“Carried… by people’s prayers, and by our faith; that’s what it was; that’s how it was!”
Talking to a breast cancer survivor — a seven-year struggle — it was clear that God had no only healed her physically, but spiritually also. As she beamed, her face aglow with joy, there was no sign of the pain of resignation — the pain of a death about to be lived — the indelible signs of a cancer detected all too late. That was mid-2008, when the cancer found its way from deep inside the breast, all the way out to a bloody brassiere. From there, there were three-hundred-and-fifty harrowing weeks to endure.
A Loss That Stands an Arm’s Length Away
Ambiguous loss is a strange concept.
We don’t lose all we could lose in an instant; loss is enigmatic in that it feels like loss but the loss is so intangible it’s impossible to chart.
Ambiguous loss is a complicated grief, and cancer is one manifestation of an ambiguous loss, because of the life we must give away in fighting it, and the life we give away because it fights for us. Ambiguous loss is a loss that stands an arm’s length away; a loss that feels like loss without actually being loss. Therefore, it’s possibly the worst variety of loss. It’s too intangible for us to cope with.
But the intangibility of ambiguous loss, when it’s traversed, as it’s been overcome, gives us such a swollen sense of hope and God’s trustworthiness; that got us through.
What Else But Joy, When Death is Faced and Conquered
A cancer survivor will experience this, as much as a survivor of a train or plane wreck will: there is such inbuilt and deep gratitude that the survivor abounds in a special portion of joy.
Such a joy is a hope prevailed, a peace secured, and a death conquered. It’s a revenant experience; the coming back to life from the repetitive prospects of death.
What else is there to be experienced in the survivor but rapturous joy for the summit conquered? And cancer is an Everest. When death is faced and conquered in the mortal body there’s possibly such unparalleled joy on tap every moment; it’s an unbelievable accomplishment. But the biggest joy is the experience of joy itself.
Joy is the hallmark of the person touched by the healing hand of the Lord. The light in their soul beams outward from eyes that have seen so much of death coming to take them that couldn’t.
Carried by faith,
And the power of prayer,
When you can’t be safe,
Have faith to dare.
© 2016 Steve Wickham.