Cancer is an exercise in patience. It isn’t cured in one surgery. There is no magic cure-all. Procedures like radiation seem to go on and on. When all the surgeries and procedures have been dutifully completed, there are no guarantees. Fighting cancer is about the long game. It is slowly dawning on me that cancer might be a metaphor for life, work, and ministry. Living, raising a family, or working to make the world a better place requires patience. Even when we are patient and do our work with integrity, there are no guarantees. Stuff happens. People disappoint us. The unplanned and unexpected wreak havoc on families and ministries. The people and ministries that survive are in it for the long game.
In Psalm 23 David writes about a valley of death. Pretty depressing, especially if you quit reading at that point. If you push through and finish reading something unexpected emerges, a banqueting table! You can’t get to this table if you aren’t in it for the long game.
I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone. Watching and giving witness as my wife bravely faces this disease, I am learning to appreciate the long game, the patient game. Every day when she gets up and faces another treatment, takes another pill, or visits another doctor she is chipping away and winning the battle.
I am learning about life by watching my wife.
Our marriage works. Not because we had a great wedding, but because we get up every day and figure out how to get through the day. When you string all the days together, those days become years and decades.
Great parents know that parenting is more than any given moment. It is about loving and being there through the good, bad, and ugly.
Effective ministry isn't about any one moment, good or bad. It is about getting up every day. Believing that God is present. It is about caring for the other person. It is about trusting God, even in the middle of a crisis. It is about the long game.