In my work life I am an Executive Director. One of the key functions of my role is to eliminate surprises. In many ways I am well suited for this. For example, I have never wanted a surprise party nor have I ever enjoyed participating in them. In my work life I manage people and budgets. In both cases surprises very rarely yield a positive outcome. This morning my wife met with her surgeon. I have met him a few times as well. He professional, smart, empathic, nice, and knows what he is doing. Both of us have come to trust him.
Today as he was reviewing the surgery results the word “surprised” was used. At the outer margins of the tissue that was removed they found a pre-cancerous grouping of cells. They will need to be removed before any treatment can begin. Before they schedule surgery they want to do an MRI on both breasts to make sure there are no more surprises. If they find any masses it means additional biopsies. It means additional waiting to hear results and praying that any results come back benign.
We live in a world and culture that works hard to minimize risk. When problems arise we want clear solutions. This journey into cancer has become a stark reminder that not everything is predictable. There is not always a clear solution. And sometimes God is silent.
In sharing this journey we have heard from many of you. Your stories of unpredictability and surprise have been encouraging and pastoral, even in the middle of this storm. Rita’s and my faith is being tested. I have been mad at God and grateful for God’s presence in the same instant. I have wondered where God is and known God is right there beside us.
The writer to the Hebrews talks about faith being the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Somehow in all of the surprise, unpredictability, anger, and frustration, our faith remains.