I went in for an ultrasound the other day. It’s a routine exam I get every six months to check my liver for cancer. My liver is pretty compromised, stage four of four stages. My doc explained to me that the liver can sustain a great deal of damage and still function. Thankfully my liver has been stable, even though its in an end stage in many respects, it hasn’t started to fail. She can’t tell me how long this balance will last, and if it does start to fail failure happens quickly. If they don’t find me a suitable liver and have a successful transplant I could be gone in a matter of weeks.
That’s not even talking about the risks of cancer! My liver has several little nodule “growths” that are common in compromised livers. These nodules can easily start to grow and become cancerous.
So we keep an eye on them.
There is more big bad things that can happen. My spleen is enlarged and I could have a splenic artery rupture, or my spleen could burst. That is one of the reasons I’m not allowed to go on a roller coaster, my body can’t take the G’s. Or then there is the risks of portal hypertension. This is when blood backing up from the liver reaches the esophagus, these veins aren’t made for that kind of blood pressure, being more likely to burst and hemorrhage. When I was pregnant with my daughter this was one of my doctors main fears. She considered me a walking time bomb that could literally hemorrhage to death at any moment. I get upper endoscopy’s every couple years to look at these veins.
This is my reality.
It’s not so bad though. I’m kind of used to it. I’ve had these ominous “risks” hanging over me for more then a decade so they are kind of old news. And honestly I don’t have many symptoms aside from having less energy than those around me. More than that though I trust God with my future, some days I’m better at trusting Him than on others, but I do trust Him. I know He can heal me, that I am in fact healed according to His view. God is outside of time, and since one day I will be healed (even if that is on heavens doorstep) I can remain confident that He has me in His hand. Meanwhile He will do what He wills with my life to bring Him glory in the best way. I can also remain confident that He won’t ask more of me than I can handle. So I choose to trust Him.
Oh and just so you know, my Ultrasound turned out fine, no cancer as of yet.
And that’s what got me thinking. Is that really even fair?
I suppose I should explain a little more of my thought process here. You see in the last several months I’ve seen three people around me affected by cancer.
One, I wrote a blog post earlier about, Andrew Rundle, only nineteen years old, and even at such a young age touching so many lives. He went to Heaven to see Jesus. I believe his life was a total victory over death and was in awe of his story. I’d never met Andrew, but even from that distance his life touched me.
The second is a tiny little baby, baby Jase, so little and with a brain full of tumors. He’s the child of a friend of a friend, and I’ve been keeping track of his story on facebook and keeping him in prayer as he goes through chemo.
The third, Sean Trank, is a personal friend of mine. We were in choir together as teens and have kept touch over facebook. He’s not what I would call a close friend, but he is a friend. He was diagnosed with lung cancer recently. He’s my age, twenty-eight, and from what I know of him has always been at least a decently health conscious guy. He has no obvious risks for cancer.
And here is where I started to wonder how fair this really is. I have every risk for cancer, and yet I’ve been dodging this bullet for almost half my life! He has no real discernible risks, and his cancer is stage 3B, just a step away from terminal.
Why them? Why not me?
On the other hand I could ask if it is at all fair that I have a liver that is “as good as a cheap steak with lots of gristle” when I’ve never had a glass of alcohol in my life. Or lived in a way that would put me at risk for STD’s. I mean that is the usual way you get a liver like mine right? Yet I was diagnosed with stage four liver disease as a fifteen-year-old goody two shoes virgin! How is that fair? When I turned twenty-one I had a mock-alcohol party to make fun of the fact that I was turning twenty-one and couldn’t drink. Not that I had any real desire to anyway. Still, I watch people living lifestyles where alcohol is a normal part of their day, and I wonder how fair it is that they don’t even have to think about the damage they are doing to their livers.
Our society is rather obsessed with what is “fair” and what isn’t. Now a days people seem to even be worried about little kids loosing at games, or not getting picked, or testing a low score, or any manner of “not fair” things. People rant and rave over “fair.” Those who are a bit more adult in their mindset eventually come to the conclusion that “life just isn’t fair.”
But what really is “fair?”
A quick lookup of the word finds the definition: Agreeing with what is thought to be right or acceptable. :Treating people in a way that does not favor some over others. :Not to harsh or critical.
Looking at these three sentences finds quite a bit of leverage on what is fair based on human opinion. But as a Christian our ideas of what is fair, what is right or acceptable, should come from scripture. And honestly when people complain about illnesses or cataclysmic events as unfair we are generally directing out angst at God. So then, the question is, is God fair?
I’m going to take each one of these three sentences and journey through scripture in the coming weeks to explore this question. If you’ve ever asked, “Why me God?” or questioned why God would allow tragedy in the world I encourage you to come on this journey with me.
If you hadn’t read my post about Andrew Rundle you can find it at: He Finished the Race – Dedicated in Memory of Andrew Rundle
If you would like to follow baby Jase’s story and keep him in prayer you can go to: Praying for Jase
If you would like to follow my friend Sean Trank’s story and keep him in prayer you can find it at: Sean Trank Versus Lung Cancer
And also on his blog: seantrank.com
–Update: On July 2nd 2014 Sean Trank went home to be with Jesus. He left behind his family, his wife of about two years, and a legacy of words in his work with Jews for Jesus. He lived a life that was more full than most of us could hope for. I’m thankful that I knew him, even if it was just as teens years ago. I’ll be sure to look him up when I get there. See you later Sean!
–Update: on February 6th 2015 baby Jase also went home to be with Jesus. His life may have been short, but it was still much longer than what the doctors expected, and his story inspired all who knew it. His parents continually seek to honor his memory and ask people to hug your babies a little tighter, and do kind things in his memory. So lets all #Jaseitforward, because every life has impact.
~Joy Aletheia Stevens