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The day after radiation

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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The photon treatment unit at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas (Credit: Jim Denison)

Wind farms are advertised as environmentally-friendly energy producers.  However, I read in today’s news that they are now proven to cause a rise in temperature.  At night, the air closer to the ground becomes colder when the sun goes down and the earth cools.  But wind farm turbines mix the warmer air in the atmosphere with the colder air on the ground, resulting in higher temperatures.  This phenomenon could affect wildlife and regional weather patterns.

Sometimes the consequences of doing the right thing can make it hard to do the right thing.  That’s how Janet and I felt when our oldest son began six weeks of proton radiation therapy at M.D. Anderson in Houston.  The thought was almost more than we could bear–Ryan would lie on a table, mesh mask pinning his face motionless against the slab while radiation particles traveling two-thirds the speed of light penetrated his neck.

He would do this five days a week for six weeks.  He would lose at least some of his taste and salivation, and would experience significant fatigue.  His skin would become raw and painful, his throat so sore that swallowing would be hard.  In fact, he could lose the ability to swallow and require a feeding tube.  All that was in his future six weeks ago.

Yesterday was Ryan’s last proton treatment.  Except for the feeding tube, which we thank God he did not need, he experienced all the other side effects that were predicted.  It will take several weeks for him to return to normal, whatever that becomes.  And we must wait two months for the CAT scan that will tell us if radiation killed all the cancer.

In the meantime, I’d like to reflect this morning on two lessons learned through this experience.  One: intercession works.  Our son, his wife, and our family have experienced “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).  Through the hardest days, God’s peace has been ours because so many have prayed for us.  Ryan has been spared the worst side effects and has been carried through these days by God’s grace.  To each of you who prayed for us, know that God has heard you and we are grateful beyond words.

Two: God hurts as we hurt.  There is no suffering like parents who watch their children suffer.  But our Father watched his Son suffer the worst torture ever devised, for me.  He chose his Son’s death so I could live.  The One who wept at Lazarus’ grave (John 11:35) has wept with us.  He “took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4).

Now we will wait for results that will determine next steps in this fight.  But God is already redeeming what he has allowed.  Janet and I marvel at the faith and courage Ryan and Candice continue to exhibit.  We are humbled by the support we have received from so many of you.  And we know that whatever comes next, our son is in Jesus’ hands (John 10:28).  There is no safer placer in all the world for him–or you–to be.