I have had my share of being present when bad news was delivered. I was in the hospital with my mother when the doctor told us to call the family, that my father was not going to survive his sudden illness. Susan and I were with her mother in Hackensack Hospital when the doctor told us that her cancer could not be treated and gave her three months to live. She lived only three more weeks. There have been countless other times where the news was devastating, piercing the heart and soul. And there was nothing I could do…that anyone could do. The fate had been sealed and the story written. All I could do was resign myself to the inevitability of the diagnosis or some other bad news, cry some tears and pray, a lot.
But there are times…not nearly enough, when one is present when the “good news” is delivered. They are the moments that you cherish…that help you through the bad news times. Susan and I had one of those good news moments today when we were visiting with Mike and Alieda Hickey. Mike was diagnosed with melanoma a few weeks ago and last Friday had surgery to remove the cancer. Because the melanoma had grown deep into the skin the fear all week has been that the cancer had spread beyond the infected spot into the lymph nodes. It would be a week to ten days before the doctors knew what they were dealing with. As anyone knows, waiting is the hardest part and for Mike, his family and friends, this waiting was excruciating. People can deal better with things when they know what they are facing, but when it is unknown, unpredictable and uncontrollable, it can cause a great amount of anxiety and frustration. Mike just wanted to know what he was dealing with.
We love Mike. Everyone does. He is a great husband and father, a great friend and spiritual leader. God has placed his hand on him and Mike not only has a gift of preaching and teaching but has a true shepherd’s heart. To see him go through this waiting and wondering, to see him have to deal with a diagnosis of cancer, has been difficult. He and Alieda showed great faith and trust in the Lord because they know that every part of their lives is in His good hands.
While we were visiting with the family Mike received a call from his doctor. The first thought always seems to be negative (why is that?) and our thoughts automatically go to what could be wrong. But I could hear in Mike’s voice this was not a bad news scenario. He got off the phone and with great relief and emotion declared: “I am cancer free”. He repeated it several times, almost as if he needed to keep saying it to believe it. CANCER FREE! What sweet words, what sweet music to our ears. There were hugs and tears and words of praise and thanksgiving to God our Savior, our Helper, our Deliverer. Mike quoted to us from a Psalm he recently memorized, Psalm 63:1-8:
1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.
3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.
As Mike stated we rest, even sing, while under the caring wings of our heavenly father. This is true whether we receive “bad news” or “good news.” The “news” does not change who God is. He is still the king of all the universe, still in control, still our help. He is our hope in the darkness as well as in the light. He is good in the days of of sun and days of rain…and snow. He never changes, only our circumstances do. As David writes: “Your love is better than life.”
We thank God for Mike’s good news, for this answer to our prayers. . We felt privileged and blessed to be there and share the good news with the Hickey family. I know God uses everything, but I think I will take “good news” over “bad news” any day.
What do you think?
How does this make you feel?