What Did I Learn After My July 3rd Post? God’s Grace Is Sufficient!!

Please allow me to share lessons learned after my July 3rd post where I concluded that in the midst of unexpected results, I still believed wholeheartedly in God’s plan and faithfulness for my life especially as related to health issues. As a result of undergoing radiation treatment for my prostate cancer twelve years earlier, I am experiencing an undesirable but common side effect called radiation cystitis. Studies cited that it can be cured with up to sixty 2-hour sessions of hyperbaric therapy in a glass chamber wherein I am exposed to 100% oxygen under three atmospheres of pressure, equivalent to being under 50-60 feet of water. I had great hopes that since God made this therapy available to me, He would also cure me. The end result is that as of today, I am not totally relieved of all symptoms but there remains only an occasional trace which I can definitely live with. My Johns Hopkins urologist says that it will be a “constant issue”.  So even though the treatments helped and I had hoped for a complete healing, God chose not to totally cure me. God has other plans. What have I learned?

The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, “But we have this treasure” (as Christians we have Christ in us) “in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed” (note the word, I am at times!) “but not despairing; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus” (just as He died, we have to die to ourselves); “that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body”. I prayed many times that God would totally heal this condition but while it is inconvenient, He chose to leave me with a vestige. Like the oft-stated example of the apostle Paul who had a bothersome “thorn in the flesh”, God chose not to heal him totally even though Paul entreated the Lord three times for its complete removal. God’s answer was always the same, namely that “my grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in (my) weakness.” ( 2 Corinthians 12:9). Recently in my quiet time, God told me the same thing and reminded me that He would take care of my body as I continued to minister about prostate cancer. I purposed in my heart to do just that.

As often happens, when I commit an issue to the Lord’s control, He tests me shortly thereafter to show myself whether or not I had truly committed it or not. It happened again recently. After a few days of positive symptom relief for which I was thankful, suddenly one day I regressed. After a few minutes of self-pity, I purposed in my heart and echoed the words of Job when he said “though He should slay me, yet I will trust Him.” The next day my condition improved significantly. I don’t always pass the “faith test” but this time I think I did.

God’s desire is for us to develop Christ-like character and grow in intimacy with Him. He wants us to experience the richness of His love and wholeheartedly show Him devotion. He will use trials and difficulties to accomplish His good purposes for us. Our inner man is being renewed in anticipation of eternal life in a new heaven and new earth with a new body. Life brings trouble to us from many sources, but the common thread in all trials is the Lord’s desire and ability to use them for our good and His glory. While I am forever grateful for the knowledge and care I receive from excellent physicians, I rest in a paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 1:25, “my faith doesn’t rest in the wisdom of man, it rests in the power of God.”

God’s blessings are not only for us but also for others. Our Father comforts us in our sufferings and asks that we share what we have received from Him with other people. Difficult times can even be ordained by God. Regardless of the source, our Father works in them to benefit us and to bless others. Hence I write this. Thank you for reading it.

PSA Testing Do-Overs

If your doctor suspects you may have prostate cancer because of an elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level, you might want to ask for a repeat PSA test to confirm the results, says a new Canadian study. It could save you from undergoing an unnecessary prostate biopsy that could entail serious complications. Of 1,268 men who underwent a second PSA test within three months of their first test showing elevated PSA levels, 315 (24.8%) had normal results the second time around. As a result of their findings, the researchers recommend that men with elevated PSA levels should repeat the test before undergoing a biopsy. Elevated PSA levels might result from infection, physical activity or sexual activity. The American Urological Association already recommends that the decision to undergo a biopsy shouldn’t be based on a single PSA test result. However, other studies reveal that only 16 to 56 percent of primary care physicians ordered a repeat test for patients with abnormal results. Most experts agree that PSA screening should be used with a digital rectal examination and additional information such as family history, race and age to assess the likelihood of prostate cancer being present. The PSA test should be performed following a discussion with the patient about its benefits and risks.

(The above was published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2015.)