AMAC Exclusive By Chris Skates
As a nation, we are going through our most difficult period in decades. Many of you reading this have traveled very personal and daunting valleys. Though the specifics may be different, we are all experiencing troubles. I write to tell you, don’t lose hope. God has not abandoned you or our beloved nation. I want to share a story of how God was with me in a deep, dark valley.
A few years ago, my wife and I sold our home and left our church, community, and family, feeling we had been called to government service.
In October 2019, it seemed we were in the center of God’s will. We believed we were on a trajectory to help return the government to its founding principles and respect for life. Then, unexpectedly, the governor we were serving lost his reelection bid. Suddenly, we were unemployed. At the same time, our beloved Golden Retriever developed liver cancer and died.
I didn’t know it, but our entire family had reached a turning point. In January, I accepted an upper-level job at a federal agency and immediately left for Washington, DC to begin that chapter.
I started my new job while my wife, still back in our home state, packed for a 900-mile move. One day, I passed out on the way up the subway steps. A trip to a doctor indicated something might be serious. My wife abandoned packing and rushed to DC. A second opinion revealed the diagnosis, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. And not just any leukemia, a rare and aggressive form. The doctors were shocked that I was alive based on my skewed blood chemistry. They began an aggressive Chemo regimen. I had to go on disability. Then COVID hit the nation.
My immune system and bone marrow had to be annihilated to kill the cancer. An exposure to COVID would likely have been fatal. That summer, I underwent a 66-day bone marrow transplant at John’s Hopkins, perhaps the only place in the world that could cure me.
COVID killed the real-estate market for a time, and we finally sold our house back in our home state under its value. Our out-of-pocket medical expenses soared. You get the gist.
Here I must take a step back in time. On the morning my wife and I were waiting for the oncologist to give me a diagnosis, I checked social media and saw a “memory” post (Facebook’s way of resurfacing your past social media activity to evoke nostalgia) that hadn’t been there a few moments before. I’d first posted it 10 years ago to the day:
Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. I Corinthians 2:9. I had gone on to write in my own words: “But does this necessarily mean the things we think of as good, things such as material wealth and prosperity? Could it instead mean a strengthening and a hardening through trials and difficulties that we might become closer to Him?”
I read that message in a bottle, apparently sent to myself across space and time, with my mouth agape. A second later the oncologist walked in with the diagnosis.
Likewise, the first morning I was to receive Chemo, I got another message, this one from the 1800’s, but equally relevant. On that day’s entry from my Charles Spurgeon Devotional book, I read:
God often takes away our comforts and our privileges in order to make us better Christians. He trains his soldiers, not in tents of ease and luxury, but by turning them out and using them in forced marches and hard service. He makes them ford through streams, and swim through rivers, and climb mountains, and walk many a long mile with heavy knapsacks of sorrow on their backs.
As I write this, it is one year later. I am in remission, through the excellent care of my medical team and the angelic nursing my wife provided. I never got COVID. I have left DC to have the support system of my extended family. Career wise, I am starting over in my late 50’s. I face many more challenges, medically and financially. Yet, I am confident that the self-same God who delivered me safe thus far surely won’t abandon me and my family now, nor will He ever abandon our nation.
Chris Skates is a freelance writer, novelist, and until recently, a speechwriter. Prior to that he spent 30 years in the energy industry.