13 years mark, and realized I had another 12 to go before I could even think of retiring, I actually got mildly depressed.  So much for starting my years right, I was already whining at God’s provision of a stable job, but I digress.

When I got the phone call and started my series of tests, the one thing I kept getting told was that this was probably “nothing” but they had to check it out.  See enlarged lymph nodes can actually be a form of cancer called lymphoma.  While the success rate of healing lymphoma is very good, it involves chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments.  With each test, confirmation came back that something was going on in those nodes in my chest.  What that was just wasn’t clear yet.  When they conducted the PET scan, those lymph nodes light up like Christmas lights.  That was when things started to get scary.  Now I had to schedule a surgical biopsy.  That was the only thing that would really tell us what was going on.

And while all this was going on, I still had a job I wasn’t crazy about to do.  I had a wife and two kids that I have to take care of and be the leader in the home for.  I had a house to maintain, I had Sunday School lessons to prepare and teach.  Oh, and to top the matter off, our oven decided it didn’t feel like working anymore.  It just quit.  No warning, no threat of strike if demands weren’t met, it just quit.  On that night, I sent out an APB to every prayer warrior I could think of, because the proverbial straw nearly killed that camel!

Now, before this sound like a rant of how bad my life is, I want to explain, I’m not writing this to gain sympathy.  I actually hope that this will be an encouragement to those who read it.  Encouragement?  Seriously, you’re trying to encourage us???  Yes, because in the midst of all this, especially when the oven broke down, I learned something.  God is sovereign over all things!  So often, if you’re are anything like me, we view the good things in our life as if they are God’s reward for being good little Christians.  But we are prone to viewing the bad things as if God blinked for a second, or just wasn’t paying attention at that time.  We look at God and say “Why???”  That was what I was tempted to say when that oven quit.  That was also why I asked my friends for immediate prayer.

See, if God is sovereign over everything, then He is responsible for both the good and the bad that happens in our lives.  We can’t get out of this.  If He isn’t responsible for both, then He is not all powerful, not all knowing.  If we try to blame it on circumstances, or blind luck, then we rob God of His character.  And before you say, “Let’s blame it on Satan,” remember that he had to get God’s permission before he afflicted Job.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, happens to us without God allowing, causing or ordaining it.  And, like Job, our job is not to question why.  God allows suffering for a great many reasons, but ultimately it is for His glory and for good.  That was what I learned.  God had chosen this time in my life, a time when I was readying myself, and my family, to walk closer with Him, to bring a time of suffering.  If He had chosen that for me, who am I to tell Him no?  He is the Potter, I am the clay.  If the Potter was choosing to cause me to have cancer, that I was going to praise His name, no matter how scared I was.

On February 10, 2012, I was rolled into surgery.  They cut me open, rooted around with a fancy stick, and pulled out little lumps of lymph nodes.  I woke up later feeling like I had been strangled and kicked in the chest at the same time.  If you ever feel like getting a mediastinoscopy for fun, don’t, it really didn’t feel good.  For the next week, I either spent my time sleeping off pain meds, or doing very little at work thanks to being on light duty.  But on February 16, I got to learn what my fate was.

I would love to say that I sat in the doctor’s office completely calm and confident in the Lord.  But the truth was, I was pacing like a caged animal trying to will him to come in faster.  I desperately wanted to know what the diagnosis was going to be.  Yet, within that mild panic was the sense that, no matter the diagnosis, God was there.  Whatever words departed the doctor’s lips were ordained by Him.  Cancer or not, chemotherapy or not, God was in complete control.  I felt that I would march boldly forward into whatever came next.  Would I be scared?  Undoubtedly.  But in that fear, I would cling to the cross of Christ, for my hope was not in doctors and medicine.  It was not in good or bad health.  It was in the risen Savior who had died on the cross for my sins.  I could have joy in the midst of suffering, not because I like suffering, but because my hope was not in the things of this life.  I have joy because of the sure promise I have in the life to come.  Cancer or not, I was saved by Jesus Christ.  That would never change.  All God was doing in allowing this light affliction was tempering his clay pot into the mold He intended.

By God’s grace, the doctor shared the words I was desperate to hear, “It’s not cancer.”  The weight that fell from my shoulders that day was amazing.  Knowing that you could be facing a debilitating disease is overwhelming.  Yet, I learned there were still issues to face.  I now know I have Sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease.  It can trigger immune responses in the body for reasons as yet unknown.  There are virtually no places in your body it cannot affect.  However, most often it remains in those pesky chest area lymph nodes.  And in many cases, goes away on its own.  But that is not a guarantee.  I may yet have to take steroid pills to treat this aliment, and there could be side effects from that.  But, as I learned through this, if that is what God has chosen for me, then I will praise His name.  I will have joy in knowing that while I may suffer here, there is a time coming when there will be no suffering, no sadness, no depression and no tears.  Only a constant praising of the One who saved me.

