Food for thought...
I don't know if these are indeed the words of Tony Snow but they have been attributed to him as his personal testimony of his ordeal with cancer.
And I do not know how I would handle imminent death. But what Tony has supposedly penned here is how I feel about it right now. Hopefully, that feeling will last until I cross over.
'Blessings arrive in unexpected packages, - in my case, cancer. Those of us with potentially fatal diseases - and there are millions in America today - find ourselves in the odd position of coping with our mortality while trying to fathom God's will. Although it would be the height of presumption to declare with confidence 'What It All Means,' Scripture provides powerful hints and consolations.
The first is that we shouldn't spend too much time trying to answer the 'why' questions: Why me? Why must people suffer? Why can't someone else get sick? We can't answer such things, and the questions themselves often are designed more to express our anguish than to solicit an answer.
I don't know why I have cancer, and I don't much care. It is what it is, a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.
But despite this, - or because of it, - God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don't know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face.
Second, we need to get past the anxiety. The mere thought of dying can send adrenaline flooding through your system. A dizzy, unfocused panic seizes you. Your heart thumps; your head swims. You think of nothingness and swoon. You fear partings; you worry about the impact on family and friends. You fidget and get nowhere.
To regain footing, remember that we were born not into death, but into life,- and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many non-believing hearts... an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live fully, richly, exuberantly - no matter how their days may be numbered.
Third, we can open our eyes and hearts. God relishes surprise. We want lives of simple, predictable ease,- smooth, even trails as far as the eye can see.... but God likes to go off-road. He provokes us with twists and turns. He places us in predicaments that seem to defy our endurance; and comprehension - and yet don't. By His love and grace, we persevere. The challenges that make our hearts leap and stomachs churn invariably
strengthen our faith and grant measures of wisdom and joy we would not experience otherwise.
'You Have Been Called'. Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet, a loved one holds your hand at the side. 'It's cancer,' the healer announces.
The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. 'Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler.' But another voice whispers: 'You have been called.' Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter... and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our 'normal time.'
There's another kind of response, although usually short-lived an inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tiny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions.
The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies. Think of Paul, traipsing through the known world
and contemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes ( Spain ), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment.
There's nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue, - for it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do.
Finally, we can let love change everything. When Jesus was faced with the prospect of crucifixion, he grieved not for himself, but for us. He cried for Jerusalem before entering the holy city. From the Cross, he took on the cumulative burden of human sin and weakness, and begged for forgiveness on our behalf.
We get repeated chances to learn that life is not about us, that we acquire purpose and satisfaction by sharing in God's love for others. Sickness gets us part way there. It reminds us of our limitations and dependence. But it also gives us a chance to serve the healthy. A minister friend of mine observes that people suffering grave afflictions often acquire the faith of two people, while loved ones accept the burden of two peoples' worries and fears.
'Learning How to Live'. Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God's arms, not with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by transmitting the power and authority of love.
I sat by my best friend's bedside a few years ago as a wasting cancer took him away. He kept at his table a worn Bible and a 1928 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. A shattering grief disabled his family, many of his old friends, and at least one priest. Here was an humble and very good guy, someone who apologized when he winced with pain because he thought it made his guest uncomfortable. He retained his equanimity and good humor literally until his last conscious moment. 'I'm going to try to beat [this cancer],' he told me several months before he died 'But if I don't, I'll see you on the other side.'
His gift was to remind everyone around him that even though God doesn't promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity, - filled with life and love we cannot comprehend, - and that one can in the throes of sickness point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms.
Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don't matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?
When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it. It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us
up, - to speak of us!
This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.
What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don't know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us who believe, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place, in the hollow of God's hand.'
Thank you, Tony, for shedding light.
That was deeper than most of the stuff churned out in major media for the last 40 years. It is always a pleasure to know someone who is no longer afraid of death, and I must say that he was refreshing to talk with even when you disagreed with him.
BTW, the quote also got a hit on this website, and this blog was attributing that entire piece to Tony Snow. Here is a blog entry about it--
That would leave me speechless, but let me first thank you for sharing it Boot. I needed that.
Tony Snow, R.I.P.
michellemalkin.com Found 14 days, 1 hour, 41 minutes, and 48 seconds ago
Classy. When all is said and done though, being accused of not always having a command of the facts by an Associated Press writer is like Joe Hazelwood calling you a lousy boat skipper, and as such doesn't really qualify as an effective insult. Tony's humanity always shined in his writing. This is from a column he wrote for Christianity Today last July reflecting on his bout with cancer: Blessings arrive in unexpected packages-in my case, cancer.
It's great to be alive and pumping oxygen!
That was a good story, thanks Boot, I can relate to it very good.
When I was 41, I was at my GP getting presciptions refilled, and he wanted to do blood work, I told him to do a PSA test too, the said that I didn't need it as I was still to young, I told him I was having a hard time taking a wizz, and my Dad had died from prostate cancer, so he had them check the PSA.
The results came back, my psa was 4.5, 0-4 is normal, but he sent me to a urologist, the urologist told me 4.5 isn't to high if I was 70 yrs old, and wanted to do some tests. The first one was the finger, he was pushing hard, and asked if it hurt, and I told him no, but I think it should, and he said that I should be in some pretty good pain, so we scheduled the biopsy test, and it came back positive that I did have cancer, that there was a two ways to treat it, take it out or use a relatively new procedure, radio active seeds, but he thought it would be better to remove it so we did. (thank God they invented Viagra)
Anyway everything was good for about 4 years, I would get checked every 6 months, but all the sudden the PSA went up, so he sent me to an oncologist, first thing he said is I have to lose 50 lbs or the radiation dose that he would have to give me would kill me, and scheduled a bunch of tests.
So I start on the diet of my life, went and did all the tests, was losing weight fast, (the no beer thing was killing me!) one of the tests took about three days, inject with differant radioactive stuff come back etc, but I was sitting at the parts counter in Carrier a week or so later, and the oncologist called me on my cell phone, and said that they had gotten the results back from the tests, and that the cancer had gotten into my lymph nodes I can't remember the name of it but that there was nothing that could be done, I said what do you mean, he rather coldly said that the cancer I have is terminal, and there was no treatment for it, that I needed to talk to my urologist.
I forgot why I was in Carrier, I just walked out and got in my truck and headed home called my wife and told her I needed to make an appointment with the urologist, trying to be as calm as I could. She called me back in a few minutes and told me he was on vacation for the next two weeks, that she made the first appointment she could get, about then I lost it all, I told her what he had said, man that sucked.
So for two weeks I waited did all the research I could on the faithful internet, only to find out what the oncologist said was true. And during this time my Mother died, she was 82 and had just gotten through radiation from breast cancer.
Well the urologist finally got back, that was a long two weeks, I went there and told him what the oncologist said, and he said that's impossible, that he removed all the lymph nodes around my prostate when he took it out, that it just wasn't possible.
Well a couple of days later the urologist called and said that after further research the test that said I had cancer in my lymph system, that cost $14,000 was wrong 40% of the time and showed a positive when there was none.
So back on the diet, lost 80 lbs went through Chemo and radiation, and have been good for the last 7 years.
Sorry such a long post, but alot sure goes through your mind in a situation like that.
But I did get some revenge, the oncologist hired me to do his A/C work, and that SOB paid dearly