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What Paul Taught Me About Pain

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

My cancer is growing. How fast, I cannot say, but it is more difficult now than it was last week, both in what I can do and in terms of pain. I won't dwell on that here, except that it has brought unexpected blessings of perception, perhaps a few insights. That verse from Paul was one I thought I understood, but I have a different take on it now. Obviously, I have no idea what Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was, although I cannot help but consider my similarity when I feel a jab in my side, unexpected and sharp. I imagine Paul thinking from time to time, that maybe he has gotten past the problem, when suddenly he feels it again, maybe when he tries to sleep, maybe while eating, but a nasty reminder that he is never free from it. It seems quite apt to call such a thing a "messenger from Satan, to torment".

But maybe it's not quite the same for me. Where Paul calls his pain a messenger from Satan, I believe mine is a reminder from God. I am reminded that we all must die one day, that all sorts of things we might think are important are really just vanity and selfish pursuits. I am reminded that many people are in pain, sometimes temporary and sometimes permanent, sometimes minor and sometimes a torment, sometimes it seems just part of life which we all must face, and sometimes a singular injustice we did nothing to deserve. On the one hand, I sometimes complain that every time I seem to start getting things to go well in my life, something seems to happen which ruins it all. On the other hand, I have seen children with cancer, and people who found out too late to do anything but wait for death, and I am ashamed of my own complaint. Sometimes I feel that I do not receive what I have worked for, that I am cheated of justice and my right reward, but then I see others who have been cheated to a greater degree, and for much longer, and again I am silenced by that rebuke.

I think about things, especially at night when I am having trouble getting sleep. I realize that I live for a purpose, and I want very badly not to screw up the things that matter. I do not just desire to be a good husband and father, I need to be the best husband and father that I can possibly be. I do not simply want to live in service to God and as a witness to His love, I need to do so. I do not simply wish to help people understand what hope and joy and peace are really like, I need to do my best to help people find those things if they desire them.

Even if I beat this thing, I am aware that the clock is running.

Painfully aware.


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Comments (26)

Your final paragraph eloque... (Below threshold)

Your final paragraph eloquently describes our human condition. I pray for your recovery, Mr. Drummond. We both desire nothing so much as that His will be done in our lives.

Dod bless you D.J. My praye... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

Dod bless you D.J. My prayers are with you.

H

DJ,You will be in my... (Below threshold)

DJ,
You will be in my prayers. You sound like a very special person and you are an inspiration to those of us lucky enough to read your post today.

If you have the time and in... (Below threshold)
DL From Heidelberg:

If you have the time and inclination, read "Love, Medicine, and Miracles" by cancer surgeon Dr. Bernie Siegel. The title may be misleading. It's about realizing that no matter what our state of health, our days are numbered, and making the decisions about what we want to do with however much time we have left. Cancer patients, for obvious reasons, understand that message better than most. As a cancer survivor (three operations, five months of chemo, one month of radiation) the book played an enormous part in my understanding of with what was in fact, a blessing.

Thank you, DJ, for a courag... (Below threshold)

Thank you, DJ, for a courageous post about your illness, your heart, and your God. Frankly, I never would have imagined such a post here at WizBang (a blog I check frequently every day). I am blessed and encouraged by your post. As you walk through this valley, keep close to the Shepherd . . . and goodness and mercy will surely follow you always.

I'm honored that you've cho... (Below threshold)
groucho:

I'm honored that you've chosen to share your thoughts and feelings during this difficult time. May the encouragement of all lighten your burden. The best to you and your family. You are truly courageous indeed.

My family is praying for yo... (Below threshold)
Amy:

My family is praying for you sir. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

Beautiful post, DJ. Please ... (Below threshold)

Beautiful post, DJ. Please know that my husband and I are praying for your recovery.

I will pray for you and you... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

I will pray for you and your family. You are couragous, strong and a child of God. ww

DJ, I didn't know you were ... (Below threshold)
The Anchoress:

DJ, I didn't know you were going through this - I had no idea. Please know you will be in my prayers, daily.

DJ,I became aware ... (Below threshold)
Diane:

DJ,

I became aware of the WIZBANG website because of you and Lorie Byrd. Your frequent posts at Polipundit were eloquently written with valid points--much worth following you to here.

You have a special gift for writing. What a wonderful tool to share your thoughts, ideas, lessons, and dreams for your children--whether written in a daily journal form or by topic, your children & future grandchildren will cherish your words.

Any of us could leave this earth any day---your situation obviously brings this thought more into focus. The best gift my parents gave me was the security in knowing that I was truly loved. Though I miss them dearly, I know I will always be all right, AND I do not depend on others for my happiness, because I know I have been loved. It was the best gift ever---better than money for college, etc., because I am a secure person. For years, I thought every kid who grew up (especially in a 2-parent family) felt this security---but not so. So love your kids, and let them know they will be OK no matter what.

