When I was a kid we had a VCR that had a quirk. When you put a tape in, it would automatically eject it. Push the tape in, out it would pop. The way to get it to quit was to slam your palm down on the top. The slap would reset something internally and the next time you pushed the tape in it would hold.
I feel a bit like this old VCR. My brain has developed an auto eject function. It’s because my aunt has breast cancer. This piece of information won’t stay put. The fact that her surgery is in the morning is like a palm down slap on my mind. I’m alternating between sighing and praying. I’m a big sigher. My mom is too. My sister sighs. My aunt sighs. When we heard the news, it wasn’t huge quantities of tears that came forth. It was deep and long sighs. Cancer? Again? Really?
I was a flower girl in Aunt Gini’s wedding. Two years old. Big yellow dress. She had long gorgeous dark hair. A picture of the two of us sits on a bookshelf in my bedroom. People tell me we look a bit alike. I can’t think of a better compliment.
Gini is the kind of person who makes you smile. She sews and bakes and crafts and laughs. She signs cards with lots of xxx and ooos and her signature line always says I love you and I like you. Sometimes she adds that she likes you better than M&Ms. This is serious.
When people ask me about my personal faith, I talk about growing up with wise, compassionate and hilarious parents. Great church. Lots of friends. Serious doubts about God in college. Then I talk about Gini’s story. Within the same year her daughter and her husband both fought and lost fights to cancer. My aunt’s faith held strong. She says that if she’d have given up on God she’d have nothing left. He’s who carried her. I watched her in those days and my faith was bolstered.
CS Lewis, as usual, said it best –
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” — C.S. Lewis
I know people who say “How can a loving God allow bad things to happen”. There are big complicated answers to that question all about sin and redemption and free will and those conversations are for another day. I have a simple answer for you today. The sermon on Sunday was timely.
Our pastor said that God’s crazy in love with us.
He said that our circumstances aren’t what show it.
The cross is what shows it.
Get it? It’s not cancer that wins. Evil and darkness and pain all lose. Christ made a way. Heaven wins.
My aunt knows this. Tomorrow morning the family will gather around. We’ll hold hands and we’ll pray. We’ll pray for the surgeons, for the treatment and for healing. We’ll pray that God will carry the details and the pain.
It’s not the only thing we’ll pray though. Our lives are like the VCR. We all tell a story. We’ll pray that those that are watching now will see Christ.