Growing up, Spencer admired and respected his dad. He was blessed to have had a great relationship with both his parents. In 2012, entering into his junior year, he was nearing the end of his high school career. Sports were the focus of most of his energy and thoughts of college crept into his mind. Things seemed normal…until that fall morning.
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Midway through the school year, on a cool morning, Spencer’s dad was on his way to work just like any other day. Halfway through his routine morning drive, as he took the same route he had driven for 27 years of his career, his father suddenly couldn’t remember how to get where he was going. Calling his co-worker for directions, he had to be reminded how to get to work that day. This was such an odd thing and raised concern that lead to a trip to the ER. The results of this ER visit were discouraging: His father had brain cancer.
The news was devastating to the entire family, but, Spencer recalls, “My family was always optimistic.” So, as chemotherapy began, followed by radiation, he doesn’t remember feeling fear. By the end of his junior year, treatments and surgery were successful, his dad was healthy again.
But his family’s story didn’t end there.
Almost exactly one year later, his father’s brain cancer returned. As Spencer reflected on this season, he recalls, “I partially blamed myself.” Accusations ran through his mind and he felt like he didn’t lean into God the way he should have in the previous trial. He felt God allowed the cancer to return to teach him a lesson.
As the familiar cycle with his father began again…chemotherapy…radiation…things continued to spiral downward. His father had a stroke. So, in the midst of the current situation, suddenly his dad had to be in a wheelchair with the whole left side of his body paralyzed. At 18 years old, Spencer had to assist his father to go to the bathroom and help feed him — things an 18-year-old should never have to do.
Optimism turned to despair when things weren’t getting better. Spencer shared one of his prayers during that season as a teenager knowing what might happen to his father. He prayed to God, “If this is what happens, I still want to praise You.” The body of Christ became such a strength during this time and they were the ones who stood by Spencer to help get him through — his mom and sister, his youth pastor, and his close friends. They prayed with him; they stood with him; they spoke truth over him.
During the late summer of 2014, shock met the family as his dad’s fight with cancer came to an end. That summer his dad went to be with the Lord.
Have you ever felt like God is punishing you by the circumstances surrounding you in your life? We want to say to you today, God is not punishing you. This is not who He is or what He is like. He loves you and His desire is to comfort you in the midst of your pain.
There’s no known reason for why Spencer’s family had to go through what they did. We will never know why we abruptly and unexpectedly lose loved ones earlier than expected. “It’s never easy.” When asked what kept Spencer during the months to follow, he explained that “it’s never easy.” He learned to “dump everything on the Lord.” In a matter of only a few short months, he graduated high school, his father passed away, and he moved to Mankato to begin his freshman year of college. He spoke about how impacting it was to get plugged into New Creation Church at that time. Some friends invited him saying, “if you want a church that speaks truth and is passionate about prayer, check out New Creation”. He began attending regularly.
Spencer could have allowed the grief to turn into anger towards God. Instead, his grief led him into intimacy and into seeking out who God is on a deeper level. In the midst of pain, Spencer found the Lord in a way he hadn’t known Him before.
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When difficult life circumstances hit, we are faced with a choice. These are the types of things we can only go through when we’re together and surrounded by the body. If you find yourself in a difficult season, don’t hesitate, reach out to a friend who can pray with you. We are brothers & sisters in Christ and together we must lift each other up! Find hope in the fact that you’re not alone. God is writing each of our stories and HE IS GOOD. We look forward to praying with you and hearing your story. Don’t retreat today. Press into God and let Him meet you in your grief.