If you are a Christian, you are going to face times of suffering, God’s word promises that.  But, unlike the rest of the world, you have a sure promise.  A promise that one day, you will stand face to face with your Savior and enjoy Him forever.  In the meantime, that suffering you endure here is the Potter shaping and molding you for His purposes.  Please do not fight Him, rather yield to His pressures.  In the end, you will find that what He has done is to make you a useful tool in His kingdom, to be used for His glory.

About Chris Hohnholz

Born again believer in Jesus Christ • Co-Host, Producer, All Around Gofer Monkey at Cross Encounters Radio

28 comments on ““This Could Be Cancer”

  1. Beautiful. I needed that.

  2. Normally, when I see long posts like this, I’ll either skip it, or read it section by section.

    This was too engaging for that, I had to read it all at once.

    In reading it, I am reminded of Paul and Silas in prison, how, after everthing that took place, it says
    in verse 40, “…when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them…”

    Also, we are all guilty of eating for taste, rather than health. If you don’t know it, sugar feeds cancer. I know of people who had cancer, and one of the first things they are told by their doctor is to quit having sugar.

    Also, there are many websites by people who had cancer, fought it nutrionally, and years later, they are alive and cancer free.

    I’m fighting kidney problems right now, and trust, by eating correctly, the problem will go.

    As it is, we look to God and give Him glory, come what may.
    God bless.

  3. Thank you for a really encouraging testimony.

  4. God moves in a mysterious way
    His wonders to perform;
    He plants His footsteps in the sea
    And rides upon the storm.

    Deep in unfathomable mines
    Of never failing skill
    He treasures up His bright designs
    And works His sovereign will.

    Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
    The clouds ye so much dread
    Are big with mercy and shall break
    In blessings on your head.

    Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
    But trust Him for His grace;
    Behind a frowning providence
    He hides a smiling face.

    His purposes will ripen fast,
    Unfolding every hour;
    The bud may have a bitter taste,
    But sweet will be the flower.

    Blind unbelief is sure to err
    And scan His work in vain;
    God is His own interpreter,
    And He will make it plain.

    Todd
    Texas

  5. Amen and amen, my brother. ‘Tis a hard lesson to learn, what the Lord clearly spelled out for us in Job (and other places – such as Ruth, Daniel, Genesis, Revelation 6 …). Yet we are slow learners. In our good and bad – our God is sovereign. Let the redeemed praise His name!

  6. I can relate. In April 2011, I was told I had a very rare cancer called carcinoid. Its a very slow grower that attacks the small intestines and liver. With Gods grace, my wife and I never questioned God. After my wife showed me errors I was involved in, in a very charismatic atmosphere, my first thought would have been…”okay, God can heal this, I’ll get the prayer from all the biggies” But no, God gave us a peace that passes our understanding. Even though this cancer is incurable, it is treatable. We’ve prayed all along, with support from our local church, that Gods will be done. I have no doubt, God could have healed me instantly. My wife looked for doctors that specialized in carcinoid cancer, and we chose to go from San Diego to New Orleans for the surgery. God saw fit to supply our needs through brothers and sisters. Last September, I went in surgery for 8 hours. The debulked me, removing 3 feet of my small intestine, performed a bowel resection and removed my gallbladder. A medicine I need caused gallstones, so the team removed the gallbladder. Oh by the way, around 90 tumors were discovered and taken out. Our prayer in this experience was that God would be glorified. Now 5 months later after undergoing monthly tests and endless appointments, I have to see a liver specialist because there are 3 tumors the doctors were not able to tackle because of how deep they are. The symtoms of this cancer are nasty so no detail needed. I have an appointment on March 12 to see a liver specialist, and now we should be able to attack the tumors on my liver. It may be a procedure called chemoembolization. Our trust is in Him, and He gets all the glory. We praise God every day for meeting our needs and seeing us through each day. This was the short version of a very long story. Oh by the way, for those of you familiar with the late Steve Jobs, he had carcinoid cancer, but never went to a specialist. Hard to believe because he could have gone to the best carcinoid surgeon. He chose the best surgeon he could get. He allowed a regular oncologist make the call, hence the surgery when he should have sought a specialist. I believe his tumors got in his pancreas, but if he went to a specialist upon finding out, he may still be alive.

  7. Chris, Doreen, Jim:

    Thank you for sharing your testimonies, and giving God the glory through it all. We certainly need to compassionately care for our brothers and sisters, upholding one another in prayer, because many of us, or our spouses or family members, have serious or terminal illnesses. Looking forward to that glorious day when we receive new bodies that will never know pain, sickness or decay.

