A little over six years ago, as I was sitting with my mother in the hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, monitoring her first chemo treatment for cancer, I received a very unexpected phone call. The captain of the local fire department delivered a stunning message: “I’m sorry to inform you that your house is on fire.”
I couldn’t have been more shocked. We’d only been in our new dream home for six weeks. I’d hung the final picture on the wall in the great room the previous evening.
“Thanks for calling,” I said (it felt silly to say that). “I’ll be there as soon as possible.” I hung up the phone and promptly called my wife. Fortunately she wasn’t home and neither of us had any idea as to the cause of the fire. She said she would go home immediately. I arrived about an hour later.
Driving up to the scene was a surreal experience—two fire trucks, an ambulance, and five police cars added to the trauma of it all. A group of neighbors stood on the sidewalk. We joined them as we all watched the firefighters throw our household furnishings into a large pile of charred debris just off the right side of the porch. A gaping hole in the roof, just above the fireplace, indicated the area where the fire had begun.
All of our family albums, wedding books, and baby books were in plastic containers in the basement. A single ember burned a hole in the floor in the living room and landed directly on top of the containers downstairs. Nothing else in the basement caught fire, only our most cherished possessions—family pictures and irreplaceable mementos of the past.
Darkness was beginning to converge and I realized we had nowhere to go and no clothes other than what we had on. I called a nearby hotel and explained the situation. An hour later we were guests there, room 106.
It took six months to rebuild, as we navigated from one hotel to another, one apartment to another. Here’s what I learned on the journey.
The things we think are permanent...aren’t.
God is permanent. He never left us, never forsook us, or let us down—not once.
Some things are unexplainable. We should save our easy answers for math problems, not human suffering.
It could’ve been worse. We could’ve been sound asleep when the fire started. We could’ve been killed.
People are wonderful. So many neighbors and friends called and offered assistance, even inviting us to move in with them.
Our stuff isn’t as important as we think it is. Sometimes it takes a catastrophic loss to truly understand that.
God can redeem anything.
A year later, my mother passed away from her two-year struggle with cancer. Nine months later I was diagnosed with cancer...just six weeks after I began a new job. After surgery and two years of treatments, I’m now cancer-free. God has been at my side through the entire journey.
Shortly after my diagnosis, my wife and I were walking in our neighborhood on a lovely autumn evening. As we walked, she said, “I can’t believe my husband has cancer.”
I stopped, hugged her, and said, “Honey, remember one thing: I have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have me. We are more than our bodies. We are spirit, soul, life, and personality. We mustn’t ever forget that.”
Many of us need to measure life differently. Some need to live moment-by-moment, rather than looking back or too far ahead. I’m grateful for the entire journey.
God loves you, despite your deepest trials. I’m convinced that He sheds two tears for each one of ours. He’s like that, you know. He cares. And...He redeems it all.
(Thanks to Pam Stein and www.amilliongodstories.com for editing and sharing this story) Check out her website!