by Thom Chartier, Oblate
Romans 5:1-2, 5-8
Although this reflection is personal and about my own journey, it’s my hope that those who hear or read it can relate to it through their own experiences. We all have stories, for God has many paths for His people.
In May of 2007, my wife Cheri was declared cancer-free after five years of treatment, follow-up, and monitoring. We were freed from the bonds of cancer, out of the wilderness. Praise God! We reveled in our new-found freedom, enjoying life, each other, our family. But oh! like the Israelites in Exodus, how quickly I forgot to give thanks and praise to God Almighty.
In July of the same year, Cheri developed a cough that steadily increased in severity. She finally made a doctor’s appointment and at the visit on September 13 we were told her cancer had returned, but this time it had spread to her lungs, bones, and other organs. It was terminal. It was devastating.
In Ephesians 5:14, Paul calls Christians to wake from their sleep and let Christ give them His light. Cheri’s prognosis was certainly a rude awakening. The next six months we continued to enjoy life, each other, and our family as best we could. We loved each other, our children, and our grandchildren in those remaining months, with laughter and tears through the grace of God. I was blessed to hold Cheri’s hand as she breathed her last earthly breath. We were surrounded by our loving children and the Holy Spirit.
Following Cheri’s funeral, after all the family and friends who provided physical and emotional support had gone, reality set in. My adult children settled into their new normal, but I was left alone and afraid. Chloe, my eight-year-old granddaughter, had always loved spending time – days and even weeks – with her Grammie. I was afraid that, without her Grammie, I would lose Chloe, too.
However, Chloe wanted to spend weekends with me. And did we ever! We would go out to dinner, go to hockey games, or just spend time making up games. God was using Chloe to breathe new life back to my broken heart. Like the Samaritan woman at the well, I began to listen with the ear of my heart. Chloe was my well, the beginning of my understanding of Jesus the Savior. As we read in Psalm 71:
“You made me witness many troubles and evils, but you will give me back my life.
You will raise me up from the depths of the earth; you will exalt me and console me again.”
In the hymn Here I Am Lord, we sing:
“Here I am Lord. Is it I Lord? I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if You lead me. I will hold Your people in my heart.”
My closing prayer is Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.