I don't understand Cancer -

"To all the wonders God will do, imagination's blind.
What He has made, He'll make anew, in the twinkling of an eye!
For death itself will be destroyed, swallowed up by life.
Because He is risen, with Him we will rise. We will rise." 
~ Dave Fournier (SGM 2011) ~

Today I received news that Jamie's friend passed away from a long battle with an aggressive cancer. I mentioned Craig in my last post. I'm so, so glad that he is whole and well and cancer free now. But I felt that infamous grief kick me in the gut and the tears have been streaming down my face for 30 minutes now. I've been praying for Craig ever since Jamie mentioned him after my "Grief & Love" post. I've been aching for healing for him, I've been begging for peace and comfort for him and his family, I've been asking for grace to meet them in unexpected places, and for rest to be easy. 

I'm constantly amazed how God brings total strangers and makes them feel like friends just because you pray for them. I've felt that for years for so many people I've never met, and Craig will go on that list. I know his family will probably never read this - but please, please keep them in your prayers. 

Last week found me 70 feet above a river, pounding out a rhythm of hope and ache and prayers for everyone with cancer on a bridge that faces towards the sea. Praying for Craig, for Kara, for the families I love where cancer has struck. Hurt and trust and fear mixed into these sentences:

I know how to manually expose a camera without even looking to adjust a photo while I take it -
but I don't understand cancer. 

I know how to swim with rip currents and I know how to survive my share of tumbles in waves - 
but I don't understand cancer. 

I know how orbiters and rockets take off and what it takes them to shoot from earth to space -
but I don't understand cancer. 

I know how to breathe deep and stop to think when I'm in a dangerous situation - 
but I don't understand cancer. 

I know how to dive into deep topics and bypass all sorts of "social rules" and just hug a stranger - 
but I don't understand cancer. 

I know how to put my thoughts into words and words into posts and journals and stories - 
but I don't understand cancer. 

I know how flats form and sharps meet and those chords strike that note that moves your heart in music - but I don't understand cancer. 

I know how to survive funerals and I know how they work and what loss feels like - 
but I don't understand cancer. 

I know how to trim trees, and I know how to paint the right way, thanks to my Daddy.
I know how to drive well and how to survive hydroplaning on a highway.
I know how to walk on trusses through an attic, walk on scaffolding and hang upside down with a flashlight.
I know how the waves of the sea move and can listen for breaks with my eyes closed. 
I understand and know these things and more.....but not cancer. And not death. 

Not why God takes some so young. Not why cancer seems to be given to the mighty, the special, the rare that make you want to be more than who you are. Not why cancer comes back after it was gone for so long, or why treatments fail.

I don't have any wise words about cancer, and I never will. I don't understand it, and I never will.

Yet God has never asked me to understand, and He has never asked me to try to figure it out. He is never frustrated with all of my questions and tears. He is patient with me, as a kind, loving Heavenly Father. Things do not change just because I question this reality. His loving will is still good and perfect and He is for us, no matter how much or little I can understand right now. 

And He does not ask me to wise, but He does call me to rest:
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." ~ Matt. 11:28

He calls me to abide:
"Abide in Me, and I in you." ~ John 15:4

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." ~ Psalm 91:1-3

"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever." ~ Psalm 125:1 

And I know that God has written every single one of our days before we ever were born: 
"Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written,
the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them." ~ Psalm 139:16

Cancer is....unexplainable. Heartbreaking. Terrible. Striking to the heart of those we know. Cancer doesn't get little happy stickers and sweet endings and Pinterest quotes that make it all better.
Cancer rips away life in the worst way of dying.

But God gives life, and more than this life in one single leap - He gives LIFE everlasting. 

And oh, right now, walking through pain is realizing we are not seeing this through the light of Eternity. It is not what we SEE, but what we KNOW. One day, we will SEE. We must trust and wait. 

 Cancer has a way of instantly reminding you of everyone you've ever lost to it, and it's an unwelcome tide of emotions. I didn't do a very good job of riding that today, but I am so thankful that because my God has gone before us in all things, in every way that He could ever take us to be with Him, He has prepared with His love and grace to meet us.....that because of Christ and His mercy, I don't NEED to understand at all. 

Because at the end of the day: Cancer or Healing. Life or Death. Earth or Heaven .... God wins. 

"I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings." ~ Psalm 61:4

With much love always,
~ Jean Marie ~ 


  1. :(

    You really do have a way with words, my dear. I have nothing to add.

    Love you deeply.

  2. Sweet sweet Jemmie-

    I've been a faithful reader of your blog for many a year- so long that I feel I know you, and forget that you don 't know me. I laugh and cry in turns as I read your posts, my heart aching or rejoicing with yours. Unfortunately in this rush-rush world of ours, I don't think I've ever taken the time to comment.

    Shame on me.

    But I had to make time to comment on this post, because cancer? I understand it. I understand the pain and terror, the nightmares and toxic fluids dripping orange into the chest. I understand the fog and chains that never lift- not even when NED is spoken. It's always there like a haunting shadow, because it can return when you least expect it.

    You see, my brother has fought two battles with a very rare and aggressive cancer. I know the metallic smell of the cancer ward. I've had my fair share of nightmares and panic attacks and grief when you can't do anything but sit there and look stupid because all of you has shut down-overwhelmed and unable to process it all.

    But there's something a friend shared with me this week that made this cancer journey make sense, just a little, like the stars when they first dare to shine in the velvet sky. It's a quote byFrances Chan: "The point is not to completely understand God but to worship Him. Let the very fact that you cannot know Him fully lead you to praise Him for His infiniteness and grandeur."

    It's hard eucharisteo. But you find grace there in the hard places. Beauty in the rawness.

    I just felt impressed to share that quote with you today. We may be kindred spirits from afar. :)

    From one red-head lassie to another,


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