Have you ever had one of those moments in your life that’s so heavy you can’t stomach the reality you’re facing?
Yesterday, I found myself standing at the edge of such a moment.
A good friend, who happens to be my dermatologist, pulled a stool to the foot of the table in the doctor’s office, looked at me with calmness and grace and said, “Matt, the spot we removed was atypical. The biopsy has shown that it is a spreading malignant melanoma.”
“Does that mean it was cancer?” I said, puzzled. I didn’t need to hear her reply. The look in her eyes were the only answer I needed. Then, in confirmation, her head gently nodded.
“But, we got it. It’s gone. However, I want you to go next week to have a larger area removed.” Her partial smile was gentle and left no hint of fear.
I kept it together as I gathered my things, the lump in my throat growing with every step that I took toward the door. Before I left, my friend gave me a sweet, kind hug and said, “I’m thankful for whatever angel brought you in here. In a year, we may have been having a much different conversation. God has your back. You’re going to be fine.”
The ride down the elevator felt like I was descending into another world—a world that terrified me. By the time I exited the building my mind was under attack.
I nervously grabbed my cell phone and called my wife, who lost her father to cancer when he was only forty-three years old. Equally as difficult was sharing the news with my parents. Then I got the call that terrified me. It was my little brother. “Hey, Mom told me to give you a call. What’s going on?” He said.
I stuttered and stammered as I heard myself say, “It was cancer.”
The Enemy was already at work. Fear was present like a dark, ominous cloud. Lies and worry flooding me with emotion.
Yet in the midst of the exterior chaos, I heard a reassuring voice. It was a familiar, comforting voice whose light pierced the darkness. It was the truth of the gospel reminding me that this battle had already been won. I began shaking the fear from my mind as I searched for scripture to help me deflect the flaming arrows of the enemy.
“Do not give the devil a foothold.” —Ephesians 4:27
“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” —James 4:7
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” —2 Corinthians 12:9
I kept repeating these familiar phrases, until God granted me that clarity I was looking for.
Every year, I pick a word as my roadmap for what I believe God is doing in my life. Little did I know that when God gave me my word this year, He was challenging me beyond every comfort zone I had possibly imagined.
As I faced a cancer diagnosis, He gently reminded me that my word this year was, trust. Back in January I had no idea why I felt drawn to that word, but now I do.
It’s easy to give God lip service, but when you see the word cancer associated with your name, it forces you to stand on your convictions. In that moment, your trust must be established.
I’m now twenty-four hours removed from hearing those words—twenty-four hours that have been littered with questions. Yet, the only thing I feel like God wants me to do is write about it. Not to celebrate or draw attention to myself—if I’ve learned anything it’s how fleeting my life really is. I write to celebrate Him, the Author of life.
I’m reminded today that God’s story is not free of pain. It’s a story of suffering. It’s a story of brokenness. However, the beauty of God’s story is that brokenness is not the ending. We have hope because of Christ and only because of Christ. He has risen to overcome sin and death. In Him there is no fear, only power, love, and self-control.
And in His infinite love, God made an interesting choice: He granted us the freedom to choose.
Facing my own mortality reminded me that God loves me enough to let me choose. In that moment, all of the parables from the Bible began to make absolute sense.
True love gives you a choice: that’s the type of love that stands and waits at the door for the prodigal son to return home, that’s the type of love that comforts the elder brother whose pride has him shackled, that’s the type of love that leaves to search for the lost sheep, that’s the type of love that weeps with us, that’s the type of love that walks out of the tomb.
Where to From Here?
In Psalm 90, we find the prayer of Moses. In his words, I find peace today:
“Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” —Psalm 90:12
Today, I will begin number my days. Instead of placing my mind and my eyes on myself, I place my eyes and affections on Him. I will draw so close to Him because He is the only thing that remains. His love will become the catalyst for my soul.
And I will rejoice.
Today, you have that very same choice.
This morning, as I woke up to the first day after my cancer diagnosis, I found small snippets of paper waiting for me in all of my consistent places.
My wife wanted to remind me of the love of my Father and His call to trust.
So that is what I will do.
After my diagnosis and subsequent cancer-free prognosis, I created the RICH Life Challenge, a 7-day devotional series aimed at living those words from Moses’s prayer: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
If you’re looking for a catalyst to begin living with purpose, take the RICH Life Challenge absolutely free.
About the Author
Matt Ham is dedicated to guiding others toward rich living. His own experiences have led him to the understanding and freedom of a rich life, and through his RICH Principles he helps folks uncover true richness, identifying real treasure and discovering true joy and contentment.
You can order a limited hardback version of the book at www.redefinerich.com
To contact Matt, visit www.mattham.com/speaking