Memo: April’s Cancer Update – Christmas 2020

As we wait for the glories of the Christ child to once again pierce the darkness of Christmas Eve, April and I want to bear witness to how the Christ child has blessed us this December. This past Monday, April endured her latest set of scans replete with needle pricks, swallowable dyes, and not so comfortable beds that drift in an out of large machines. Then like children bouncing around the house the night before Christmas, we waited to unwrap the results. On Wednesday, December 23, 2020 with the help of April’s talented UVA medical team, we unwrapped the latest report and found good news! Though a few new nondescript nodules have dotted the scans like misplaced Christmas light, the overwhelming majority of her tumors have either shrunk or remained stable. One has even decreased from 4.5 centimeters to 3.2 centimeters. The favor of Jesus rests upon my sweet bride.

But that divine favor does not eliminate all sorrow and hardships. Much like the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge, April and I find ourselves living in the past, present and future. We look back at the pain and uncertainty that hovered over our last Christmas and give thanks for the radical improvements that have occurred in April’s body. She just made a Yule Log Cake (Hello Christmas!). We seek to stay in the present reveling in the good news of the day as we watch our three kiddos open Christmas presents, embrace Christmas cookie decorating, and sing “Joy to the World” at the top of their lungs. Lastly, the future also hangs about us like a damp, ill-defined midst. We know April will have to endure more scans, back pain, and days away from our children. April wishes she could reshape her future like Scrooge. Sadly, it remains both fixed and elusive.

Though we do not know what the content of the next report will be, we do know something of the sender’s character. He is our savior, the Christmas child, Christ the Lord! Psalm 100:5 declares, “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever.” We know this is true because the baby in the manger, lived, died, and rose again to save sinners like April and me. He humbled himself to the point of death on the cross so that we might be exalted to live with God. And he guides us through life with more love and power than even one of Scrooge’s spirits. The famed pastor and theologian, John Calvin, rightly noted that when God’s people descend into hardship, “[God] will not desert them, but will powerfully help them should they need his aid.” In short, the light of Christmas morning reminds us that our future will be snuggly wrapped in the love of God. Though the results of April’s scan will invariably contain variation, we know the love of God will remain fixed. Because of that first Christmas long past, we too can sing with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased (Lk 2:14)!”

Thank you for rejoicing with us this cold December day. We covet your prayers and support. They warm our hearts, manifesting the love of God. We hope our good news infuses a little gospel cheer into your Christmas celebration.

More importantly, we pray that you too will discover the joy of the Shepherds, and of Mary and Joseph who knew that Jesus, “the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people the sheep of his pasture.” God is good all the time!  

Merry Christmas!  

Contact Info:

Email us at: biblefighter@gmail.com 

You can reach us via snail-mail at : P.O. Box 637/ Amissville, VA 20106

You are also welcome call Amissville Baptist Church at: 540-937-6159.

GOFundMe Page

We will posting updates here at witkowskiblog.com

Thank you for your love, prayers, and never-ending support.

The Deadly Sin of Prayerlessness

Few Christians consider prayerless to be a mortal sin that can ruin their life. Yet, the Scriptures say just that. Those who deem God’s command to “pray without ceasing” to be a nice, nonbinding suggestion reveal an abundance of self-confidence, an abundance of pride (1 Thess. 5:16-18). They ultimately rest in their own abilities, believing they have made their bank accounts, careers, and families what they are by their own power. Like King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:38, they declare, “Is this not great Babylon, which I have built by my might power, as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty.” The flip side of the pridefulness has always been prayerlessness. Leham Status notes,

No one can both sin and pray. True prayer will prevent us from sinning or sin will prevent us from praying.

And like Nebuchadnezzar their lives descend into chaos when God removes his blessing. The king of Babylon was not alone nor especially pagan. King David, God’s king, almost died because of his prayerlessness. He recounted his story in Psalm 30:6-7, writing:

As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” By your favor, O Lord, you made my mountain stand strong; you hid your face; I was dismayed.

As David sailed down into the gulf of success, he lost sight of God’s merciful saving hand. He forgot that God had delivered him from, Goliath, Saul, and numerous other well armed enemies. David attributed his success to his wisdom, skill, and insights. Essentially, David prayed for God blessings and then congratulated himself for that fulfilling that prayer. He thought himself to be an immovable castle that could repel any attack. Like the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, David had no reason to pray for he had everything under his control. He had done it all and done it all well.

Then, God removed his blessing. David’s castle of stone was exposed as being nothing more than a house of nicely decorated index cards. The storm hit and the paper beams collapsed into a mushy mess. Separated from God, David was powerless to stop armies or even tiny germs. Like the apostle Peter who denied Christ three times while standing in his own power, David’s life spun into ruin because of his pride. His body become deathly ill. He had had neglected prayer.

Thankfully Psalm 30 does not conclude with a funeral oration. Though the heavy hand of God descended upon David, God’s mercy remained ever close. Psalm 94:12 notes, “blessed is the man You discipline, O Lord, and teach Your Law.”

