With all the bad news in the world, it's nice to get a praise report like the one I received from my friend and mentor, Pastor Jack Hayford in the newsletter below.
We'd been praying for his wife, Anna, who learned on March 4 she had pancreatic cancer after she began having significant abdominal pain. Doctors said she had as little as four months and maybe up to a year to live.
That was just less than six months ago. She's had some intensive chemotherapy since. But as Pastor Hayford shares in his own words, her energy is still good and she's not enduring a lot of pain--which is usually expected with this type of cancer.
A few days ago, the Hayfords sent the newsletter to some leaders with The King's University, the Church of the Foursquare Gospel Pastoral list and also to a list of people at Church on the Way. I got a copy and realized others in the wider Christian community would want to get this excellent report, and also to pray.
Next Monday Anna begins another round of chemotherapy. She needs our prayers. She isn't totally out of danger yet. In fact, she will get a CAT scan, which will tell the doctors what is happening with the cancer.
I consider it a miracle she is doing this well. When I called Pastor Hayford about this column, she answered the phone and, to me, she sounded like her old self.
If you have an intercessory prayer group, please add this prayer request, so send this report to everyone you think will be interested in Pastor Hayford's update and who also will feel led to pray for Anna.
It is with the deepest of feelings that Anna and I have received the many cards, calls and letters sent to us over the past three and a half months. We read every one—and our hearts have been deeply moved by the demonstration of love, encouragement and affirmations of your abiding prayers.
From the time that we received the first diagnosis of the assault of cancer on Anna's liver/pancreas, the startling news was almost instantly countered within our souls by a flood tide of peace The Father poured into and over us. That peace has continued—unwavering through every day, week and month since then. Such all encompassing a sovereign display of His grace, as we simply "rest" in Him with childlike trust, sustains our deep sense of His presence overshadowing us both.
At the same time, the constant intercession you have already joined has had a very profound impact; something of a "kingdom warfare" that is both defending and advancing against the Adversary's attack. For this, I first want to thank YOU—to say to each one, "Your part in surrounding Anna with (a) a strong wall of defense, and (b) a marked sense of God's presence and His healing grace is undoubtedly the reason that I am able to write with A POSITIVE REPORT that is becoming verified daily."
First, the evidence of the CT scan done only two weeks ago shows: (1) there is an introductory reduction of the cancer itself (6%); (2) there is no intrusion into the lymph glands, and (3) the liver shows a marked absence of some of the earlier impact of the cancer. Those three gains followed 12 weeks—6 chemo infusions—one every two weeks accompanied by a mountain-moving volume of prayer. As I write, we are one week into the second series of six infusions, which will take us through September.
As positive as that report is, it is certainly enough to awaken high praise to God for manifest signs of His grace upon us. However, there is an even more distinct sign of God's hand mightily at work. There is a sustaining of Anna's strength and comfort as she has moved through these weeks of chemotherapy. Though the impact of such strong chemicals as those being used generally take a heavy toll on the body of patients undergoing chemotherapy, the amazing—indeed, miraculous—feature of Anna's condition is that she feels good—basically, normal—ALL THE TIME!! Let me explain.
The first day following her first infusion—now nearly 3 months ago, I remember very clearly, her response the morning afterward. When we woke that day, I asked, "How do you feel today?" She softly replied, "Honey, I hurt all over!" Neither complaint nor melodrama are my wife's style. But her sense of pain moved us to a deepened sense of needed support.
Until that morning, for the preceding three weeks we had only shared the fact of the diagnosis of cancer with our family and a small number of friends, inviting their prayers while asking a small group of elders to pray for Anna—anointing her with oil as the Word directs (James 5:13-16). We were reticent to appear exploitive of the God-given favor and larger recognition our years of ministry have brought, and we hesitated to allow word to be spread. This was not a quest for secrecy or to preserve our privacy. We did, however, not want to appear to exploit the moment or bring undue attention to ourselves.
However, I suddenly realized the subtlety of the lie the Adversary sows in so many dear people's minds; isolating themselves so as to "not bother anyone with my problems." How often does he succeed in suggesting there is either a humility or spiritual nobility in withdrawing! But that morning, I was shaken—recognizing the folly of such reticence. We ALL need the Body of Christ!! The number to whom we turn is not the issue: the Lord our God "can save by many or by few!" The principle is the issue: None of us"lives or dies unto ourselves!"
I took action that day, once again learning as I have so many times: how vulnerable we all are to the lying ploys of The Enemy's deception—even supposing there is a wisdom in our "not bothering anyone with my need or problems." I made phone calls to three friends: our pastor at The Church On The Way, Tim Clark; the president of our Foursquare movement, Glenn Burris; and the president of The King's University, John Spurling. I had already disclosed the situation to these brethren before, yet asked that they not yet make broader announcement yet.
As a result, word was widely spread, and today the unmistakable "sign" of Anna is constantly feeling comfortable, without pain and in bright spirits. Even our doctors are impressed—pleased, but expressing a bit of surprise—they rejoiced with us, and encouraged us to take the cruise we had scheduled many months before.
THUS, to witness the fact of her remarkable, day-by-day, everyday feeling of wellness, normalcy, etc. is only explainable in one way: THAT EXPLANATION IS PRAYER! THE PRAYERS OF HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS who are part of a host who have risen to stand at our side, "lifting up the hands that hang down"—standing firm in faith for the larger issue of her healing.
And, OHHH that there were words to adequately describe how greatly we thank the Lord for YOU—each one of the brothers and sisters who have reached out to us and lifted my dear Lady into the presence of God!
So, I am answering YOU ... whether you wrote a card or note, letter or personal call—or visited to express loving concern and a promise to pray or a reconnect with love. I trust you will know: your "caring" registered with us, AND God is answering your prayers! As you continue, we expect victory-unto-victory. The battle is not over yet, but the boundaries of wellness in Anna's system are steadily being moved toward health. With gratitude to God for all, including those physicians whose medical gifts are serving us, we thank Him for "every good and perfect gift (that) comes from above" and we laud and applaud Him daily and, for that matter, nightly as well. Anna and I sing together each night to proclaim, "Great is Thy faithfulness, O God our Father; there is no shadow of turning with Thee."
May He abundantly bless, keep and prosper your way. Thank you for showing His love toward us.
With an overflowing heart of gratitude ...
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