Let me tell you a story. This story is about the burdens of a single-income home, when the single-income earner gets leukemia. The home consists of a husband, wife, 4 kids, and Oreo the border collie.
There’s a number of important factors that I’ll toss up to providence and empowerment to be good stewards. Some of these are the blessing of a well paying job, that provides decent health insurance and a fairly good long-term disability insurance. One important factor that fits here as well is the prompting of the Holy Spirit, to land at a local church that embraces teaching the Bible and truly living in gospel-bathed communities. In this local church, there are the official gospel communities and communities we erect around us. Sometimes they are one in the same, and other times they’re unique. Both are wonderful, and provide their own portions of what it means to BE the Church.
When dad got sick, he was whisked away to a month inpatient, to be poisoned with chemotherapy and recover. The wife stuck by his side, but 4 kids and a dog can’t fend for themselves.
Now, there’s no way to easily explain how it all went down, even with charts and graphics.
So, first I’ll tell you how the larger treatment plane went. The first treatment, called induction, was a month in the hospital. That put him into remission, and yet 3 more rounds of chemotherapy happened, called consolidation. Those 3 rounds were each a week of poisoning, a short break, then back into the hospital for 2 weeks.
See, I told you.
Right off the bat, family acted like family. That’s relevant because in 2013 western culture, we really don’t give a crap about family anymore. But not this family! Retired parents immediately adapted and took the 4 kids in, and sick dad’s stay-at-home sister simply added 4 to her 2, folding them into her daily routine. (“simply”, hah!) Then in-laws adapted, blessed by a teacher’s schedule, and cared for the kids as well. Homeschooling continued, and they were fed each day, sleeping somewhere safe. What more could one ask for?
The following consolidation rounds became more confusing, for all but the kids. They pretty much kept a decent routine. This is where a gospel-oriented community spreads its wings!
You see, they kept a decent routine each day, hanging with one family’s mother. The dog ran free with their dogs, and the kids kept up their homeschooling. Then, get this, each night the kids slept in their own beds! From within this gospel community, several volunteered to spend a night at the family’s home, allowing the kids to keep to their regular evening routines.
Once you think it through, you’ll begin to see not only what a fantastic sacrifice this was for a group of people, but what a fantastic blessing it became for the family.
Mixed in, throughout all this, there were meals delivered, to help keep the burdens low. There was thousands of dollars donated, to help the family bridge the gap from sick time at work and long-term disability kicking in. There were gift cards, to help with hospital parking. There were gas cards donated, to help with the 3 hour trips to and fro the hospital. One return from the hospital it was noticed that the new fire-alarms, purchased months ago, had been installed by one bald-headed handyman. And that’s not the only story of around-the-house fixes that happened.
As Christmas approached, the family resolved to forego the effort of decorating the house. It wasn’t unwanted, just not a lot of time or budget for such things. That was not a problem for the gospel community, they decorated the home, and even got them a Christmas tree.
For most, this effort wasn’t a burden or even an effort. It was an extension of who they’ve become. This little gospel community is somewhat diverse, and not really all that much the same…other than Jesus. When Jesus saved them, he began a work to transform them into Himself. Their character began a shift towards a common end goal.
That’s what unites this whole community. So, it was with little second-thought that they rose to care for one of their own. Not one blessed effort is minimized, as I look at the whole story arc, thus far. So many have helped, with their time, talent, and treasure.
Yet, the collective work of this gospel community cannot be seen detached from the overwhelming blessings from God. It is these very works that are God’s work, with Him choosing to use them.
The brokenness of cancer can destroy. But the work of the Lord, brings about care and comfort through it all. No matter the endgame of leukemia, blessings continue to roll in.