While We Journey On


the-death-walk-el-camino-del-rey-spain-1Elise Hancock[1] tells this story:

This farmer had only one horse, and one day the horse ran away. The neighbours came to condole over his terrible loss. The farmer said, “What makes you think it is so terrible?

A month later, the horse came home–this time bringing with her two beautiful wild horses. The neighbours became excited at the farmer’s good fortune. Such lovely strong horses! The farmer said, “What makes you think this is good fortune?”

The farmer’s son was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke his leg. All the neighbours were very distressed. Such bad luck! The farmer said, “What makes you think it is bad?

A war came, and every able-bodied man was conscripted and sent into battle. Only the farmer’s son, because he had a broken leg, remained. The neighbours congratulated the farmer. “What makes you think this is good?” said the farmer.

The moral of the story varies, depending on which version you read. However, Richard E. Nisbett[2], adds the following little bit of useful perspective:

When Communist era Premier Chou En-Lai was asked whether or not the French revolution was good or bad, his response was “It’s too early to tell.

This week Claudette had a two-day stay in the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, during which time, the gynae oncologist surgeon did a physical exam to ascertain whether the 3 rounds of chemo worked. When he visited us on Thursday afternoon to communicate the results we were both emotionally very fragile. The verdict: the tumour shrunk by 50% and therefore responded well to the 3 rounds of chemo. We both thought ‘This is good fortune!’ and asked the surgeon if that is the case. Did it warrant celebration? He replied: ‘It’s too early to tell!’ The radical operation scheduled for the 13th May is going ahead, he explained, however, if it has spread in the lymph nodes, that is another story. Afterwards, follows local radio therapy (to destroy any traces of the tumour, where it originally resided) and many more rounds of chemo therapy to fight the cancerous cells on a microscopic level, wherever they might have migrated. And from past experience we know about the pernicious nature of this particular type of cancer and how it metastasizes in distant places (liver, spine and brain) in a very short period of time.

In our attempt to have him proclaim ‘This is good fortune!’ and be able to put together a mental flow chart of what is to come, we enquired how certain he was that what we are doing will work. His answer was more precise than before: ‘In 20 years of practice, I saw fewer than half a dozen people with your condition. All I can tell you is that we managed to save some.’ In other words, ‘It’s too early to tell!

So here we are today, not able to hide the spring in our step, nor the silent confidence which stems from interpreting phase 1 as good fortune. Perhaps we wouldn’t tell the truth if we didn’t admit that we looked at it as an answer to the many prayers raised on our behalf and thanked God for the way in which He used medical science, professionals; those who kindly advised us how to best complement with more natural remedies; not forgetting the encouragement and support received in so many varied practical ways. We are sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good[3]. So far, at least, we can say it with confidence! And for that we are most grateful!

Yes, we know and we temper our excitement – ‘It is too early to tell!’ The entire affair was a humongous scary mountain and in large part it remains the same. However, this week (and the previous three months) have chipped a bit away at the fear, which accompanied us in this climb.

Along the way, kind people prepared meals for us to lighten the load, generous folk allowed us to move into their house in order to make my work a bit easier and bring us closer to where greater support is available, loving friends packed boxes & moved us, patient individuals watched over Claudette when I was not available to do it, creative folk wrote cards of encouragement and sent generous gifts, precious folk called & texted & Skyped & What’sApp-ed & visited, committed friends decorated our old house. All of you have helped chip away at the fear of uncertainty the verdict of ‘It’s too early to tell!’ brings into our hearts and the lives of so many others.

Some of it still remains and was encapsulated in a statement one of our crying boys made this week: ‘Nothing is the same, daddy! Everything has changed: mom is not well, we left our house, I left my friends at school! Nothing is the same!’ Translation: ‘This is bad! I am scared!’

But, because of what God has accomplished through the professionals and through you all, we have gained a wee bit of sanctified confidence to say to him, and together with those who have walked similar paths before us:

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us — who was raised to life for us! — is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing …. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable — absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.[4]

We know, ‘It’ too early to tell!’ We know that it is difficult to make new friends and get used to living in another house.  But one thing is for sure, Nothing! Nothing! Absolutely Nothing, can get between us and God’s love!

After all, perhaps, this is not so much about conquering the mountain, as it is to learn to trust ever more in the One who will never let go of us, no matter how far we have come!

Now, Lord, give us the courage to face tomorrow in the knowledge that come what may, and even hell itself, even there You will be with us!

Give us grace to understand those who are lost in the threatening woods half way up the scary mountain!

Give us the opportunity to encourage and support and love as we You and others have done to us!


[1] In the Johns Hopkins Magazine, November 1993, page 2

[2] In “The Geography of Thought, How Asians and Westerners Think Differently…and Why,” NY:Simon and Schuster, 2003, page 13

[3] Romans 8:26-28 (The Message) Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

[4] Romans 8:31-39.


5 comments on “A MILESTONE!

  1. Charlene
    April 24, 2015

    Praise God. He is able.

  2. Skha
    April 24, 2015

    Stand firmly on the promises even things seem tight, hold on even unto His hem.

  3. Rodney and Joy
    April 25, 2015

    When asked His name, God said “I AM” So, I Am able to stand by you, I AM able to heal you, I AM able to sustain you where ever you have to go. Our love and prayers are with you all.

  4. Merwyn Wright
    April 26, 2015

    Praying for you all. God Bless. Love Irene and Merwyn

  5. Michelle Sullivan
    April 28, 2015

    Wow…. you guys are going through a lot… My heart goes out to you…. Praying for you too and especially the darling boy. Claudette and Marcel God is with you and I marvel at His love as He works in the hearts of others to help you…. If we were closer I would have been there to help too. God Bless you and you precious family xx

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