It sounds too good to be true. An all-expense paid vacation to the Universal Studios Resort in Orlando with limitless front-of-the-line passes to sidestep the pitied patrons waiting 90 minutes for a 90-second thrill ride. There’s just one catch; your kid must have cancer.
In the fall of 2012, the American Cancer Society invited our family to ROCK weekend which is a 3-day getaway organized on behalf of families with a newly-diagnosed cancer kid. The organizers plan engaging activities for the cancer kids and their siblings while parents attend informative seminars on managing life after the diagnosis.
I’ve never seen so many bald children in one place. But what was so striking to me that weekend was the unity that the group of worry-weary parents exhibited in that hotel conference center. Cancer is not biased. It strikes the poor, the rich, the middle class and it doesn’t care if you’re black or white. Though the families that weekend were diverse in makeup, we were unified in experience. As parents, we had found ourselves thrust into a do-or-die fight for our kid’s life after hearing that awful decree, “Your child has cancer”.
There was an undeniable solidarity and fellowship among the families that weekend. There were moms talking to other moms about the daily struggles of keeping up with the countless prescriptions, the endless clinic visits, and the crushing heartache of poor test results. Dads chatted with other dads about the struggle of juggling jobs, paying medical bills, and attempting to maintain sanity at home. We felt a natural affection for each other as involuntary members of an elite yet unpleasant club. Strangers otherwise, we found unity in our experience.
There were no celebrities at the event but you sure wouldn’t know it by the way the doctors were honored and praised. They were the saviors walking amongst us. The hopes of every mom and dad rested on the knowledge and expertise of these white-coated angels. We hung on every word they offered, recognizing them as the only thing standing between our child and a future funeral.
I left that weekend thankful for a relaxing reprieve. Yet, I couldn’t help but see the obvious truth that God was pressing into me during those three days.
After all, isn’t that really a picture of the story of God’s people? Our plight was no different than those bald-headed kids and their parents. In truth, our situation was even more severe. Each of us was diagnosed with a previously hidden but unquestionably fatal heart condition. Each of us was given no choice but to rest our hopes for a remedy on the shoulders of someone far greater than ourselves.
The unity and brotherhood exhibited at ROCK weekend is exactly what we would expect to see from God’s people.
I suppose there is one big difference. In the case of the Church, the Great Physician not only diagnosed the problem, He became the cure. He provided a remedy through a red cross covered in life-giving blood that freely flows to anyone who would receive it.
If we had spiritual eyes to see, Sunday mornings might look a lot more like that weekend in Orlando. If we perceived our fate as clearly as those parents, we might be just as desperate to hear a Word from our Healer. If we truly believed the implications of our diagnosis and its ultimate cure, our hearts would be overwhelmed with praise and adoration for the Savior who stood between us and eternal death. We’d be far less likely to settle for a unity that is built on something less than Jesus blood and righteousness.