Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Watch & Wait, by M

Did you know that there is an actual treatment protocol for certain cancers called "watch and wait"? I didn’t know this was a real thing until I started spending every working hour talking about cancer. But it is a very real cancer treatment. And by "cancer," I mean full-blown cancer cells… we’re not talking "pre-cancer" or "could-be cancer." There are a group of people who go to the doctor, receive a cancer diagnosis, and they are told that their treatment will not be chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, or any clinical trial. Instead, it will be "watch and wait."

What a terrifying thing, right!? Before I started working at my current job, I had heard a rumor of this and I thought it to be the most ridiculous thing in the universe. I proudly declared that if I was ever in those shoes, I would not tolerate watching and waiting… I’d scour the country to find someone, anyone who would give me an actual treatment. How could watching and waiting be advisable to anyone who has cancer growing inside them?

Well, now I know better.Now, I know patients who are watching and waiting, and I know exactly why they’re doing it. Turns out, it is a better way. Who knew?

The deal with watching and waiting is that it is a defensive posture. At first, that seems silly in the face of such a formidable opponent. Why not go on the offensive? Why not be proactive about things? But, there are good reasons for this choice. There are clear, researched, medically-sound reasons for why watching and waiting is more advisable in certain scenarios than blasting the body with chemotherapy and radiation are. Email me if you want to know specifically (I find it fascinating to talk about, clearly).

So, I say all of this to make a point that "watch and wait" is a very real and advisable treatment for certain people. It is NOT a "non-treatment", as I previously assumed. There are benefits to heading this protocol and great dangers in bypassing it. And, I say all this to communicate something really important… that watching and waiting (in life) is also not to be dismissed. As Ecclesiastes says, there is a "season for every activity under the sun." I am learning that there is certainly a season for watching and waiting. And that season is important.

My life is all about watching and waiting these days. As I mentioned in my previous post, it seems like everyone else is moving full-steam ahead in their lives, while God has written me a prescription for watch and wait. It is totally frustrating at times… I just want to know what is going to happen in the coming months. I want to know where I will live, what I will drive, where I will work, what my community will look like, where my relationship is going, what my financial situation will be. Right now, I have no answers. Well, except a whisper from God… "Monica, watch and wait."

So, I’m learning to find the value in it. You know who else had to watch and wait? Pretty much every one of the Bible's heroes. The story I’m landing on the most, though, is Sarah and Abraham. Man they were waiting a long time! Sarah and Abraham (or should I say Sarai and Abram?) had both lived 75 years childless. At that point, God promised that they would have offspring... tick tock, tick tock... Nothing. We often look at the story of Abraham, Hagar, and Ishmael and think to ourselvs "holy cow! Couldn't they have just a little more patience? Didn't they trust God at all!?" Yet, Genesis 16 tells us that Ishmael was born when Abraham was 86 years old. That's 8+ years of waiting. Wouldn't your patience and trust wane? I know mine would.

Moreover, God doesn't speak again on the subject until 15 years after the original promise (that makes Abraham 90 years old). Tick tock, tick tock... nothing. 9 years after that, God tells Abraham again that he will have a son... tick tock, tick tock...  and finally, Sarah bears Isaac at 100 years old. 25 years of waiting. Sarah and Abraham got a big-time command to watch and wait. They tried and failed to trust this "protocol"... they took their future into their own hands and the decendants of Ishmael suffered mightily for it. For them, as for us, there were good reasons for the watching and the waiting.

Thus, I'm trying to trust this. I'm trying to remind myself that watch and wait is not a time out. It doesn't mean that God has forgotten me or forsaken me. Rather, perhaps it means that something greater is awaiting me at another appointed time or, perhaps that taking now what is reserved for my future would result in damage of some sort. Who knows. Either way, I know that I'm in good company here in this holding cell... and I pray that I may be a good steward of this season, until it's my turn to make a move.

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