Almost three weeks ago now, we were told that Joel had probably just weeks to live, and we were given the choice to stay home and do nothing medically except steroids (or not if we chose) and just wait, or to go to San Francisco and enroll him in a new stage one clinical trial for a drug that targets his kind of tumors. We decided to go to San Francisco, and here we are in San Francisco doing what we would have done if we stayed home, doing nothing medically except steroids, and just waiting.
The news we got today that Joel has to wait 10 more days before he can start the trial was frustrating, and yet, I see God’s hand in the waiting. I have been frank with friends and family since we made the decision to come to San Francisco that I just really didn’t think we would end up doing the trial, even while we were packing to move out here. I have always been willing to do the trial, but I just never felt like it would really happen for us, so it was odd to me when Joel was really still ok to travel and we got the clearance from our doctors to leave, the drive out felt a little surreal, and now two different times we’ve been within days of starting the trial, and I’ve thought, well maybe I was wrong, looks like he qualifies and we really are doing this, only to have it pushed back a little and now a little more. Perhaps Joel really will start the trial on February 3rd, more than a full month after our meeting with the doctors to make difficult decisions about how to proceed within our new reality of Joel’s lethal tumors. I think for me, Joel starting the trial would be more surprising than Joel being healed before the trial can begin. I could be wrong, definitely, and we could do the trial after all, or perhaps it will be delayed again for a reason I can’t predict now, or perhaps Joel will not qualify by then, or get worse, but I just get the sense in my spirit that God is on the move.
When Joel is finally healed once and for all, I want it to be undeniably a move of God. I don’t want it to be through a trial or because of a medication. That’s just how I’m wired in faith I guess. I want God to get the greatest possible glory for Joel’s life. Ryan would say that Joel living long enough to see this trial, and his tumor not growing while we wait for him to start the trial, symptoms remaining stable, the ability for us to be out here at all, is miraculous in and of itself. If Joel was on a trial that worked for him, Ryan would see that as completely glorious, and perhaps he is more able to reconcile the natural with the supernatural, to see that it really is all supernatural. He might, in the end, be more able to say “God’s will be done” than I am, but something in my spirit urges me to expect even more from God than I already do. I’ve always said that if Joel was healed medically I would not complain and would quickly get over any disappointment that it didn’t happen how I expected. Many, many times I have wanted to cry out to God and plead for Him to give us a simpler road even if it meant a less glorious outcome, but I always stop short because I know that all the sorrow and loss we have faced so far is small compared to what I believe God is working out in Joel’s testimony. If God wants to use a miracle in Joel’s life to reconcile anyone to Him, to show anyone how great His love and faithfulness is, to draw one skeptical but hopeful heart into a deep and impacting relationship with Him, then truly I believe I would agree to repeat these last four years of my life, or at the very least, to walk out this last short season in peace with great expectation for God to reveal Himself even more clearly.
Truly, I set out to write about my expectation for the next two weeks, my sense that a miracle is coming, and my hope that it will not be very hard on Joel or on us, but I don’t have words. I don’t know how to capture in writing this tentative hope flourishing in my spirit. It is not a feeling of excitement really, it is not a deep and abiding assurance, I am very aware that what I know is nothing compared to everything I do not know. I think what I feel most is an encouragement to get ready, to invest myself in preparing for God’s faithfulness to us. I get the sense that God is moving now whether we are ready or not, but that if we are not ready we could experience everything to come and still somehow “miss” the fullness of God’s heart for us in the middle of it.
For several months now I have felt like God has been showing me that I can trust Him to finish what He starts, and that as soon as I see that He has begun something, I should take that as a promise of His faithful completion of it and then not waste an ounce of energy preparing myself to be disappointed by Him, but instead, with reckless abandon, prepare myself for His faithfulness. It seems like an odd idea, to have to prepare yourself for God’s faithfulness, but then, it doesn’t take much to hold disappointment, really. We are all able to hold disappointment, we do it every day in big and small ways, and yet we are constantly trying to lower our expectations further so we can’t be disappointed. I find myself, over and over again giving caveats like “and even if I’m wrong I would still want to live like Joel was going to live” which is true I guess, but it isn’t really my heart. My real heart does not say, “faith is the most logical approach and so I choose it without expectation, but just as the option that works best for me,” my true heart says, “Look out, God is doing something huge and it’s happening soon!” but if I don’t show people that I too am preparing myself for disappointment they will worry about me, and so I put on, in my speech at least, and probably more in my actions than I would care to admit, a deliberate and open show of just how prepared I am for disappointment. I feel like God has shown me that all of that is a foolish waste, I can already hold disappointment, more than I can even imagine now, the world, and sin and brokenness have prepared me more than I could ever prepare myself to hold disappointment.
What does it take to prepare yourself to hold glory? Our natural circumstances do not make us fit vessels to hold and display the miraculous glory of God. What happens if God pours out his glory and you are not prepared to hold it? I have heard stories of lives crushed under the weight of a miracle. These stories don’t make me afraid, but they make me want to be ready, to walk this out with God as prepared as I can be, and any time I spend preparing to be disappointed is time I’m not spending preparing to be overwhelmed with the goodness of God. I don’t really know yet what it means to get ready. I don’t know how to prepare myself and my family for a miracle that feels like it is coming quickly, but in some ways has been coming very slowly and deliberately for years. I think in many ways God has been making us ready, over these years, that much of the work is already done in us, but I think He gives us a way to partner with Him, a way to invest in the work He is already doing, and then reap the fruit of our investment in addition to the natural outcome of His work on our behalf. I’m going to try to spend the next two weeks, waiting. We will wait for God to show us how to prepare to hold His Glory, how to add our meager investment to His great work and how to soak in as much as possible of the things He wants to speak to us and show us. And as much as Ryan is so much more comfortable with a natural outcome than I am, I see in him the same indescribable expectation that is working around on the inside of me. We are on the same page, although he wouldn’t print that page and post it in the town square like I do, but expectation is stirring in him too.


There are 2 comments for this post.

  1. Magdalini Vamvouka on January 23, 2014 3:22 pm

    Hello Green Family,

    I am really amazed by your strong faith. I pray to God asking to heal Joel from cancer and all things that cancer caused him. I truly believe in miracles because God is LOVE, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth and of all things visible and invisible. I submitted Joel’s name for the moleben service to Saint John Maximovitch at the Holy Virgin Cathedral – Joy of all Who Sorrow at San Francisco. They do moleben service every Saturday afternoon. Saint John Maximovitch the wonderworked served as the Bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church at San Francisco and his relics are kept at the Cathedral Joy of all Who Sorrow. He loved children. You can find more information for the moleben service (prayer for mercy and healing) at

  2. Jessica on January 25, 2014 11:32 am

    this gives me goosebumps when i read it! keeping on praying!

Write a Comment

Let me know what you think?