Life changes in the blink of an eye and it seems we are never fully prepared!

 by Bob Arnold

              

In January of this year I was diagnosed with a form of aggressive prostate cancer. In my biopsy, the doctor did 12 probes and all 12 probes had cancer. The cancer was on a Gleason Scale 9 out of 10 with 10 being the most       aggressive form. In the next few weeks I began all kinds of medical tests to see if the cancer had  metastasized. Fortunately, it had not spread to any parts of my body. At the same time, I begin an inner journey of what it meant to have cancer. When I was first told, I was in a state of shock. My first thoughts were that perhaps I had done all that I would be able to do in my lifetime.  As I had further thoughts of death, I thought maybe that would not be so bad. I would join the many friends and my beloved daughter who had died before me. It seemed like an exciting prospect.

  But my thoughts began to shift. Because of being so much of a people person, I so much wanted to share my journey with others. God thought otherwise. He wanted this to be an issue between Him, myself and Jeanne. In the days ahead I spent great amounts of time being with Him, receiving His compassion and care. I began to contemplate what I would need to do to be cured of my cancer. My doctor recommended robotic surgery and completely removing my prostate because of the extent of my disease. After much research and a better understanding of prostate cancer I took my doctor’s advice and had the surgery on February 20th. I had little effects from the surgery and spent the night reading a book on Aquinas and Francis of Assisi by G. K. Chesterton. The doctor was able to remove the cancer from the prostate except for some that had overflowed from the prostate onto nearby tissue. After I heal from the initial surgery I will undergo radiation later this year to eradicate the remaining cancer cells. 

  Over the last few months while still doing the ministry at The Meadow, I spent a great deal of time contemplating and praying through the many emotional and spiritual issues of life after cancer. Suffering is an emotional and spiritual battle, but I became aware of the energy that suffering creates. It is energy that gives you a new look into life. I became very aware of the shortness of life. We all know that life is short but when confronted with our own death, we have a deeper insight into life’s shortness and frailties. I did not suffer from a sense that my life was wasted and that now I need to make up for all that was lost. Just the opposite was true.  I felt tremendous thankfulness of how God had rescued my life and that He had given me a great vision for working for His kingdom. I had been given this great opportunity to make a difference in others’ lives. Over 40 years at Youth for Christ, I had many opportunities to impact young people with the message and love of Jesus Christ. My ministry in Maryland and around our country and the world were things I could have never dreamed of. 

  In the past few months, even though the surgery was physically successful, I was faced by my own dark night of the soul. To me the dark night of the soul is a time when God walks you through spiritual battles. In the past few days, I was made aware that all I’ve been going through was a time of preparation for the remainder of my life. The energy created by suffering has created more compassion and mercy especially for those who face difficulties. In 2 Corinthians these words have never rung more true; “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”  As I move into the next phase of life, I see it as a time to walk even deeper into the depths of God’s love. The energy I received from my suffering will be energy directed to give hope to people in life’s sufferings.   I thank God for an amazing wife, an amazing family and great friends and also the ministry of The Meadow. I will continue to use my gifts and The Meadow to inspire people to embrace God’s love and compassion and to help people enrich their relationship with Jesus Christ.

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