Today’s verse is Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
When I was ten years old, my dad got melanoma. I was old enough to be aware of the danger of cancer, but too young for it to feel personal. After all, my dad had worked for the American Cancer Society when I was very small. He made sure we lathered up with sun screen before we went outside for any length of time. He knew all the warning signs of cancer. He memorized the acronym “CAUTION”, each letter stood for a symptom of cancer, and he would randomly rattle them off to us. In the summer, it was common to see people at stoplights with their arms hanging out of open windows, holding a lit cigarette. I would watch as the tendrils of smoke wafted up gingerly. Out of the stoplight-silence, Dad would murmur, “Suck on that cancer stick, lady.” They couldn’t hear him, but I could. Time would fail me to tell you about “Larry the Lung”; or the time a neighbor kid offered me a bubble gum cigarette. I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear that I have *never* smoked a single anything. So, I guess I felt that we were prepared when we found out about the melanoma. And, indeed, the Lord was merciful to us. Dad survived the cancer.
But two years later, he would lose his job from the American Heart Association, where he had worked for several years. This was a very hard trial for him. I’m not sure if it was harder for him than the cancer scare, because I was a very unobservant ten year old. By twelve, though, I had “matured”. I knew Dad was worried. The promotion that had wedged him out should have been his. But, he didn’t hob-knob with the right people. He didn’t drink socially or attend parties where alcohol was served. Instead, Dad was out building volunteer boards in every county in Arkansas. Towns like Ward, Nashville, Searcy, Stuttgart, Blytheville, Pine Bluff and Bald Knob. He was the first Director of Field Services to raise over one million dollars for the Heart Association in our state. But politics can hurt. He learned that the hard way.
Dad was tempted to stop tithing to our church. Mother encouraged him during his darkest hour. “God says to prove Him, Ron. Let’s do it. Let’s see if He will keep His word,” She said. They kept tithing. But Dad, like me, was prone to worry. To combat this, he did the only thing he knew to do: he claimed God’s Word.
I can still see the little 3 x 5 card in the corner of the master bathroom mirror, bearing his unique scrawl:
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. – Isaiah 41:10
He had another card in his shirt pocket. He would whip it out in quiet moments, read it, then quote it. “Valerie, see if I’ve got this right,” He’d say, handing me the card.
“Fear thou not, for I am with thee. . . Be not dismayed, for I am thy God. . .” He would say it all, perfectly. I would hear it.
I suppose it’s no shock that God did keep His word. He did provide for my family, abundantly, above anything we could have imagined.
Years later, as I was grieving the sudden passing of my wonderful dad, I would receive a sympathy card from a lady in our church. I have no idea now what the sentiment printed on the card said, but I remember the words she had neatly written out:
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. ~ Isaiah 41:10
As I read it, I could hear his voice saying it all over again. Of course, I wept tears of joy and thanksgiving to the God Who was strengthening me and upholding me.
Dad raised a lot of money in the state of Arkansas to help people with cancer and heart disease. But more importantly, he raised me. He left behind a legacy of love for the Lord that is worth more than anything in this world.