The great theologian John Calvin wrote,

Though our lives may be daily full of grief and fears, and though God may humble us with various signs of his displeasure, he always sprinkles them with the sweetness of his favor to assuage our grief.

God heard David’s cry and saved him. David noted, “For his anger is but for a moment and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Joy came to the apostle Peter who found restoration at the hands of Jesus. God awoke Nebuchadnezzar from his insanity and restored the king to power.

Indeed, God heals physical disease as evidence of his power to heal the sin that ruins our hearts. Jesus, the great physician, came to seek and to save the lost, the broken, the sinful. The gospel spins upon the axis of God’s mercy. Jesus saved us because he loves us irrespective of our earthly accomplishments. For this reason, those who walk away from God can always call out to him when the find themselves careening head first into the depths of doom. God hears their cries because he mercy last forever.

If we found ourselves in the bucket descending into the dark waters of poor health, bankruptcy, or failing relationships, we should call out to the Lord. As Martin Luther’s best friend, Philip Melanchthon noted,

Prayer is always necessary for deliverance.

Salvation comes through prayer and not apart from it. Many Christians do not know joy because they do not know prayer. They are still attempting to solve their problems through self-help books, blog tips, and the occasional social media poll. They have nothing to praise God for because they have asked for nothing. Do not make this mistake. Pray.

So does the message of Psalm 30 mean all suffering is birthed from our sin?

No, suffering descends upon the human soul for a variety of reasons. But the believer’s response to suffering should always be the same: prayerful dependence upon God.  The moment God feels distant is the moment when Christians should pray. Salvation, repentance, restoration, deliverance, and hope all begin with prayer. The faithful Christian prays. By contrast, prayerlessness is sin and faithlessness.

Martin Luther once remarked,

To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.

Do you pray regularly and then take every new concern that floods your heart to the Lord? Friends, do you breathe?

Memo: April’s Cancer Update – September 2020

As 2019 spun out of our control, we longed for normal. Even boring sounded nice as we ducked in and out of ER rooms and traveled 900 miles for medical appointments seeking to realign April’s health which had been rocked by stage four breast cancer. Earlier this week, God blessed April and I with the gift of normalcy.

Her latest round of CT and bone scans revealed that April’s cancer has continued to weaken. The tumors in her breast and lymph-nodes have gone down every so slightly.  The tumors in her bones remain stable. And, the small tumors in her liver continue to shrink. One has disappeared. Though the cancer still rumbles about in the background of our lives, both the medical team and the Witkowskis breathed a deep sigh of relief this week wound down. God had heard our prayers. April’s health has mostly returned.

Though the Coronavirus has reduced the American way of life down to an one lane traffic zone, April and I have been able to maximize the slowdown as we merged back into the life that we once knew. I’m able to keep somewhat stable offices hours under the watch of mini Calvin and Luther statues. April has jumped back into the kitchen equipped with a knife and a wealth of culinary knowledge. Hello, fresh meals! Every Monday-Friday, our kids bounce down the stairs to the kitchen table to report the weather, sing songs, and recite Bible verses that define their homeschool circle time. The simplicity that seemed forever out of reach has returned to the Witkowski family in a large measure.

The quarterly cancer checkups will remain a fixture on our calendar for the foreseeable future. April will continue to work with her Mayo Clinic Team and her University of Virginia Team to track her cancer, update medicines, and maintain her health. But in the coming days, April’s health visits should shift away from thoughts of life-saving collision repair to intense-but typical maintenance. For example, her back-pain and fatigue are some other areas that require constant checks. But none prove life threatening. Though her medical teams embrace her with the warmth of heated leather seats, the tests themselves remain cold, possessing the charm of drills removing lug-nuts. They will never be her or mine favorite activity as they point to the brokenness of this world. We much prefer driving through the scenic Blue Ridge mountains to sitting in an office with a gurney, a bench, and a nondescript watercolor painting on the wall. But we rejoice that these visits have begun to transition from being THE thing on our calendar to being merely a thing on our calendar. God has been faithful.

When He calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.

Psalm 91:15-16
April At Mayo

Thank you for praying for April. Thank you for rejoicing with us. Please join us in offering up thanks to the Maker of heaven and earth. Please keep praying for April’s healing. Her back pain and fatigue rumble out of alinement at times. Her back pain remains a symptom of her muscle fatigue and the initial tumor growth. The doctors think her fatigue which can bring her day to a sudden stop during the early evening hours is caused by her medication. Adjusting dosages will be one of those ongoing maintenance issues.  Pray that God will bless her with strength. Lastly, please ask God to give us wisdom as we seek to engage in hospitality and to love of our neighbors in this time of COVID-19.

P.S.

If the space between these updates grows, please rest assured no news is good news. We are busy traveling through the world of normalcy.

Contact Info:

Email us at: biblefighter@gmail.com 

You can reach us via snail-mail at : P.O. Box 637/ Amissville, VA 20106

You are also welcome call Amissville Baptist Church at: 540-937-6159.

GOFundMe Page

We will posting updates here at witkowskiblog.com

Thank you for your love, prayers, and never-ending support.

Sustained By Grace Through Faith,

Peter and April