  8. What was the prognosis for a man sleeping with hungry lions? Or the prognosis of 3 young men living to tell of being thrown in to a fire so hot that the men throwing them in would die from doing it?
    Now, what would they have learned of their Lord, had He spared them from the walk they were to walk? My wife is a 2 time breast cancer survivor, and calls those events “Spiritual Growth Spurts” for we prayed, “You already know our will, Lord, but we pray Your Will be done in us.” We too had 2 small children at the time.
    Last year our youngest, at 13 had to have brain surgery. The problem being found due to short intense head pains that would stop him in his tracks. At age 13 and 6’2″ this was tough news on a young man who likes football…which is now no longer an option for him. The surgery was a success, as it corrected the congenital problem that could have resulted in paralysis or death, yet the headaches remain. They, in checking the surgery results found also a small benign tumor in the middle of the brain which is inoperable, and could one day be a problem, but is not the cause of his headache/pains. He knows the Lord, and prays our same prayer.
    Friends think we are crazy and should somehow have more “faith” so that God can act on our behalf and spare us the “firey trials.”
    In the past year and a half I have been on prednisone, plus other steroid shots for a skin condition that can result in nightly intense itching, think of poison ivy everywhere, plus skin eruptions. After insisting they let me do allergy testing, I found out that at age 50+ one can get suddenly allergic to what amounts to 6 pamphlets of things I am allergic to! (Some former friends who no longer prefer to know us, think it is devine retribution for our lack of faith) The worst are elastic, leather, rubber, cinnamon, cloves, SKIN CREAM INGREDIANTS!!!, mouth wash, tooth paste, chapstick (which should be considered a drug due to it being so addictive, like coffee mate, LOL) and COBALT!!! Cobalt?!?! What on earth is Cobalt? Lowes Tools?!?! NNNOOOO!!!
    Cobalt is the central part of vitamin B12, which is everything I like to eat, like meat, fish, eggs, dairy…So now I am a spice limited vegan! (Did I mention I like hunting and fishing?)
    Any ways, as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord, like all of you…Give me the fiery trials over the colloseum seats every time Lord, for it is in the trials that I move from the good seats of knowing about You, to the hot seat of knowing You truly as Lord!

    Thanks for sharing, brother, and be encouraged in you walk even as you seek to encourage others through your trials!

    Mickey (the vegetable hunter, and fisher of men!)

  9. Awesome Mickey, I know of another Mickey who played professional baseball and lived in the world as a “hero” when in reality he was an alcoholic. I believe it was when “the Mick” was on his deathbed, he called a former team mate who shared the gospel and about the real Hero. Mickey repented, then died days after.
    I never thought fiery trials would hit us as they do, some just seem hotter dont they Mick? Chris? Mick, we know its not a lack of faith. Our former friends may think so, but our faith is strengthened as we walk through the fire.
    Blessings to you and your family brother

    Jim

  10. Thanks Jim!
    As far as the blessing go, we have everything God could ever give us, thus every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. That includes the blessing of brothers and sisters in the Lord such as you friend.
    Again, thanks;
    Mickey Merrie

    Ps: I used to play a little baseball too! Was known as a left handed power hitter. LOL
    When I showed my glove (outfield) and mitt (first base) to my son and explained the mitt I got from Al Oliver and the glove from Kirk Gibson, he remarked, “Who were they?” LOL
    No, I never played professionally but had a couple of friends in the minor leagues and they got the gear for me from the guys at spring training…probably for beer money.

  11. Isaiah 45:3 I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.

    So so precious Mr. Jim what God taught you in knowing HIM in ways you would have never known if he did not permit this to happen to you…that’s moving from fear to faith in the Lord your solid ROCK

    you’re truly blessed and so loved by the Lord.

  12. Thank you Linda….thank you for that scripture. but cant say that fear sure tried to grip us, I guess the slippery oil of the Holy Spirit made fear lose its grip. Believe me, Im sure Chris and Mickey have sure had their moments. But we always knew Who was in charge of our lives, ask my wife,,,,sometimes its scary, but we go to our Rock, whos amazing grace has pulled us out of the mire of this world and the second death.
    Mickey, grew up on Long Island so I often went to the stadium where the dimensions were 457 ft in left center and saw saw the likes of Mantle, Maris, Mays, Banks, Oliver, not sure if I saw Gibson but the names I mentioned reveals my age huh? Gibson, one of the greatest “gotcha” baseball moments. Sounds like we would enjoy some trivia talk. Too bad what used to be a sport is now a business.

  13. Jim,
    To be honest, once we began praying His will be done, we sleep like babies. Honest!
    Sports became business just like the churches did…Sad
    I watch little sports myself in the past dozen years or so. No TV in the house except in the corner of the basement with no cable tv attached. But in our living room we listen to the Word of Promise bible on CD.
    I am it appears getting more pecular all the time! LOL

    Oh, Jim by the way, don’t forget the other Mickey on the Yankee’s…Mickey Rivers!

