Retinoblastoma is a tricky cancer. It is not an environmental cancer (like lung cancer than can result from smoking). The framework for retinoblastoma is laid in utero. And there is nothing that can be done to prevent it.
This week the kids and I have been learning Psalm 139:13-16. (I learned it years and years ago. It is a passage that is stuck in my head. Some things you memorize, you forget. This is one thing I've never forgotten.) I love this in the poetic KJV...
For thou hast possessed my inward parts: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously (intricately) wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfected (unformed); and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
These verses resonated with me as I thought about them this week.
We use this verse quite often in talking about abortion, and why it is wrong. But, this week my thoughts went much farther than that application.
The Psalmist had confidence that God knew everything about him, before he was even born. God designed him, and wrote the specifics of that design in a book. God created him according to those specifications. This all happened before birth, in utero, and even conception.
God formed him and covered him in the womb. The word covered, when used about God, makes me think of other Biblical word pictures, like the eagle covering her young with her wings. Or as Psalm 91 puts it...
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty...He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
What a picture of protection, nourishing, and safety!
Though I'd never volunteer Meres (or anyone else) to have retinoblastoma, it is still beautiful to me that God knew all about it, before she was even conceived. God planned her, and formed her, and brought her to birth.
Five years later, we were made aware of this cancer that had started way back in the womb. But, God was covering her from the womb.
Even though she lacked the gene that would prevent retinoblastoma...
I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well!
Meres certainly is a marvelous work-with or without retinoblastoma. She is fearfully and wonderfully made. This truth reverberates in my soul. There is no doubt about it in my mind.
Psalm 139 continues...(verses 17-18)
I love this too. God's thoughts about Meres are precious and vast and more numerous than the sand.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
Meres' retinoblastoma shocked us, and rocked our world. It didn't shock God. He knew, He formed, He covered. He has purposed this physical feature of Meres' to bring Him glory. His thoughts towards her are precious, multitudinous, and peaceful. God is with her, upholding her in His righteous right hand.
Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation. (Psalm 91:5-16)
This journey has been gut wrenchingly hard, but God has been faithful through it all. He keeps His promises, He does not change. He has been with us in this trouble, He has delivered us, and shown His salvation.
This story of retinoblastoma has become our story. Our story is our testimony. God is good, and faithful, and gracious, and powerful, and merciful.