Two and a half years ago a good friend of mine was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour. He had an operation to remove it and was then given intensive radiation and chemo-therapy. He is one of the most positive people I know, and every time I saw him he would tell me that he was cured and that God's reason for throwing up this challenge would reveal itself. Amazingly, he had very few of the nasty symptoms usually associated with chemo-therapy, and I am sure that had a lot to do with his up-beatness. He said he knew God was for him and would support him through this odyssey.
About a year ago a scan revealed that the tumour had returned, so he had a second major operation. Again, he emerged as positive as ever, underwent more treatment and all seemed to be under control.
I saw him six weeks ago and all was apparently still well. Then, out of the blue a couple of weeks later he started forgetting things. A scan revealed that the tumour is back, but this time the doctors say it is inoperable.
I saw him today and was shocked and saddened by how quickly he had gone downhill: , slurring, loss of motor function and one eye closed. Yet still he was able to say to me: "I'm fine, I'm always fine, but this is the way the cookie seems to be crumbling for me." He is still optimistic, is as devout as ever, reads his Bible each day, totally accepts the hand that Life has dealt him and still believes that any outcome is possible. I am sure he is correct, no matter how the cards are now stacked. The irony is that I feel so saddened myself. I realise that I have discarded all possibilities for him but one, when this wonderful authentic human being is still so engaged with his life.
I guess it is only God who knows how the story goes from here on, but given the plans which my friend shared with God when he was first diagnosed, it looks as if the former may have his own plans for my friend.
The truth is that, whatever our plans, we are nonetheless called to remain open to all outcomes and possibilities, not just the one we demand or expect, and respond to them as the situation requires..