“Take Heart” by Pam Bega

My blog this week is a reflection by Pam Bega, the mother of Rev. Jimmy Taylor, whose service was held on Friday, November 27, 2015, at Chapel Hill. Pam always had a love for writing and poetry as reflected in her ability to communicate profound thoughts and feelings as we wrestled with the reality of cancer and its devastating effects.

From Rev. Jimmy Taylor…

Despite Hospice’s recent counsel to begin preparing for a life expectancy that could be “weeks to days,” my mother continues to be full of hope and refuses to give up. She has gone through more in her life than a person should have to endure. And yet she continues to have a faithful and loving warmth to her that is so rare in others. She’s taught me much in her life. But it would be arrogant to keep her wisdom to myself; I’d like to share some words that she wrote recently in the hopes that she can teach you or anyone you share these delicate words with just how to live and…yes, unfortunately, how to die.

Read below for these powerful words from Pam Bega:

I have cancer. It’s called GIST for short. It’s a rare cancer that usually starts in the stomach and grows throughout the gastrointestinal track. July 16, 2008, what should have been a simple procedure, became a nightmare. Two months later, I was told I have 3-5 years to live. When I wasn’t sick or sleeping or at another doctor appointment or being stuck and probed with more tests, I tried to stay positive. When friends or family did see me they didn’t realize how sick I was because I only got out of bed on my good days. On my good days I had hope. Thinking back, that’s probably why I’ve lasted 7 yrs. Hope!

Intravenous chemo and radiation doesn’t touch this kind of cancer, so I take a chemo therapy pill and was told I will take these pills everyday for the rest of my life. I’ve had a total of three surgeries to remove this cancer and I am presently on my 3rd set of chemo pills because it returns until it wins.  Cancer is vicious. The doctor has told me we should continue treatment for another month, have another cat scan and if the chemo pill has stopped working we will stop the chemo therapy treatment because there is nothing left we can do.

I remember that day years ago when my sister took me to the doctor. I did my best to stay positive, but the loud sobbing just flowed out of my mouth, not constantly, it was just in short spurts out of nowhere. I kept thinking this can’t be it. This can’t be it. There’s so much left. There are places in the world I’ve yet to see. Grandchildren I’ve yet to see grow. “There has to be something else we could try!” While sitting in traffic, stopped by a train, I asked my sister to pray with me. I wanted to ask our Father God to take this cancer out of me. I wanted to remind God my grandson told me, “Grandma, God could just go down into your stomach and scoop that cancer out”.

I wanted to ask, but the words in my prayer would not come out of my mouth.

I kept seeing the suffering of Jesus. I kept seeing him standing covered in his blood as they beat and mocked him. I kept seeing Jesus standing while they put their crown of thorns on his head and pushed it down and Jesus bled some more. I kept seeing Jesus on the cross. I knew that his greatest trial would one day be overcome by his greatest glory.

I kept seeing Jesus. The words would not come out of my mouth. And then? I saw Jesus there in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying to let his cup pass from him. Jesus alone in the garden. Betrayed. Deserted. Alone. Afraid like me, bleating and pleading, “God if it is your will. Please let what ever happens be your will.” Jesus also wanted to escape what was happening to him. But more important to Jesus was for God’s will to be done. Jesus was willing to endure his pain if that was in God’s plan. I should be willing to endure pain if it somehow achieves God’s plan. I should be willing to bear my cross knowing that it will one day lead to a crown of glory. Who am I to ask God to let me escape some pain? Like Paul says, this death will sting, but it will only sting a little!

There is hope. Jesus tells us in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Because of Jesus there is a light and hope. He wants us to have courage. God’s will, hope and courage has given me a longer time to live than I deserved. I pray for you that when you feel afraid that you’ll do what Jesus said to do, “Take heart.” Never forget that.

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