We found out accidentally that Jaime’s cancer had appeared to spread. The infectious doctor had come in to tell Jaime that all of the tests were clear, but that there were signs of spread in the brain. “Wait! No one told us that yet. What do you mean it has spread?” I angrily asked. Before he could duck for cover, “Storm” one of Jaime’s amazing doctors came in and let the other doctor know that she would take it from there. I asked her to tell us what was going on and she repeated the words I already couldn’t believe I had heard the first time. Soon thereafter, Dr. Alemany came in the room and said that the team had looked at the most recent tests, and compared it to the rapid decline in Jaime’s health, and had determined her cancer had begun to spread. When they had left us alone, I was speechless. While they had always been upfront with us, telling us what Jaime was up against, providing the detailed bad scenario, we now were living the “what if?” part of the story. Jaime and I talked for a short time and for some strange reason neither one of us cried in front of the other. She looked at me and said, “We can’t act surprised. They said this could happen.” We both agreed to share the news publicly and begin to transition the public battle against Jaime’s cancer to a private (just the three of us) goodbye. I can’t begin to tell you how many emails and texts we both received. While all were supportive, a few begged Jaime and I not to give up the fight. At first, I was quite angry at those responses. I mean, what did they think Jaime had done every second of every day? I look back now and can say that those individuals responded in light of the “No, not this time.” In my transparent sharing of the news that Jaime’s cancer would not be cured and that she would soon be gone from this life, I touched on that by saying, “We join many of you in believing that God can do anything and that He can heal Jaime if He chooses to do that. Jaime and I, though, cannot pretend that all that has been shared is not real and that somehow if we just pray harder that it will all go away. For those of you who disagree – respectfully do so privately and know that Jaime and I prayed stronger than all of you in June that her cancer would go away and that she would not have the outcome they told us was likely – the outcome that is unfolding at this time. We believe in God. We believe in miracles. We also believe that He chooses what those miracles look like and that sometimes He says “No.”
God’s “No” can be difficult to receive. Especially when we have conjured an image in our minds that there is no way that He would ever allow suffering in our lives. To maintain this image of God, though, we have to willfully forget the sorrow and pains of our past, or the reality that our brothers and sisters on this planet will or have all experienced pain and loss. God’s “No” can sometimes be less painful. I received one of those responses today, when a position I had applied to in Colorado ended with a phone call and my being told they were going to hire someone else. With God’s grace, I received the “No” as what it really was – “No, not this one.” The blow was less painful because I remembered, He has something better for me and He has a perfect moment to reveal the assignment. For so many, it was difficult to see that God had something better for Jaime. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I wonder why God couldn’t allow me to be part of that “something better.” But again, I am looking through the eyes of loss, as opposed to seeing the complete picture. God’s “no” for Jaime was not about disassembling our marriage and family. It was about completing the process put into place for all of His creation – to return back to Him. Jaime traded in the burden of cancer and received the blessing of eternity. Her “no” was essentially a “Yes! It’s time to come home! Well done my good and faithful servant!”
Like many of you, I stand on tiptoe waiting on God to move on my behalf. I am well aware that after this answer, I will be back time and time again waiting on Him to provide direction. It’s how I respond to the “No, not this” that ultimately prepares me for the “Yes.” So tonight I thank God for the “No.” As reminded by my wife, I will not be surprised when the “No” is given – as if it was never a possible response! I will not respond to the “No” as if it is the end of the world, or take it personally as if I was the only person who received a “No” today. His “No, not this one” is a visible reminder that He continues to take care of me along the journey and that His “Yes” (best!) is down the road in a place that was prepared for me all along.