One year ago today, July 7, 2014, I experienced an attack that would forever change my world. I have written extensively about that on this blog and in a yet to be published manuscript tentatively titled, Dying To Go on Vacation. As I celebrate this first anniversary of that significant event, I'm reminded of a key lesson that I have learned during the past 12 months. I have learned about the value of perseverance. Perseverance is the ability and willingness to overcome despite difficulty or obstacles.
The first key component of perseverance is the ability to overcome. That is an important distinction because there are some hits you take that you take that you just don't get back up from. For a couple of weeks I actually thought this cancer was one of those hits. My initial diagnosis of pancreatic cancer carries with it and extremely short lifespan and an almost certain death sentence. That kind of diagnosis causes you to reevaluate everything in her life. Fortunately the diagnosis was later adjusted to a less aggressive form of cancer, however the reevaluation allowed me to take a fresh look at my life and determine what my priorities really needed to be. At that point I had to make the decision to persevere. I had to decide that I have the ability to overcome.
The ability to overcome is essentially the mental, spiritual, and physical capability to continue to move forward. I have learned in the past year is that you have no idea what it is that you are capable of until you absolutely have to do it. The ability to overcome is not necessarily overcoming itself, it must be accompanied by the willingness to overcome.
The willingness to overcome based upon two important motivational factors, and those are is internal fortitude and external motivation. Internal fortitude is essentially the soul's way of helping it up when you could just stay down. It is deciding to believe that tomorrow can yet be a little better than today. If internal fortitude is determining to live on the inside, external motivation is having somebody to live for on the outside. It is amazing what can be accomplished when you have people who love you. How they lend you their strength when your strength is gone, and cheer you on from the sidelines to help you continue fight. Like the sixth player in any great Duke basketball game at Cameron indoor Stadium, it is that external motivation ,those people cheering for you, that allows you to continue despite the desire to quit.
Finally perseverance is forward the altar overcoming difficulties and obstacles. Cancer is only the first of many obstacles and challenges that have come against me and my family in the past year. As if being sick is not enough it also brings with it and incredible financial burden. It is expensive to get sick. There are also spiritual, relational, and emotional costs to bear.
But you know what? That is life. Everyone I encounter is dealing with difficulties and obstacles. Everyone I know is struggling with spiritual, relational, and personal issues. But the good news is that we serve a God who has been through the dark times of life and has overcome. We serve a Savior who has suffered. By the stripes of the Jesus our Messiah, our Savior, we have already been healed.
So if I could give you any gift on this my cancerversary, I would give you the gift of perseverance. The ability and willingness to overcome despite obstacles and difficulties. In our darkest moment, on our loneliest days, may we like Paul say "I am pressed but not distressed, persecuted not abandoned, pressed down but not destroyed." I continue to persevere and I remain:
Consumed by the Call,