Five Things I am Trying to Learn from a Dumb Disease -- By: Tom Hall

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 09:1 (Fall 1991)
Article: Five Things I am Trying to Learn from a Dumb Disease
Author: Tom Hall

Five Things I am Trying to Learn from a Dumb Disease

Rev. Tom Hall

Director of Affiliate Education,
Habitat for Humanity
Americus, GA

[A Sermon Addressed to The First Baptist Church, Clemson, South Carolina, April 1, 1990.]

Thomas Wolfe was right, I suppose, when he said in Look Homeward Angel, that “You can’t go home again!” Wolfe is at least part right. You can’t make home over again like it used to be. That much is dear. But you can return from time to time to share in some limited way your pilgrimage with people you know and love—people who have been family to you as surely as if they were brothers, sisters and cousins.

And, as a bonus, you can even share your journey with people that you don’t know. Underneath it all, we share a common journey, a sacred journey. Scratch any of us very deeply, and we all bleed alike. We laugh alike. We cry and sweat alike. We all wish there was more that gives wholeness to life.

So my task is to share with you a bit of my journey for the past ten months. It is easy to describe medically. Last July, I was diagnosed as having Hodgkin’s Disease in stage four. Hodgkins is a cancer of the lymph system. A regimen of chemotherapy was prescribed, which I have now finished. Next Thursday, Dianne and I venture back to the cancer clinic at Emory for testing to see where we are. My doctor believes that no “Plan B” will be necessary. He is a conservative guy. So... I am hopeful.

Meanwhile, I have tried not to waste a good disease but to learn something from it. Two months ago, I wrote five sentences as simple and direct as I could about things I have tried to learn from this experience. I share a portion of what I wrote about these sentences with you now.

In Corrie ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place, she tells of an incident that took place with her father on a train:

And so, seated next to my father, I suddenly asked my questions. He turned and looked at me as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor. “Will you carry it off the train, my child.’?” he asked. I stood up and tugged at it. “It’s too heavy,” I said. “Yes,” he said, “and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his child to carry such a load. When you are older and stronger you can do it. For

now, you must trust me to carry it for you.” And I was satisfied—more than satisfied—-wonderfully at peace. There were answers for my questions. For now I was content to leave them in my fath...

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