April 5 is Easter this year.
April 5th is also the day before I was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago.
I remember getting the news from the ER doctor who walked in after my x-ray and blood work. I had been in chronic pain for over month and was still feeling it’s bite even with a full dose of Vicodin.
“I’m sorry. This is the part of my job that I don’t like,” the doctor said, “but you have cancer and it’s extensive.”
I was sure at that moment that I was a dead man walking. The doctor had just said the “C-word”…malignant cancer spreading to my abdomen and wrapping around my right kidney and main artery in an attempt to squeeze the life out of me. I could envision the surgeon cutting me open during surgery and surveying my internal organs that now looked like a grey gelatinous mass. “Sew him up and send him home with morphine,” he’d say, “There’s nothing we can do…”
Cancer. The word feels like a death sentence, because for so many it is.
But I didn’t die then. In fact, in a couple hours later another doctor walked into the room. This doctor was an oncologist and she said, “It’s serious, but we can handle this.” I had faced death and suddenly I was given…hope.
Death and resurrection. That is the theme for me this year. Because 10 years ago, I saw death starring me in the face. Death. And resurrection.
And that is also the theme of Easter. We proclaim life, but it is always connected with death. Jesus’ death and resurrection. Our death and resurrection. That is the story of our faith.
Jesus rose again.
Jesus will come again.
And because he did. We will too.
I remember sneaking in the back of the church service during my 12 weeks of chemo. My hair had fallen out. My fingers tingled because of nerve damage. My blood vessels were burned. I didn’t have enough strength to talk to people, but I wanted to be in church. I needed to be in church…surrounded by God’s people singing. And so I would sing with tears in my eyes. Despite the pain. Despite the cancer.
And again, that is what we do on Easter. We sing in the face of pain and death. This is one of the things it means to be a disciple. We are made new. We bear His death and resurrection in our bodies and because of that, we sing. Jesus died and rose again.
This is not the end.