This story is one I should have shared weeks and weeks ago. But, as I said the other night, now seems to be "the time," and I'm sure there's some good reason that everything is pouring out of me at once.
Let me begin by telling you about a friend of mine...well, he started out as a friend of my husband's. Today, I'm going to call him Dan. Here is a young man raised in a Godless home. He has had learning issues and attention issues his whole life. Dan is put on medication for ADHD at a young age. Later, he takes medication for schizophrenia. He sees things that aren't really there. He often cannot complete a thought without being distracted by another. He rocks back and forth when he sits, he paces when he stands. He is ostracized by his schoolmates. He is told he will never reach above a 6th grade level. He doesn't shower as often as he should. He is overweight. No one wants to bother with him.
But he has one good friend. One young man who loves Christ has sympathy on this wreck of a boy. One kind voice invites him to church. So Dan starts attending a men's Bible study.
It's been a year and a half since Brad met Dan. If you had known him before, you wouldn't know him now. He has gone from someone who was lost in every way possible to someone I love to have in my home. As the men of the church studied together, this young man who seemed so worthless to the world wormed his way into my husband's heart. As he has turned his life over to Christ, God has been faithful. Dan's mind truly has been renewed by the Word of God. He doesn't take his medicines anymore. And against all "knowledge" that the doctors have, his symptoms are gone. Brad has encouraged him and challenged him and taught him as they have spent more and more time together. He doesn't see things anymore. He can not only keep his own train of thought, but he can hold entire conversations with groups of people. He laughs, he jokes, he asks good questions, he even has good answers. He rarely rocks or paces. He takes care of himself. He has lost weight. He even is looking for a job. God has made this old, worthless soul new and beautiful! If that alone weren't enough, God has rewarded Dan's simple, pure, childlike faith with a pure understanding that others often overlook.
As I have mentioned, Brad and I have struggled with the loss of my voice. I will write more about this later in the week, but for now it's only a background for the particular conversation I want to tell you about. Someone, ages ago, had recorded a band practice...or maybe it was a worship service, I'm not sure which. Either way, there was a CD with about 5 songs with the full band, Brad singing lead and me singing harmony. Dan doesn't have much that he can call his own, and the movies and music that are in his home are not generally Godly. So when a friend (probably the same young man who invited him to church) lent him that CD, he went home and played it. Out loud. For his whole family to hear. This happened just a few weeks after my surgery. Dan had told his family all about the cancer and the surgery and the loss of my voice. His mom heard the CD and asked who it was. Dan told her it was the church praise band. She was impressed by the twist Brad had put on a hymn and she kept listening. Then she asked, "who is that girl singing with him?" Dan answered, "Mama, that's Miss Rachel, Brad's wife." And then came the question. It has been asked over and over and over throughout time in different forms. "Why?" she asked "Why would God let her have cancer that would take away her voice?"
When Dan was telling me the story later, I was asking the same thing. It was the first time I had heard a recording of us together since all of this happened. I was hurting, and so was Brad. It was one of those times when sorrow was blocking out everything else in my view. But Dan told me the answer, and it brings tears to my eyes even today. "Well, Mama, see, Miss Rachel's daddy and Mr. Brad don't get along. At all. But ever since Miss Rachel had surgery, they do."
Yes, God used my cancer to heal a greater illness...one that has been in my family for years. There have been other relationships restored because of this sickness as well. And there has been a softening all around me. Something as serious as cancer throws out the stupid, petty differences that we let get wedged between us. In the grand scheme of things, there are some that just aren't important. My entire family has felt this, and changed. I am so thankful. Thank You, Lord, for giving me this small illness to heal the larger one. Thank You for chastening my body in order to correct many hearts. Help me remember this lesson and never doubt Your plan!