For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16)
Marissa has finished chemotherapy. One mountain has been conquered. One path walked. One battle over.
She is tired and there are battle scars, but she is done. Praise to the Lord.
I am not a detailed person. It’s hard for me to separate moments, to put them in neat compartments. In my heart I carry them all, but I summarize instead of organize. The picture I remember of chemo has its blacks and grays, but they are blended in with peaceful pastels and bright spots of color. The picture is pensive, but it is beautiful. It is filled with muted color. It is painted by a Master Painter. There is grace upon grace.
How can I recount His tender mercies, His mighty deeds, His acts of love? I can only see the beginning of His graces. They stack one on top of the other so that I hardly notice the details of each one. But when I look back I can barely see the blacks and grays because of the beauty surrounding them.
Grace upon grace.
Protection–God protected. Do you know how many times Marissa was exposed to illness and did not get sick? She works with a classroom of three year old children who were constantly passing viruses around. Co-workers had strep throat and the flu. Our family experienced several sicknesses. And even with a severely compromised immune system, she did not get sick. Since her diagnosis in September, she has missed only 5 full days of work and not one of those was from sickness. Although she was hospitalized 3 times with fever, there was never an infection–just low blood counts. She was also protected from many of the side effects of chemo. It wasn’t easy, and her body is worn, but after the first (awful) 8 weeks, she tolerated these last 12 weeks fairly well.
Grace upon grace.
People–God used people. He used you. Did you pray, speak a word of encouragement, send a card, meet a financial need, provide a meal? God used you to help us through. I remember in those early weeks how Marissa would walk in the door at night and sit down with her cards from the mail. It was amazing, really, how people we know and many people we don’t reached out to her. Someone sent a box of little gifts so she could open one when she had a bad day. A group from Pennsylvania sent cards almost every day for months. Friends sent texts and plants, notes and gifts. People gave money for medical expenses to lighten our load. You reminded us that you were praying for us. You were so kind in so many ways. Thank you for being our people. Thank you for walking alongside us in this journey. Thank you for praying with us and crying with us and rejoicing with us.
God also surrounded us with good people on our care team at the Cancer Center. Marissa has gotten to know so many friendly staff members there. The girls in the lab, the folks behind the desks, the nurses on the chemo floor–they have all enriched our journey. We love Marissa’s doctor, and we especially love her nurse and nurse practitioner. They have mostly laughed with her, but they have also cried with her. They have cared for her body, but they have also nurtured her, sympathized with her, and listened to her. They are strong women and they helped her stay strong. We count them as friends.
Grace upon grace.
Peace–God gave peace. God talks about extending peace like a river to Israel (Isaiah 66:12) and we sing songs about that. He directs peace like a river toward us. I love that, and I’ve thought a lot about rivers and peace. The truth is, rivers are not always peaceful. Sometimes they churn and the rocks and hills make them roar. But He directs peace like a river toward us. If we’re in an especially hilly or rocky place, we might get swept away. We might feel like we’re drowning. We might not be able to get our footing, to find our way.
Sometimes we just need to let the river carry us to a quiet place. There is always a quiet place ahead. Jesus gives us the peace that is His. (John 14:27) It’s not the same peace the world has–it just keeps flowing and it keeps taking us to a quiet place. It keeps bringing us back to truth and a quiet heart and a solid rock. It keeps bringing us back to God.
To His fullness, to His love, to His multiple graces.
For of His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16)