Memo: The Regathered Storm – March 2021

The words sent our souls sprawling across the sands of life. Stunned, April and I tried to comprehend what her oncologist had just said: “Her cancer has grown and we need to discuss new treatment options.” As the wave of bad news receded, April and I found ourselves unexpectedly pulled back into the murky waters of breast cancer as we stared at the walls of the 10th floor exam room. The doctor went on to tell us that April’s latest scans revealed the formation of 10 new tumors in her liver. All ten had materialized since her lasts scans on December 23rd. One breast cancer tumor measured a centimeter and a half in diameter. She also developed four new insignificant cancerous spots in her lungs. Though the cancer in her bones and breast remain stable, her new cancer growths revealed that her first line of treatment has failed. The first sea wall of protection composed of hormonal treatments has been breached by this dark storm.

We thank God for the past twenty-three months of success. Still, we had longed for more time. Since the medicine had repulsed more than one fear blown wave, we had begun to believe that April’s health was relatively secure. With the storm clouds fading into the horizon, we had begun to build tiny, happy, little structures in the sands of life, basking in the sun of providence. This past Wednesday morning, the waves of breast cancers washed our little sandcastles away and began pulling us back towards the law of averages, a beacon that often proves more ominous than hopeful.

With regards to what happens next, April and I have more questions than answers at this time. On Friday, March 19, April exited the Promise study at The Mayo Clinic and stopped taking her medications. Though she may continue to seek treatment in Minnesota, she and her doctors no longer know which principles of navigation should guide her journey. In an effort to determine what should be the guiding star for the second phase of her treatment, April underwent multiple blood tests and a liver biopsy while at Mayo. The reports should lay anchor within the next two weeks. At that time, she will work with her medical teams at Mayo and UVA to create a second treatment plan. Once we have charted our next course forward through this uncertain storm, we will share that information with you.

Though some things about our circumstances appear set against us, we know our God is forever for us. At times we cannot help but wonder why our good God would allow April’s cancer to flood back into our lives. Our children are so young; our church ministry is so new; and our marriage is so dear. At first glance, his plan for us seemingly does not align with the course that April and I would chart. But if we have been left to our own plans in years past, April and I would not be married; nor would we have our three little kids or our precious church family. Because God did not consult us and our foolish sentiments when forming his plans for us, April and I have the good gifts we that we hold so dearly as the waters rage today. We are confident that the God who has guided our lives by his love to towards the edge of this storm will be with us as we sail into its breakers.

Contact Info:

Email us at: biblefighter@gmail.com 

snail-mail at : P.O. Box 637/ Amissville, VA 20106

call us at: 540-937-6159.

Support us at: April Witkowski Medical Fund (gofundme.com)

We will posting updates here at witkowskiblog.com

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

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?