Thursday, February 12, 2009


We are just kids. We are supposed to get to have fun and be able to go to school and spend time having lots of fun and worry our mom's when we are late coming home, to have our first kiss, to grow up and have kids that our parents can spoil. Not to be sick everyday. Not to be fighting cancer. Not be told sorry we can't do anything else for you. Not to be afraid.
--Our friend Sinjin Andrukates, 15, fighting relapsed Burkitt's Lymphoma-Leukemia

The inevitable question that comes up when discussing children with cancer (or other life threatening issues), is "Why?".

I don't know the full answer, but think I'm getting close to part of it.

While sitting in the hospital with Tyler, we had a lot of time on our hands. Most of my time was spent frantically researching new clinical trials and updated research studies. But then there comes a point when your head simply can not absorb any more data. Pure over-load.

I could not sleep or watch TV (my mind could not stop running through the medical data I was researching). So I went to the small library in the parents lounge. I found a Koran, a Talmud, a Book of Mormon, and a Holy Bible. One of the nurses saw me carrying them all back to the room. She laughed, and asked if I was covering all my bases. She might be closer to the truth than I'm willing to admit. Reading through the books, I found there was a lot more similarities than differences.

As I was reading and comparing them all, I got to a Bible that had all of Jesus' words printed in red ink. I decided to just read those words. No interpretations or commentary. No fluff. Just straight words from the main guy. It seemed to me those words more clearly stated the message that all the others were trying to communicate.

I came away with two clear messages. The first was, dispute all the problems in the world, God cares. He cares very deeply, and on a very personal level. Jesus went out of his way to care for the needs of people around him, and did so in very personal and individual ways. Everything from curing the most deadly disease to making sure everyone had enough wine at a wedding. Nothing seemed either too big or too small. This was especially true of the children and of the very weakest. Although he often attracted crowds, He seemed to prefer smaller groups and one-on-one conversations. He treated everyone differently, each as individuals. He seemed to really enjoy relationships.

The second message was that He expected everyone to repeat what he was doing. Once you receive, then start giving. Take His blessings and multiply them. He did not heal everyone. He left a whole lot of sick and hurting people for us to take care of.

In "Jesus Christ-Superstar", Jesus is asked why He picked such a backward time to come to earth, a time with no mass-communication systems. I think it's just not His style. He's a one-on-one kind of guy, preferring relationships over programs and systems. If anything, He showed contempt toward authorities and institutions. Reaching the world, healing the world, curing the world...well, that requires love and hope. And love and hope requires relationships. However this thing is supposed to work, it seems God wants our active involvement. Faith is not a spectator sport.

The Israelites were promised a great land, but despite all the miracles of Moses, nothing happened as they wasted 40 years in a desert. Nothing lasting until the the people stood up and acted on the Promised. Jesus told his followers they would change the world. But nothing happened until they were willing to step out and act. From Abraham and the prophets to Jesus Christ and the apostles, nothing lasting happened until the people took action.

So why do children get cancer? It is here so we can stop it. It is here because we are supposed to act. We are supposed to cure these kids. We are supposed to perform great miracles.

If you think you can not perform a miracle, then think again. I assure you, there are times when life is so dark that a gift of a token to the hospital parking garage is a miracle. There are times when saying hello and dropping off a meal is a miracle equaling the feeding of thousands with fish and bread.

Have you ever spent time with a child in their final days as they wait for a bone marrow donor? You can donate bone marrow. You can snatch that child from the arms of death. That is a miracle.

My point is, a miracle is not about a great act. A miracle is about a great result. Very simple acts can have miraculous results. Run a marathon, race a bike, cook a meal, donate money, mail out letters, shave your head, send a note, visit a friend, start a petition, sign a petition, call a congressman, write an editorial, donate blood, say a prayer, hug a child. Do anything. Just do something. Every one of us can do these things. We can pass on blessings. And maybe we will be touched by heaven. Maybe, just maybe, God's love will pass through us and become a miracle in the life of a child.

I do not know the "WHY" for those who suffer. But I'm beginning to understand the "WHY" for the rest of us. It is so we can stop being selfish, and get over ourselves. It is so we can reach out to those in need. Let us not sit back and wait on God...only to find out, at the end of our days, that God has been there waiting on us. Let us be participants, rather than spectators, in the miracles of God.

"I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty? And when did we welcome you or clothe you? And when did we visit you?" And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, when you did this for the very least of my children, you did this for me."
--Jesus, Matthew 25.35-40

Having a beating heart and operational lungs does not define you, your effect on the world around you does. Once you fulfill that service, your shift is done; you’re off work and its time to go home. So you don’t necessarily need a lot of years to have a lot of effect. In fact, maybe the opposite: if the good die young, it is they who have the most profound effect of all. If you can truly embrace this---and I’m still trying---that’s sainthood.
--Miles Levin

It's the journey that matters-mine and yours-the lives we can touch, the legacy we can leave, and the world we can change for the better.
--Tony Dungy

No one has ever become poor by giving.
--Anne Frank

What I do you can not do; but what you do I can not do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.
--Mother Teresa

As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene....No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.
--Albert Einstein

Where is God? Wherever you let God in.
--Rabbi Nahman of Bretslav

"You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments." --Jesus, Matthew 22:36-40


The Smith Family said...

Thank you for all your posts..They are so right on and never cease to amaze me. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

please watch this and let me know what you think.
Sinjin' mama

AJay Piniewski said...

don't stop...ever