Therapy has always been a word that generates a good response. Massage therapy and aromatherapy have a nice, relaxing connotation. But I am retiring therapy from my lexicon of positive words after experiencing a round of chemotherapy this past weekend with my wife. Joni and I embarked on the first mile of our marathon stagger to survival. It is hardly a race.
Cancer, we are learning, is a lot of hanging around hospitals, doctors, and nurses. The old cliche of “hurry up and wait” is the motto for anyone going through the monotony of long term treatment. When Joni was diagnosed with breast cancer in March the reality of that ugly word hit hard. But the reality of the reality settled over us Friday as I watched toxic chemicals drip, drip, drip into my beloved’s bloodstream. An Oklahoma newspaper recently ran a story on the weird logic of using poison for good.
“You’re putting poison into the system to kill those bad cells,” said Andrea Mosteller, a registered nurse who works in the Muskogee Regional Cancer Center. “It takes something that strong to do it.” Chemotherapy, Dr. Ravikumar Vasireddy explains, is a chemical that kills “fast-growing things,” terming it “cytotoxic,” or poisonous to cells. Cancer cells grow rapidly, making chemotherapy an ideal treatment for some types of cancer.
Some people claim to have no faith but you have to have a lot of faith in your doctors to allow them to hook up chemicals that are intended to kill cells, and those drugs can’t discriminate between good and bad cells. If the cell is fast growing it is their mission to hunt down and kill it. So the cells of the hair follicles are casualties alongside, prayerfully, the cancer cells. One of the first chemotherapy drugs was actually a derivative of the fearsome mustard gas used during World War I. Another drug Joni is taking is also used in rat poison. The drug is a both a rodenticide and a medical treatment. Not exactly a Certs commercial…”its a breath mint and a candy mint.”
I sat at the side of my bride of almost thirty years and watched toxins drip into her bloodstream. These drugs can kill you or cure you. Joni would likely tell you after round one that the cure feels like it is killing you at times. I watched the drip of these toxins that we have chosen to allow with the belief that they will kill any dangerous, fast growing cancer cells before they can wreak havoc elsewhere in her body.
I couldn’t help but think how we Christians too often allow the toxins of sin to drip into our spirit and poison our joy, our relationships, and our influence for the Lord. The late author Lewis Smedes wrote powerfully about forgiveness. He often spoke of how only forgiveness can “release us from the grip of our history.” We cannot change an abusive upbringing. We cannot alter dysfunctional theological training that denied grace. We cannot simply deny the hurts that have been visited upon us and be spiritually free. Only forgiveness can release us from the grip of these real and historical events.”
So everytime you choose not to forgive just picture that drip, drip, drip of spiritual poison coarsing through your spiritual veins. Everytime you choose bitterness over joy listen for the quiet drip, drip, drip of toxicity racing to your heart.
We did not choose cancer. But we have chosen to accept that God is in control and He will somehow use our journey through this valley for His glory. We have chosen to trust the doctors who drip toxins into the body of my wife. I hope that you will not choose to let the toxins of bitterness, lack of forgiveness, pride, jealousy, and lust drip into your soul. Paul recognized the effect that these toxins have on our walk with Jesus.
And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Eph 4 NLT
The poison of bitterness, rage, harsh words, and slander target the growing cells of the fruit of the Spirit. You can choose to cut off those toxins before they do their ugly work. And I pray that you will.