Living Fully Alive in the Middle of the Mess

My first born, David, has spent this last year living what he never could have imagined for himself. At the end of his first year in graduate school at Harvard, double majoring in Public Policy and Law, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Surgery number one removed the tumor and revealed that far too many of the removed lymph nodes carried the cancerous cells.

“This is aggressive,” we were told.

Our 26-year-old go-getter spent last summer and his first year in law school hustling from chemotherapy to class. Within a month of the last round of chemotherapy, they discovered another tumor, this time on his liver. Back into surgery he went.

Then this spring, David sat across from his oncologist, both wearing masks due to COVID-19, and his doctor’s eyes conveyed dismay.

“We found another tumor on your liver.”

As I write, David is half way through more aggressive chemotherapy.

Several nights ago, my husband, Cam, and I had just come home from social-distance dining on a patio with some friends. David lounged upstairs in his room.

“How’s your apocalypse going?” he asked as we walked through the door.

David’s clever mockery is all too familiar to me.

“Ha. That’s good. So true.”

And, I knew, rhetorical.

“How was your night, sweetheart?” I asked him back.

I lay down beside David on his full-size bed. The one he slept in when he was in high school and during holidays through college.

“I’m not good.”

His tired eyes and still face were, sadly, also becoming all too familiar. He stared at his laptop, light still glowing.

“I just don’t know what to make of all that’s going on in the world. It’s crazy. I’m tired. And did you hear that Tim Keller has cancer now, too?”

“Oh, no. No.”

I sat up carefully, ensuring I didn’t pull on the hose connecting David’s chemotherapy bag to the port that’s been embedded in his chest for over a year.

What do we make of this? 

I agree with David. Yes, it’s crazy. Yes, we’re tired. It’s all been a bit too much.

Cancer may not be your reality, but against the backdrop of COVID-19 we’ve all had our share of mess. A great big jumbled, apocalyptic-like mess. After weeks of living in quarantine, we’re depleted by the daily drone of loss—employment, economy, people. We’re climbing out of the rubble of the blatant realities of a world gone mad with hatred and division over systemic racial injustices.

I’m no longer surprised by the mess. Why should we be? It’s not like we weren’t warned. Jesus’ warning in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble…” is just one among a host of other times He gave us a heads up!

Nancy Hicks
Nancy Hicks is a teacher and speaker who inspires women to find their God-given power and ignite a life of passion. As a mother, wife and leader, Nancy Hicks understands the many roles a woman plays and the feeling that there must be more in her and for her. Nancy knows what it’s like to spend blurry days scrubbing floors and doing laundry, and she also knows what it’s like to use her voice as a singer and a former on-air spokesperson for QVC, reaching millions with her platform. In each season, Nancy has learned the power of intimacy with Christ and finding true aliveness from within — and unleashing the power and passion each of us is created for and called to. After earning her master’s in theology from Palmer Seminary of Eastern University, she launched her international speaking ministry, NancyHicksLive, and today, Nancy speaks and teaches all over the world, equipping and encouraging women to find what lights them up and rocks their worlds for Christ. The author of Meant to Live, Nancy has been featured on Hallmark’s Home & Family, The Jesus Calling Podcast, as well as in Publishers Weekly, The Christian Post, Christian News Journal, Philadelphia Weekly and more. With the perfect mix of glamour and grit, Nancy inspires women to take their place in God’s Kingdom and raises them up to become who they are meant to be. She and her husband, Cam, have been married since 1990 and have two flown-the-coop sons, David and Aaron, and one darling daughter-in-law, Rachel. For more information, visit

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