good news

Isaiah 45:23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked

“Hello, Mrs. Wilkin, this is Dr. Smith. I have good news.” So ended my ten-day wait for pathology results from my annual check-up at M.D. Anderson.

Ten days is a long time. I did pretty well with the waiting for the first five days or so, but as the time stretched on it became more difficult to keep anxiety at bay. Here is one thing I have learned during fourteen years of follow-up treatment for malignant melanoma: good news rides a swift horse, and bad news rides a donkey. Good test results get handed off to an intern or nurse who calls the patient in short order. Bad test results take their time. They get handed around to other doctors to be officially rubber-stamped “bad”. Then they come back to your doctor, who sets them aside until the unpleasant time in her day she reserves for calling patients whose lives are about to be torpedoed. The longer the wait for test results, the more likely you don’t want to take the call.

This time, despite the long wait, the torpedo didn’t come. You would think that after more than a decade of good reports I would have stopped anticipating torpedoes, but I’m not sure that’s how cancer follow-up works. Please understand, my faith in God’s goodness is not on the line. I know that no phone call can shorten the number of my days. No test result takes Him by surprise. But from a human perspective, the waiting is hard. Over the years the cycle of waiting has grown predictable: anxious anticipation, the call with good news, a week of ecstatic relief, several months of perfect assurance, eroding confidence as the next test approaches. Lather, rinse, repeat. Once you’ve had bad news you tend to live life looking over your shoulder. You know the good news of the past could be revoked in an instant.

This is why the good news of salvation matters. The Good Word of redemption, spoken in Christ, is to us a word that will not be revoked, uttered according to the integrity of God Himself. Those who have been declared righteous cannot be un-declared so, and the ecstatic relief of having been forgiven mellows and expands into the perfect assurance of our standing with God. There will never be a day when the penalty of sin is laid once more against our account. It is gone for good, forever. Irrevocably. In the work of the atonement there are no torpedoes, no revocations of grace, no “other shoe to drop”. There is only the steady, mounting assurance that the cancer of sin has been, is being, and will be ruthlessly eradicated from the life of the believer. It is good news that sticks. It is good news that comes to stay, embodied in the person of Christ. Riding, as it happened, on a donkey . Riding, as it shall be, on a swift horse .

Hello, world, this is Jennifer. I have Good News.