“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter
and your lips with shouts of joy.” Job 8:21
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2020 there will be an estimated 1.8 million new cancer cases diagnosed and 606,520 cancer deaths in the United States. It is second only to heart disease in numbers, and not by much.
Without a doubt, cancer is not a laughing matter.
At the same time, God gave us the ability to laugh, and the gift of a sense of humor, and I do not think it possible to face a future that involves living with cancer without thanking God for that ability and the gift and putting them to use frequently during the course of treatment, and every day while living a life with cancer.
It’s scary, folks. I won’t lie. God and I have had some serious conversations about it.
Well, my prayers have been very serious, and I let Him know I do have my moments where I just feel like sitting down and having a good cry. I know it’s OK to feel that way, and I know it’s OK to cry, and there have been tears shed.
But it’s important we find that ability to laugh and put it to work for us.
God gave us another gift to use, and that is the gift of wisdom, and that particular gift is well-suited to help us find the humor in serious situations.
A long time ago, in a faraway land (OK, it was just Lewisville, Texas, but it was a long time ago) my Son, Anthony, was getting ready to complete his first year of elementary school. As a way to close out the year, each child was tasked with constructing a ‘car’ out of a box, or boxes. They had to be constructed in a way that the child could stand inside and walk the car through a course laid out in the parking lot.When the cars (and trucks – it was Texas, after all) were built, the children maneuvered their vehicles through the course. The Lewisville Police Department was there to hand out ‘tickets’ to the 5 and 6 year olds who ran the stop signs (which was about all of them.)
Anthony and I decided to build a McDonald’s dragster.
As you can see, our project got a little out of hand.
Anyway, during the construction of this beast, which included several boxes stuck together with panel adhesive, paper towel tubes, and wheels ‘borrowed’ from a shopping cart (hey, the thing weighed about 50 pounds! No way was he going to just walk around in it like the rest of the kids you can see in the background.)
At one point, when the body was all stuck together, I went to Home Depot and bought the paint and a bunch of disposable brushes so Anthony and his little friends could paint it. I placed it on a couple of metal trash cans in the garage and gave them the paint and brushes and went to go mow the lawn.
Fortunately, I failed to check the gas before I started, and I ran out after about 15 minutes which, of course, meant I had to return to the garage to refill the tank. As I rounded the corner, I was welcomed by the sight of the 5 of them (Kaitlin, Phillip, Nicole, Kyle, and Anthony) engaged in painting everything BUT the car – each other, the floor, the trash cans.
I hollered, “What in the heck (OK, I didn’t say ‘heck’ and, yes, I did cuss at a bunch of 5 and 6 year olds, but, hey, this was serious!) do you think you are doing!”
They all froze and dropped their brushes and looked down at the garage floor. I stood in the carport outside, pointed in the general direction of their houses, and yelled, “Everybody out!!”
In a single file, they all came out, never raising their eyes from the ground. Nicole, Kaitlin, Phillip, Kyle, and Anthony.
My arm dropped down in front of him and I said, “NOT you!”
As soon as the arm came down, the others took off running, and I was sure they would all hear about the paint on their clothes and in their hair. I knew that I probably would as well. Anthony looked up at me, certain he was facing punishment. I looked at the unfinished dragster and the mess around it, then my eyes came back to Anthony.
And I started laughing.
Anthony, thoroughly confused, but now pretty certain he was in the clear, looked at me and asked, “Why are you laughing?”
“Because that was the funniest thing I ever saw! I just wish I’d had a camera.”
“Then why were you yelling at us?”
“Because that’s my job. Yours is cleaning up that mess. Now get to it.”
As you can see in the picture, the car got finished and the picture appeared on the front page of “The Lewisville Times” which I framed and gave to Anthony. The picture you see is a picture I took a couple of years ago when I went to visit him in Bend, Oregon. It was hanging on the wall of his “office” where I slept while there, so I took a picture to remind me of kids being kids and how funny that can be.
I guess God knew I would need it to tell this story.
I had no relationship with Him at that time, but I’m glad He let me use that particular gift which prevented me from punishing my beloved Son for doing nothing more egregious than simply growing up and having fun with his friends.
It was serious, but it certainly was funny.
But now I do have a relationship with Him, which I cherish, and I have a greater appreciation for the sense of humor He gave me, and the ability to laugh, because it sure has come in handy lately.
Yesterday was my first day of chemotherapy.
When I took this selfie, I was not laughing, but there was a lot of laughter with my care nurse, Toya, throughout the several hours I was there. Because the situation was just so serious, I had to let her know that we were going to take care of business, but we were going to enjoy it, and laugh as much as we could, because the potential – and time – for tears was always there, lurking.
I told her I admired her for what she did because I was certain that there were times when battles were lost and people she had come to know passed away. It takes special people to do what Toya and her co-workers do, and they all deserve to laugh as much as they can, while they can.
Even though cancer is not a laughing matter, and acknowledging that this treatment I am going through is serious business, it is still critical that we use the gifts God gave us and thank Him while we do it.
Toya told me she loved my sense of humor.
God bless you all and keep you safe.