Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
~2 Corinthians 12:8-9
What do you do when the cancer comes back? In 2015, just before my family and I relocated to southwest Georgia, my youngest son was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis (LCH). Our first year here included regular trips to Shands hospital in Gainesville, Fla. to see a pediatric hematologist/oncologist and receive chemotherapy.
As the year progressed, my son’s MRIs and CT scans improved. In December of 2016, the doctor said the LCH was no longer active in his body. He rang the bell. We celebrated. It was Christmastime and we had just been given the best gift ever.
For the next year, we went back every three months to see the doctor and have scans. We also kept a close eye on our son; looking for, and being nervous about, anything that might indicate the cancer had returned. But each time we went to Shands, we received the same great news, no active LCH detected.
The following year, we went every six months. We had hoped our trip in December 2018 would be our last. We inquired, and our doctor said, “Just to be safe, let us see him again in a year.”
I won’t lie, we were a little frustrated. We had let our guard down. We had grown comfortable. We believed that the cancer would never return.
Then it did.
At the appointment we didn’t want to go to, nothing seemed to go right. Radiology had a hard time starting the IV for the contrast used in his chest CT. That made us late for our MRI, and doctor’s appointment. Again, it was Christmastime and we had better things to do.
Our regular doctor was out of town and we were seen by another doctor who told us the preliminary read of his scans showed no active LCH detected. He said we should come back in a year, but maybe this time he could just be seen, no scans. We went home and, on the way, called our family to share the good news.
The next day, the doctor we saw the day before called my wife. He said that the review of the MRI showed my son did indeed have active LCH. Except this time, instead of being in his lungs, bones, or skin as it had before, this time it was in his Pituitary gland, situated near his brain.
The news was crushing. We cried as we told his brother and him the news. We cried again when we called our family. We cried some more, too. Even though we have a better idea of what to expect this time, it isn’t easy.
I am pretty sure Paul knew something of what we are going through. His “thorn in the flesh” has remained a mystery through the ages. Whatever it was, it had come back three times. I doubt seriously it was LCH, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is the answer God gave Paul. Because it is the same answer God gives us today.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul’s response to the Lord’s answer is not a natural one. When dealing with infirmities, many will deny their existence, hide them, or be embarrassed by them. Paul says we should glory in them. In other words, we should let God’s power shine through them.
We aren’t certain what that is going to look like or entail. However, it is our prayer that every step of the way we can glory in our position as infinitely weaker than the Lord.