Archive for the ‘Suffering’ Category

Two Years after Diagnosis and MRI Tomorrow
November 12, 2012

From James:

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the original MRI revealing So Young’s brain tumor. It’s an interesting coincidence that we have another important MRI taking place tomorrow, this time to assess the effectiveness of the chemo after the tumor began growing again, this time rapidly on her brain stem.

Once again we want to thank everyone for your prayers and many ways of showing support. A couple of examples: My colleagues at the State Department generously donated money to pay for medical expenses, many of whom have never met So Young or the girls. Also, you may have read a few comments on the blog recently from Seattle. These are friends of Ann, a beloved friend of So Young’s with whom she shared Christ just after the diagnosis. Ann became a Christian, moved across the country, and found a new family of believers to whom she is now a blessing. They’ve been writing on the blog to tell So Young how the legacy she left with Ann has carried over as a blessing to them. It’s such a meaningful thing for So Young to hear. It shows her that her life has made a difference in the midst of suffering. Those are just two examples. There are many more.

I want to ask for your prayers for my coworker Jennifer, who has posted comments on this blog before and continues to show support and concern for So Young. She recently underwent serious back surgery and is recovering. She could really use your prayers as well.

I’ll tweet the results of So Young’s MRI tomorrow, possibly around 4 p.m. or so. Thanks again for everything!

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Old Friends
March 14, 2012

From James:

So Young’s condition has remained largely the same over the past few months. She is generally in good health (under the circumstances) and most definitely in good spirits. She is often tired and weak. Originally, we thought that this was just hypothyroidism brought on by the tumor and radiation, but having met with an endocrinologist, we discovered that it is most likely hypopituitarism, which in turn causes hypothyroidism and other issues.

This is how it works. So Young’s tumor is in her thalamus. The thalamus affects the hypothalamus, which in turn affects the pituitary, which in turn affects the thyroid and various other things. The pituitary is compromised indirectly, so it doesn’t do its job of commanding the thyroid properly, causing lethargy, muscle weakness and pain, etc. And oh by the way a lack of desire to run (the infamous “exercise intolerance”).

Hence the marathon is entirely metaphorical at the moment. Sadly, neither of us is running the Historic Half this year either, although a dear friend is training to run it in So Young’s name.

Even though not much has changed recently, So Young is “energized,” she says, by all of the people who still come up to her and say that they are praying for her or ask how she is doing. There’s nothing we want more than your prayers right now.

So Young feels that her close-up vision is improving. When she brings something like that up, you know it is significant. Evidently your prayers are working.

This past weekend was remarkable in that God brought several old friends to us for encouragement, one a church friend from perhaps seven or more years ago, and others college friends from 15+ years ago. I have been puzzling over why God did this all at once. What message is He trying to send us? I think that I see one message there about suffering and what it means to the Christian. Christianity has a very rich and complete perspective on suffering. After all, our God suffered on earth as a man. What more is there to say?

So among the old friends we saw this weekend some have suffered greatly over these past years, with emotionally devastating circumstances and even facing death itself. Of course, you look at old friends and ask yourself, “How has he changed? For the better? For the worse?” Everybody looks at the externals at first. “He lost weight.” Or “Ah, he really does look his age.” But what about the insides? How often do we look at that? Well, I can say that looking at our Christian friends who have suffered, one word comes to mind about their insides: Complete. That is, they have been made more complete, more mature, and undoubtedly with greater faith than before. They seem to be fulfilling James 1:2-4, which one of my suffering friends says makes him “cringe,” although it’s true: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

This is strange, because it isn’t what you would expect from loss. You would expect disillusionment, depression. And indeed my friends have tasted those as well, but that’s not the end of it. At the end of their suffering they find a Christ who is “there” in their suffering, who will not leave them as orphans, and who has in fact “been there” in similar circumstances. Knowing that our suffering is doled out for our benefit and that it is short compared to eternity is a comfort to us.

Pray for our next MRI. It is on April 30. We love you all and thank you for running the race with us!