A Descent that Leads to Joy

Ancient Path

Six months ago, my radiologist, Dr. Ritz, said, “I need to keep an even closer eye on you, Heather. I don’t like that we keep finding something. I want to see you again in six months and perhaps that will provide us with more direction on what to do next.

Well, that six month period has elapsed.

Tomorrow, I make my way back to her examination table to be scanned once again. Tomorrow will mark the sixth time that I have visited her office to be evaluated for breast cancer in the past two years. Three mammograms, three scans, two biopsies, and one time to have markers inserted for surgery serve as memorialized imprints in my mind. I am familiar with what is going to happen tomorrow.

What I don’t know is what will be found, if anything. My mind has been wrestling with different scenarios in anticipation of tomorrow. The cursed ‘what-ifs’ keep circling in my thoughts by day and filtering into my dreams at night.

This week, I began studying the book of James. To be honest, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to study this book. Yet, as I prayed about it, the Lord continued to impress upon my heart that this was the book for me. So, I submitted. For the next 4-6 months, I will be working my way through this provocative letter which was originally written to first century Christ followers on how to live a genuine Christ-honoring life centered upon faith in action.

His first exhortation to this group was, “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials.” NASB, James 1:2

A good word for me on the eve of another cancer screening!

In researching the word, encounter, it comes from the Greek transliterated word peripipto. Peripipto’s word origin is derived from two Greek words – peri and pipto. Peri means to draw near or to be encompassed by. Pipto means to descend from a higher place or to fall prostrate to the ground. In other words, to encounter means to purposely draw near, to descend and to be encompassed by.

Peirazo is the Greek transliterated word for trials. Peirazo at its most basic root origin means to pierce.

Boy, can I relate to that!

My cancer journey has involved piercings of one sort or another for the past two years!

In fact, as I reflect upon it, to pierce means to make a hole, to penetrate, to push through, to strike, to knock, to beat, and to thrust.

Trials certainly make their mark, don’t they?

Trials pierce our hearts.

Trials penetrate our souls.

Trials push through our defenses.

Trials strike our vulnerabilities.

Trials knock us off balance.

Trials beat against us.

Trials thrust into our lives in the most intrusive ways.

The way I read James’ words now, he implies that we should make a conscious decision to draw near to our trials and difficulties and be encompassed by them in joy. He suggests that we descend to the ground and lie prostrate.

Can we imagine a more vulnerable and defenseless position?

Yet, that is exactly what I am going to do tomorrow.

I am going to lie down.

I will lay upon an examination table – open and exposed.

I will be probed, scanned and scrutinized to evaluate if the indeterminant tissue that was discovered six months ago in my body has changed in anyway – or if there is new cancerous cell tissue that has surfaced beneath my skin. My hope is that the indeterminant tissue has remained unchanged; indicating it is just dead, scar tissue.

There is no other way to learn what has been going on inside of my body. I can’t tell you. I know I have experienced more unexplained pain lately – a different kind of pain since my radiation treatments. The only way to determine what is going on and to determine the course of my next steps – is to draw near and descend upon an examiner’s table.

With joy?

In all honesty, I have feelings of trepidation. I’m not too excited about the thought of another new, and different journey with cancer. My hope and my prayers seek a different outcome.

Yet, the joy that James speaks of is not happiness.

No one is happy about cancer, believe me.

Pure, God-given joy is the outpouring of soul rest. A soul that rests in the will of God through the piercings, the thrusts, the pushes and pokes, and the penetrations of the many kinds of trials that occur in our lives will revel in His peace, His mercy, and His joy.

I’m going to hold onto that truth during all of the probes, pokes, scans, and screens tomorrow.

I have no idea what will be or will not be found. However, I choose to descend upon the table to determine a little bit more of what is ahead –whichever way my Lord and my God chooses to lead me. I choose to descend to discover His joy.

So, here we go….the time is up! The hour is at hand for me to continue the journey with my God and see what He has in store for me around the bend….

Your prayers are appreciated!

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