Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Take Courage

Cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz (Click here for video)

Courage: "the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery."

From the very beginning of this journey with disseminated malignant melanoma, I have asserted that the loving God in whom I put my trust has our highest good as His aim. He has firmly established this certainty through the sacrifice of His Son, offering us an overcoming, transformed life that will last for eternity.

While we live on a fallen and rebellious planet, however, we will face difficulties, reversals, challenges and tragedies. In the midst of our struggles, He graciously provides strength and opportunities to grow in character and in intimacy with Him. I am convinced that these circumstances are a demonstration of the wise and irresistible love of a holy God -- He cares more about my character than my comfort or career; He values purity of heart over prosperity; and offers greater rewards in longsuffering than longevity.

One of the areas of character that He has been patiently working on recently is that of personal courage. Although I have already survived far beyond any reasonable expectations, there is evidence that the cancer is advancing. I have recently experienced bouts of rather severe pain presumably due to new or growing metastases of the brain and skeleton.

With the help of Hospice Care we are, of course, adjusting pain meds (and the meds to combat the side effects of those meds). Yet I find myself surprised by what I deem a deficiency of courage and endurance when the pain is severe. Although I have sat at the bedside of many a patient going through terrible suffering, there is nothing like personal experience. I am still learning...

As I study examples of courage in scripture, here is what I observe: Courage is a character trait that, when appropriate, the Lord commands. For example, when given a specific mission, the warrior Joshua is told: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) Or as He speaks to Daniel: "O man of high esteem, do not be afraid. Peace be with you; take courage and be courageous!" (Daniel 10:19) This implies to me that, in the face of adversity, courage is a choice I can make... and it is up to me to make that choice. It also made possible because God is with me in the midst of the challenge.

I also notice that, unlike some other character traits identified in scripture as evidence of the transformative power of faith (see the fruit of the Spirit in Galations 5:22-23), courage is more active determination than it is my surrender to a supernatural enabling. I must take courage. Of course, in the face of adversity a loving God makes His resources known with promises such as "Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

I conclude that courage is a choice and a learned response, only evident in the face of threat or actual adversity. It is enabled by an ongoing intimate relationship with the One who, because of His great love for me, Himself endured incomparable suffering on a cross (Hebrews 12:2), overcoming death itself to ensure my eternal destiny: "He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces" (Isaiah 25:8)

In spite of persistent and numerous metastastes in both brain and elsewhere I am truly grateful that I still have the capacity and opportunity to gain eternal benefits from the experience. Not to be compared with the difficulties faced each day by the brave men and women serving in active duty military, or the public servants who repeatedly risk their lives to protect or rescue those in need, this ongoing battle with advancing cancer is yet teaching me what it means to take courage. Thank you so much for your many expressions of love and support while on this journey.

May we all have the nerve to trust Him more,
Dr Dan

PS -- Thank you Lord for the new heart you gave me when I first trusted in you. Now I could also use a new (tumor-free) brain! (Or, like Dorothy, get to go home :-)

11 comments:

  1. You are one amazing man. I have enjoyed your blogs and my heart aches for you and your family!You have an amazing family and You know that God is real and you are walking with him all the way! Keep fighting the good fight! You have touched me so much and I have never met you.My prayers are with you and your family!

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  2. God bless you Dr Dan,

    Mikey and I miss you so much. I truly love you and your beautiful family. I know God has substained you and will heal you. If you get the best healing and go to be with the Lord tell John I still love him and I'll be there soon.

    Your sister in Christ,

    Kaye Botelis
    Michael Cook

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  3. I always look forward to your posts. :D
    Praying daily for you and Linda in the battle.

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  4. Like an earthly "cloud of witnesses", we applaud with delight every overcoming victory you experience because of Christ. It gives each of us assurance that we also can overcome when forced into areas of perseverance and endurance.
    We thank God He is still giving you strength to witness to us of His marvelous grace in your life.

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  5. Dear Dr. Dan, I have been praying for you and your beautiful family since reading your blog. Yours words are so courageous and selfless. Thank you so much for your inspiring writings, they have been a great source of comfort to me during some challenging times. May God bless you for the help and comfort you are bringing to others! xoxo xoxo

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  6. sam and Cindy WallworkJanuary 29, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    Dan,

    Sam and I are praying, knowing that He is on the job completely. Thanks for always pointing us to Christ and that the victory is in Him.Be of good cheer, because He truly has overcome the world .
    We love you both,
    The Wallworks

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  7. Hey Dan and Hey to Linda too from us. We love reading your blogs- I have sent patients here too. Thanks so much for this legacy- it is awesome- what a ministry to others- thanks for answering "The call".
    Love you guys
    Pam & Kevin

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  8. We vote for the new, tumor-free brain!!
    God gives YOU 7 promises in the first verse of Psalm 41. Speak them over your life, out loud ~ remind YOURSELF what He said! He is faithful to keep His promises, but we must declare them to be promises for US!
    Psalm 41
    1 Blessed is he who considers the helpless, the poor and needy;
    The LORD will deliver him in the day of trouble.
    2 The LORD will protect him and keep him alive,
    And he shall be called blessed upon the earth;
    And do not give him over to the desire of his enemies, those evil cancer cells.
    3 The LORD will sustain him upon his sickbed;
    In his illness, You restore him to health.
    4 As for me, I said, "O LORD, be gracious to me; Heal me, for I have sinned against You."
    5 My enemies speak evil against me,
    "When will he die, and his name perish?"
    6 Whenever one cancer cell comes to see me, he speaks falsely;
    His heart gathers wickedness to itself;
    When he goes outside, he tells it.
    7 All those cancer cells who hate me whisper together against me;
    Against me they devise my hurt, saying,
    8 "A wicked thing is poured out upon him,
    That when he lies down, he will not rise up again." ...
    10 But You, O LORD, be merciful, be gracious to me and raise me up ...
    11 By this I know that You are pleased with me,
    Because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me.
    12 As for me, You uphold me in my integrity,
    And You set me in Your presence forever.
    13 Blessed be the LORD, the God of DAN CRABTREE,
    From everlasting to everlasting.
    Amen and Amen.

    We love you. Now, by the Power of God and by your faith in the Name of Jesus, BE HEALED!

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  9. I am a new believer and found your blog. You have proven to me that God helps us through even the unimaginable circumstances. That gives me hope and furthers my faith in Him. Thank you and God bless on your journey home.

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  10. Dr. Dan,

    You were my doctor more than 30 years ago here in Muskegon, MI. I never forgot your kindness, humor, wisdom, and gentle ways. Since you moved away, I have had several doctors...none of which had a an iota of your caring so I have drifted from one to another, looking for the excellence in care that I had become used to at your practice. A year ago, I finally was blessed to find another good soul in this town who's manner reminds me so much of you. I was very upset to hear of your illness and I have been following your journey for awhile now. If anyone on this earth deserves a miracle, it is you. While I know that you would move on to a wonderful place, I am selfish as I do not want you to leave this one. This world needs to hold on to kind, brave souls such as you.

    I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of the kindness that you showed that young girl all those years ago. I'm so glad that God and life blessed you so well all these years. I pray that He gives you many more.

    I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Dena Buikema

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  11. May the Lord continue to bless you and your family. The attitude you show and your love for the Lord are an inspiration to everyone, young and old, sick and healty. May you continue to find peace and comfort in your life.

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