Encouragement from a Friend Experiencing Testing

Sunset over Charlotte Harbor, Florida; BJ Gabrielsen, photo.
Sunset over Charlotte Harbor, Florida; BJ Gabrielsen, photo.

As the purveyor of this website, I occasionally hear from other men who relate their experiences with prostate cancer. I’d like to recount the testimonial of one such person whom I know well. He has asymptomatic but metastatic prostate cancer and had been receiving intermittent hormonal therapy for eight years. His PSA had a rapid doubling time which worried his physicians to some degree but his on-going therapy seemed to be starving the prostate cells of the testosterone needed for their growth.  His PSA would be reduced to nearly undetectable levels, then would rise again when therapy was discontinued.  His hope was that God would enable the on-going intermittent therapy to be effective for many years to come.  On a recent visit, his oncologist noticed that the reductions in PSA levels upon receiving therapy were not reaching as low a value (around 0.1 ng/mL) as they had previously and that the times “off” from therapy were getting shorter. These conditions could indicate that he was becoming resistant (refractory) to the therapy.  If this were to be the case, then additional therapeutic agents would be needed such as taxotere (with its undesirable side effects), Zytiga or Enzalutamide.  The eventual result would be the unrestrained growth of prostate cells which did not require external testosterone for their survival. My friend was initially devastated.  His hopes and faith that God would maintain his “chronic” condition indefinitely were being severely challenged.  He would see himself running out of therapeutic options and facing a painful death quicker than he had anticipated.  After spending a restless night of sporadic sleep, the next morning he decided to read his Bible and related devotionals to seek some answers, if any, from the Lord.

First, he read from Isaiah 61:1-3 where God is speaking through the prophet Isaiah saying the following. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has appointed me (Isaiah) to bring good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,……giving them the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting, so they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified.”  The accompanying devotional had a quote from 16th century John Calvin’s  sermons from Job which stated “…..if God sends us such great afflictions that we are as it were swallowed up, let it not cause us to despair….but let us resist it, knowing that God still reserves mercy ready for us at the proper time.  And if we languish more than we would wish, let us know that God will let the illness ripen in order to heal it better.”  My friend went on to recount that when we pray for a specific issue, we must come to the throne of God in submission, trust and gratitude if we are to hear the truth from our caring Father.  Thus, when we realign our personal wills with God’s perfect will, then perfect peace is a resulting by-product.  God will then give us the desires of our heart according to Psalm 37:4, “delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Additionally, my friend had been challenged by the question, “do you feel chained to difficult circumstances?”  The answer was that only God can provide contentment.  Lasting satisfaction can be found only with Him, for in His “presence is fulness of joy; at His right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).  Our view of changing circumstances and contentment is a personal choice.  The way we view our circumstances is more important than the circumstances themselves.  The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned in whatever state to be content.”  Paul drew his ultimate satisfaction from His personal knowledge of a God who never changes.  “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful,” according to Hebrews 10:23.  When all we have is God, we have all we need.  Finally, it will be interesting to see the next chapter in my friend’s on-going saga. He left me quoting Jeremiah 17:7-8. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.”

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