Great Is Thy Faithfulness

I had a doctors appointment this morning. On October 16 it will have been one year since my prostate cancer surgery. This was to be my one-year appointment. As I walked through the kitchen I saw out of the corner of my eye the glowing colors of dawn. I stepped out on the back porch and watched as the sun slowly crept over the horizon. That is the picture that you see here.

I was filled with a sense of God‘s presence and God’s protection as I prepared to face the doctors report. At all of my three month appointments I received good news – there was no PSA detected and hence, no cancer. Still, there is something unique about that one-year mark. But as ominous as the event itself may have been, I left the house with peace of mind; peace that only God can give and peace confirmed by the striking sunrise He had provided.

The doctor had good news. Still no detectable PSA, still no cancer. Cancer-free is a sweet, sweet phrase. However, a sweeter phrase than that is “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Corrie ten Boom once said, “No pit is so deep that He is not deeper still; with Jesus even in our darkest moments, the best remains and the very best is yet to be.” After today’s experience I can truly say that, even in our darkest moments, He is the light that breaks through the night – the sunrise in the midst of the darkness.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see:
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Thomas O. Chisholm, 1923

He’s With Us Through This Whole Thing

Today marks 9 months since my prostate cancer surgery. I had my 9-month visit with my doctor this week and my blood work has remained unchanged ever since the surgery. There is no detectable PSA and consequently no detectable cancer cells. He was thrilled to see me as he has been at every checkup. He told me again how happy he was with the results and I flippantly asked, “What did you expect?” He replied, “I fully expected you to be on radiation at this point as well as hormone therapy. You really should not be doing this well.” He said that when he saw the pathology report and when he saw the MRI and then when the report came back from M.D. Anderson that showed my entire prostate had been taken over by the cancer and that it had taken over the seminal vesicles and that it was in the margins (the marginal tissue of the prostate next to the surrounding tissues) and that it had moved into the lymph nodes – well he figured I would be struggling. Then he looked me in the eye and said that “the Lord was definitely by my side throughout this whole thing.” All I can say is AMEN.

But here’s the even greater truth – even if none of this good news had come, the Lord would still have been by my side through this whole thing. The three boys in the fiery furnace knew that God was able to deliver them and even told the king that, but then they said that if God didn’t deliver them they would still worship Him and Him alone. And who showed up in the midst of the fiery furnace? Jesus showed up – He was with them throughout that whole thing. God didn’t promise us deliverance from the the trials and troubles of this life. In fact, he promised us that they would come. But He also said that He would be with us throughout this whole thing.

“And, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Happiness & Joy


It was the summer of 1977. Pam and I were newlyweds. I had just graduated and Pam was still in school at Baylor. I was working in a plant called Mosley Machinery. We built the machines which were used to flatten cars. All was right for this young couple beginning their lives together.

Every morning Pam sent me off to work with my packed lunch pail. I thoroughly enjoyed working there. I especially loved test days (always a Thursday) when a new car-crushing behemoth came off of the line for its first trial run. A crane with a giant claw would pick up an old, unsuspecting car and drop it into the belly of the beast. Slowly the great metal plates enveloped the doomed vehicle and closed in, flattening the car to the cheers of the 300+ employees who watched the car’s fateful end with great delight. Good days indeed. (Thursday was also the day we had “church” but that’s a story for another day.)

I returned home at the end of the day usually covered in dirt, oil, and debris as my job primarily consisted of tearing down buildings to make room for expansion at the plant. The old buildings had been in use for decades and had not been cleaned except for a daily sweeping. I brought home the filth of the decades. Pam made me remove most of my clothes before coming into our apartment. I was never indecent, but I was barefoot and shirtless before entering – just the way Pam wanted me. I went straight to the shower and, after cleaning up and getting dressed, I would relax a while and then we would eat supper. Pam was trying out all of her newlywed recipes which were usually designed to feed 8 people. After swinging a sledgehammer all day I was famished so I would consume my 7 portions while Pam ate her one. (After a few days of this routine she told me that if I didn’t eat all of it, I could have some in my lunch the next day, so I reigned in my appetite.) The rest of the evening was spent watching TV, Pam’s studying and/or rehearsing, and visits with a dear friend, Tony, who lived in the same apartment complex. Life was simple. We were happy.

However, within a span of a little over a year, our happiness would be crushed like those hapless cars on test day. Pam would have to undergo emergency gallbladder surgery, we would move to another town where I would begin a new job, and “Pappa B,” Pam’s Dad, passed away along with my uncle and grandmother. Even though my new job seemed exciting, it was also stressful as was the move, so that dealt happiness a blow as well.

“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4) It was in the midst of those stressful times that the seeds of joy began to grow and supersede the happiness which I had regarded as joy. It has been a slow growing plant – this joy in the Lord – but it has endured through many storms and droughts; through many harsh winters and scorching summers; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. In fact it has grown so much – this joy in the Lord – that it bloomed beautifully not too long ago when I was to undergo a biopsy procedure in which I would be placed under anesthesia.

For some reason, the day before my trip to the hospital, I had a sense that I might not come out of the procedure alive. It is very rare for someone to die in this procedure, but the thought was there nonetheless. I prayed and asked the Lord to give me peace and this absolute flood of joy came over me. I knew that all was well with my soul. I actually understood and experienced the peace, hope, confidence – and yes, joy – that I had often read about in Daniel 3:16-18. I knew that God would deliver me, but even if He didn’t, I would not bow my knee to the spirit of fear. Many times I have discussed the concept of “dying grace” in which the Lord gives you peace as you are about to leave this world, but I had never experienced it. Granted, it was just a little bit disconcerting when I pondered that this might be “dying grace,” but even that was fleeting in the face of God’s peace and joy. Even as I was going under in the operating room I was full of joy talking about the Isle of Skye and remembering the wonderful time Pam and I had spent there. When I awoke in the recovery room I glanced around and realized pretty quickly that I was not in Heaven. I smiled and even chuckled a bit – not because I was still alive, but because my Joy was with me.

The biopsy did reveal that I have prostate cancer. The Gleason score is 9 (out of 10) which they tell me indicates an aggressive, high risk form of cancer. And yet, my Joy remains. My doctor believes it can be cured, but even before he said that I knew that all is and will be well with my soul. I’m going to MD Anderson for surgery and treatment. It’s regarded as one of the best (if not The Best) cancer centers in the world. Even so, my hope is not in them, but in the One Who gave them the wisdom and knowledge that they use on a daily basis. My doctor there is a preeminent prostate cancer expert, but I know that God will direct him as He sees fit with no regard for his outstanding qualifications. I can even see how God has orchestrated all of the events in the past few weeks to put me in the care of such capable doctors and surgeons. Still, through all that I will face I know that it is my God Who will deliver me, but even if He doesn’t, I will not bow my knee to the spirit of fear for the Joy of the Lord is my Strength. It truly is well with my soul. Hallelujah!