  14. Thank you for this encouraging article and the much needed reminder to trust God at all times.

    Prayer in times of chastening and trial:

    “Lord Jesus, you’re my Protector, and I believe
    you rule over the events of my life. If anything happens to me, it’s only because you allowed it, and I trust your purpose in doing it. Help me
    understand the lesson you want me to learn from it. If I walk in righteousness and have your joy in my heart, then my living and dying will bring glory to you. I trust that you may have some prepared glory, some eternal purpose that
    my finite mind doesn’t understand. But either way, I’ll say, ‘Jesus, whether I live or die, I am yours!’”

    David Wilkerson

  15. Thank you all for your beautiful witness. I am going through *extreme* trials that seem to never end. Anyway I’ve come to the conclusion that this is not my home. I can’t say I don’t dream of Him returning and making all things right. I do long for the day He rules as King in Jerusalem. Maranatha!

  16. Amen Suelizi, I know its cliche, but hang in there. Its worth it. We are not of this world. Jesus is with you every step of the way.
    Shalom

  17. God bless you Jim. Shalom back. We should start a support group. LOL. ;)

  18. Pro 18:10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.

    Pro 3:3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.

  19. I am humbled by these comments as I have been struggling under my ongoing never ending trials which incidently are not health related. As you’ve all said God is Sovereign and like Suze I daily pray for the return of my Lord Jesus or to be taken home, yet it will be in His timing and bear up I will because He gives me the daily strength and hope to keep going, one day at a time. God bless and strengthen each and every one of you daily.

  20. God bless Jacque. It’s so good to be among family. My brothers and sisters.

  21. “Would I be scared? Undoubtedly. But in that fear, I would cling to the cross of Christ, for my hope was not in doctors and medicine. It was not in good or bad health. It was in the risen Savior who had died on the cross for my sins. I could have joy in the midst of suffering, not because I like suffering, but because my hope was not in the things of this life.”

    Probably the best and most encouraging thing I have read on this site. God bless you brother!

  22. In June of ’09, at age 63, I was diagnosed with incurable blood cancer. As a Christian for 35 yrs., It rocked my world big time (and my wife’s as well)! Now, two and a half years later, I can say that other than my salvation in our dear Lord Jesus Christ, this may have been the biggest blessing I’ve ever received. As Spurgeon said, “trials drive us to his side” and which one of us doesn’t need a KICK IN THE PANTS!
    Chris, I’m thankful for your good report and I’m thankful as well that I’m on a maintenance drug that is giving me a new lease on life!
    To God be the Glory!

  23. Rev Limiter,

    There are so few “men of God” these days. Sometimes we our told our faith isnt strong enough, or that we are being punished for sin(s) in our life.

    Ive seen the gospel in action through not only my former pastor and church family from WV, but people we dont even know, or people who are in cults will come through, of course I know God is using them, to help us with finances especially.

    My wife and I thank God every day, but our hearts ache for those who do help that do not know our Jesus.

    Now living on the west coast, it has been difficult to find a church that does the Word. Our former pastor does send his messages and we talk every few weeks. We will be moving again after my treatment(s) on my liver to be closer to my wifes kids who are living in this world. We pray for them every day, and now I hope to be used as a positve male role model in their lives. Please keep us (jim and Debbie) in your prayers. We just ask that God will provide us where to live and in His timing.

    To all who have responded to this post by Chris, God bless you and may He continue to walk you through your trials.

    In His love, Jim

  24. I am so blessed and encouraged by this thread. Thank you all so much.

    In Him
    Sue

  25. Jim;
    I will be praying for you, as will my family. We live in Pa. and not far from you folks really.
    Two very good sources of witness tools are the bible on CD and the Bethleham star. Both can be gotten at this site via this link. Now I know funds are short for you right now, so please email me at he.must_increase@roadrunner.com and perhaps we can correspond.
    Your brother;
    Mickey
    ___________________________________________

    Oops! Here are the links:

    http://www.bethlehemstar.net/

    http://www.seizoom.com/Product.aspx?PId=2208e6e8-4e5d-4c19-8b99-96c12258b51b

    The bible on CD is something folks can listen to and cover ground that they might not want to with reading. The Bethleham Star video uses astronomy software to go back in time to see what was going on in the heavens when Christ was born, and when He was crucified. Even athiests like Pete who lurks here would be appreciative, since he needs physical proof of God!

  26. What a blessing to hear how God has used this article to bless and encourage you all! Thank you for sharing how God has caused you grow thru trials and sufferings!

  27. Jim:
    Adding you and Debbie to my list! Keep looking up!

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