I completed this week half of my chemotherapy. I have completed as many treatments as I have left to do. Of course being half done with the chemo itself is not the same as being done with half of the side effects from the chemo. Those side effects linger much longer. But being half way through the actual drug therapy gave me reason to reflect on the word ‘half.’ We find in the Wisdom of Solomon (18:14-20) a retelling of the Passover story, specifically of the Angel of Death passing through the land of Egypt.
For while gentle silence enveloped all things,
and night in its swift course was now half gone,
I find the course of treatment to be like a continuous night – but now half gone! I am not the cheery positivist who rallies through the chemo by thinking positive thoughts. I have cancer and I have chemo. I don’t like either. In fact I hate the chemo, even if it is doing some good. It is a bitter, venomous drug with noxious effects.
your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne,
into the midst of the land that was doomed,
a stern warrior
carrying the sharp sword of your authentic command,
and stood and filled all things with death,
and touched heaven while standing on the earth.
Then at once apparitions in dreadful dreams greatly troubled them,
and unexpected fears assailed them;
and one here and another there, hurled down half dead,
made known why they were dying;
for the dreams that disturbed them forewarned them of this,
so that they might not perish without knowing why they suffered.
The experience of death touched also the righteous,
and a plague came upon the multitude in the desert,
but the wrath did not long continue.
The dreaded Angel of Death, so Wisdom has it, is made better by the people knowing why they had to suffer. I know I have to suffer the chemo to overcome the cancer, but it is suffering nonetheless. And I feel half dead as a lingering side effect. The Angel of Death is portrayed as a warrior leaping from heaven. The chemo is a warrior as well, hopefully making it possible for God to work in me. The Angel of Death at least discriminated who would become victim to death. Chemo, not so much, as it destroys good and evil. The medical plan is that it will destroy more evil than good, so the good will survive and revive.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Luke 10:30
There is that half dead again. Technically it is the cancer which is the robbers, but the chemo leaves me in much the same condition as the robbers left the victim in the Good Samaritan parable. I need Christ to pick me up.
I find in my sufferings a great concern for all of those people of the Middle East suffering because of war, civil war, terrorism and Islamists. My trial is half over, but there is no way for any of them to know where they are in their suffering. I have hope that in the end, some good will result, but so many of them have nothing but uncertainty to face no matter how much they endure now. It is not at all clear which of the many battling factions would bring good to the region. May God help them all! Be merciful, O Lord, to those who are suffering throughout the Middle East. There are Your people there, Lord and they are suffering horribly.
For the suffering people of the world, as well as for myself I turn to God with the Prayer in Time of Need:
Almighty God, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, come to my help and deliver me from this difficulty that besets me. I believe, Lord, that all trials of life are under Your care and that all things work for the good of those who love You. Take away from me fear, anxiety and distress. Help me to face and endure my difficulty with faith, courage and wisdom. Grant that this trial may bring me closer to You, for You are my rock and refuge, my comfort and hope, my delight and joy. I trust in Your love and compassion. Blessed is Your name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.