tidings of comfort and joy December 19, 2013

The second clinical trial began on Monday, but I didn’t have an allergic reaction to either the study drug or the chemotherapy drug carboplatin. Since this new trial combines a study drug with an approved chemotherapy drug, my day had a lot of waiting as the medical team checked and rechecked the protocols.

The steriods and anti-nausea pre-med infusions after the study drug and before the carboplatin have residual effects over the first two days. While I first felt that I could move mountains (I didn’t), I was also aware that the potential for a crash of those mountains also loomed (which is why I didn’t move mountains). Today and the next few days I have the classic intestinal issues associated with chemotherapy, but I’m as ready as anyone can be for whatever happens next.

The last two weeks have been difficult ones for me emotionally. I look okay and physically I have pain only from the tumor in my neck; however, knowing that cancer is thriving inside my body is a hard reality, one that does hurt. Staying in the moment for me does not mean looking at the circumstances of the moment because that’s what can send me into panic mode. I continually have to pull myself back from the edge of fear and anxiety and continually have to trust that God is with me no matter what. It’s a constant battle to bring my mind and emotions to a place of submission and to trust that God will let nothing dismay me or unsettle me.

I also realize that what I am facing is not that different from what everyone faces. We all face difficulties with family and friends, with health and relationships, with home and work and life. Some challenges may seem easier than others, but rarely are we faced with only one “problem.” Things always seem to come in bunches, and sort of like that whack-a-mole game, we pound one problem into ground only to have another one or two pop up. No, looking at our circumstances is not comforting.

What perfect timing then that this new challenge for me is happening now. The Christmas season for me has always been a time for reflection on the practice of waiting, waiting with hope that the promise of redemption will come. Generations awaited the coming of the Savior, yet that first coming was in very difficult circumstances. When I think of the unknowns and the real dangers to survival that loomed around the birth and life of Jesus, I am amazed at the constant presence and faithfulness of God to His promise. The story of faith became flesh with the birth of Jesus, but that story is still what the writer of Hebrews states: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We can’t touch it or see it or experience it in the flesh, but we can know it in our innermost being as a gift from God (see Ephesians 2:1-10).

Walking in faith in trying circumstances is both hard and easy; it’s hard to keep walking, but walking in faith makes handling the circumstances easier. The Christmas season I think of the difficult circumstances of the fulfillment of that promise of the coming of the Savior, and I love the old Christmas hymns that call to mind that dichotomy, such as the opening words of this hymn:

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay;
Remember Christ, our Saviour,
Was born on Christmas day,
To save us all from Satan’s power
When we were gone astray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.

I like seeing that tidings of comfort come first and that brings joy. Comfort in the midst of difficulties and challenges and anxiety and fear, comfort that soothes, eases, reassures, strengthens in the midst of pain—that comfort is what I seek this Christmas. The tidings of comfort and joy are all around me, in the faces and words and presence of family and friends, in the words of Scripture and the songs of the season and the decorations that are everywhere I am, and even in the places in my physical body where the cancer grows. Tidings is an Old English word for an announcement or a piece of news, and His tidings of comfort are also of joy. I can rest in that promise no matter my circumstances.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39).

The final stanza of the old hymn “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is my prayer this day and this season:

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy,
O tidings of comfort and joy.


3 Responses to “tidings of comfort and joy”

  1. Fran Kirkpatrick Says:

    Beautifully put, Cindy. Tidings of comfort and joy are my prayer for you this Christmas season! Much love to you and your family from me and mine:-)

  2. candanning Says:

    Cindy, thank you so much for  your words from His Word. They are the great reality in this world of  so much untruth. His touch is all we need.  Pray me, I’m not strong like u. I love you and James so much. 

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy Note® II, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

  3. Comcast Says:

    More than conquerors!!! Amen. I’m Glad to know the new trial seems promising . Peggy

    Sent from my iPhone


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