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This article appeared in the Lafayette Church of Christ bulletin on January 2, 2000. It was written by Ricky Jones:

On July 9, 1997, 1 had a malignant tumor removed from my colon. This was followed by 24 chemotherapy treatments. On August 2, 1999, 1 had some scar tissue removed from my intestines and after the surgery they found some cancer cells. This was followed by 12 more chemotherapy treatments. Some people have told me that I have had a hard time or had it rough. But I believe everything that happens, happens for a reason. That trials are to be used to learn and grow from. I know that all these things have taught me three very important lessons.

The first thing that cancer taught me is that life is valuable. Enjoy every day to the fullest. My goal used to be to work until I'm 65, then retire and visit Civil War battlefields. Now I hope to live to see Brandi (his daughter) married and maybe a grandchild. I used to dread going to work, especially on Monday, but now I wish I was able to work. I have always enjoyed going to church, but I didn't realize how much until I was unable to attend. If you have your health, be thankful  for it. Thank God every day that  you are able to get out of bed and go to work or enjoy the privilege of attending the worship service, because these are privileges that we take too lightly.

A second thing that cancer has taught me is how important family is. I told my chemotherapist that the only thing that would get me through my treatments was faith and family. It was the encouragement they gave me that caused me to go every week and take these treatments. If it wasn't for them I would never have put my body through what these treatments do to you. In 1997, I worked and took the treatments, but in 1999 the treatments were too strong and I was unable to work. When my physical and spiritual families found out they sent me financial  support so I didn't have to work (As a matter of fact the church sent his family on a vacation to Florida). It means so much to me to know that people cared. Because of cards, words of encouragement, and financial support there was never any doubt that my families cared for me. If I spent the rest of my life I could never find the words to say how thankful  I am to the families who stood by me in these hours of trial. I am thankful that the Lord has blessed me with families that love the Lord and each other.

The third thing that cancer taught me is that life is not fair but heaven will be. I didn't do anything to get cancer, it Just happened. That's not fair. But I read of a place where there will be no more pain, sickness, or death. This is the place where I want to spend eternity, don't you? As long as we live on this earth we will face trials, but in heaven we will rest from our labors (Rev. 14:13).  It is true that life is not fair but who ever said it would be. Life is a journey to get to somewhere else and how we handle the trials we are faced
with will determine our eternal destination. But like me, remember you do not have to face these trials alone. Jesus has promised that where we are he is with us. We also are blessed to know that we have people that care and are looking out for each other and I hope we meet again in a place of undescribable beauty. 

NOTE: I attended the funeral of Ricky on December 20". He passed away at the age of 47 and I count him as a dear friend who provided more comfort and encouragement than he received. May we all be more aware of these three things in our own lives as we begin a new year.

For His Cause.
Tim Woodward