In the meantime, may God bless you with good health. I have a feeling you have already touched way more lives than you know--having led and leading them to hope, joy & peace!

DJ: You've been in our pray... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

DJ: You've been in our prayers since we first heard ot this. Hang in there, savor each moment with those who care for you.

I will be praying for you D... (Below threshold)
cathy:

I will be praying for you DJ. My father-in-law has Multiple Myeloma and I (maybe) am familar with what you are going through. I have never felt people's prayers until this happened with him. I hope you will and can feel people's prayers for you and I hope you find comfort in this. Thanks for sharing Paul's message and yours. I will continue to remember you in my prayers.

I pray that you can overcom... (Below threshold)
Todd:

I pray that you can overcome and win against this devastating disease. My father passed away last April after a 3 year battle with cancer. The strength you find in your faith is what will carry you regardless of the outcome. I believe the time we spent together over those three years were the best of our lives. Do your best and let the Lord do the rest.

God Bless

DJ - I work in a hospital. ... (Below threshold)
cmd:

DJ - I work in a hospital. I go through this sort of thing every day. Nothing makes it easy. May God bless you, and I'll keep you in my prayers.

DJThank you for bles... (Below threshold)
quark2:

DJ
Thank you for blessing readers with your message
of love during a challenging time.
You are in my prayers.
May the Lord lift you up.
May He hold you in safety in the
cup of His hand.
May your soul be always with our Father
and the Son.

God Bless You.

"If I keep a green bough in... (Below threshold)
amanda:

"If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come..." Keep strong in the knowledge that you are in the hand of Him who can do all things...you are in my prayers.

amanda

I wish you nothing but the ... (Below threshold)
Jille:

I wish you nothing but the very best in what you are doing to be all that you need to be at this perilous time in your life.

My prayers for your well-being. One of my favorite quotes from the Doctor is In
"How many gifts do we have, buried under a hardened armor, awaiting the gracious trauma of a shattered shell?"

DJMy wife and I ha... (Below threshold)

DJ

My wife and I have admired your thoughtful insights for many years now and followed you and Lori here from Polipundit.

Know you are in our prayers and thoughts.

-DH

DJ:God be with you... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

DJ:

God be with you and your family, DJ.

If it's of any consolation, and please bare with the whole "me" aspect of my post here for a minute, I know what you mean when it comes to being painfully aware of our finite time here in this world.

I had a heart attack at 33, and a stent implanted in my heart just under two years ago. Every little ache, twinge, sore muscle or even gas bubble in or near my chest reminds me of how precious and fleeting my time is here. Sometimes, when there's some little ache, some little pain any ordinary person might have in their chest and ignore, I think "Crap...is this it? Is this really happening?" It passes, of course. But nevertheless I get consumed by thoughts of my death for a while (especially as of late) and I wonder how long I'll live. I start to feel sorry for myself and get depressed. Worst of all, I lose sight of God (especially as of late).

Then I read something so beautiful as your post here. While I felt self-absorbed and petty for a bit, I also found hope, inspiration and renewal in it. You've given me and others the tender gift of your words and thoughts; words that I really and truly needed to hear. To me, they are a gentle and touching reminder from God through you that I need, no, I must do better as a husband and a servant under God; that I need not worry about what the future holds; that He is there and that whatever happens, I am not alone, He will see me through it, even if that thing is death. All I have to have is faith in Him. And you helped remind me of that.

So, if you can, consider what you've done here as a service to God and fulfilling one of your "needs".

Thank you and may the Peace of Christ be with, DJ. You will definitely be in my prayers.

P.S. Now go kick that cancer's ass!

"The Lord bless you, and ke... (Below threshold)
Terry:

"The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace." Number 6:24-26

DJ, May the Lord ble... (Below threshold)
Melissa In Texas:

DJ,
May the Lord bless you.
May He continue to hold you and your family in His loving hands.

It's hard to comment, but I... (Below threshold)

It's hard to comment, but I will. My Dad was killed before I was born, so I have always felt an emptiness. Then I married, and had kids. I learned what a Dad was, and a husband. Your comment about your desire to be the best husband and father brings tears to my eyes. They have you now, and thank God, you seem to be exactly what you hope to be. I will add you to my prayers, but in my eyes you seem to be level and directed to the path you need. Don't forget to be true to you.
Jennifer

Godspeed, DJ... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

Godspeed, DJ

DJ - I, too, followed you a... (Below threshold)
shellie:

DJ - I, too, followed you and Lorie to this site. I have admired your thoughtful comments for years. Like you, I have also had cancer myself and more recently my husband as well. At times like these, we are blessed to be aware of our limited lives here on earth. Each of us will die one day. Some of us are blessed by feeling our immortality while we still have time to do the things that are important. Godspeed to you and your family.

Find your peace every day a... (Below threshold)
epador:

Find your peace every day and rejoice in your family and faith. Amen.




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