Rex Jones was a 30-year-old healthy and active man when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in 2019. He says he didn’t ask for cancer, but because he couldn’t avoid it, he decided to make the best out of an adverse situation. He says, “Staying positive, even with an outlook that seems impossible, is the most important thing any of us can do.”
Jones is an excellent photographer whose landscape photographs have been featured in National Geographic, including one taken in the “White Pocket” section of the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. He decided to use this gift for a greater cause when he founded a non-profit venture called ‘Lasting Memories’, wherein he accompanies cancer patients and their families on outdoor trips, and captures one-of-a-kind portraits of them to give them some respite from hospitals and clinics. While pain and suffering breaks the spirit of most people, for Jones it was the thing that inspired him to rise above himself and help even others find joyous moments in hard times.
It is exactly this sort of spirit that animates the intent behind World Cancer Day, a worldwide movement that aims to bring people together in the fight against cancer. The theme chosen for World Cancer Day 2022 is ‘Close the Care Gap’, recognising the importance of disseminating awareness and of confronting misconceptions regarding cancer care. Cancer affects everyone in different ways, but everybody has the ability to take actions to lessen its impact. Today is an opportunity to consider what each one of us can do, towards this cause.
Nobody enjoys suffering, and most of us don’t find deeper purpose in it like Jones did; infact, many of us lose our joy even when confronted with little setbacks. The shock of abrupt hardship teaches us that no one is exempt to the misery and sorrow of a shattered world. And experience of such pain and brokenness is what becomes most difficult to reconcile with a faith in God for many of us. “If God is good, why should I suffer?”, we ask in despair. “Why doesn’t God help me if he is all-powerful?” is another common question that resonates within our hearts when we go through tough times.
While we may not understand what our suffering is accomplishing, the Bible provides us pretty amazing comfort when it tells us that God not only understands, but he came into the world and suffered with us. This is the message of the cross of Jesus, but that’s not it. Jesus’ resurrection shows that the cross was not a defeat, but a victory over sin and evil, and gives us the firm hope that even though we suffer in a broken world, there will come a day when those who believe in him will be resurrected like him and live in eternal fellowship with him, untouched by evil. Such an unwavering faith in a loving, relational God could be our sole hope in the face of adversity. He promises he will never leave us nor forsake us, and what he showed at the cross makes this promise pretty credible. This World Cancer Day, we hope you will experience this same companionship of God in your suffering, and be strengthened to extend the same love to those around you.
What are the resolutions reading this piece has encouraged you to make, or what are the further questions it has triggered? Write to us and let us know.