Coming From A Place Of Weakness

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

This past week was VERY different for me.  So different that it delayed me getting this blog out as early as usual.   During the time of my chemotherapy treatment I have pretty much avoided contact with people, in fact it has felt very much like the social distancing that began March of 2020 never really ended for me.  I stayed separated from people early on because I simply didn't have the strength to go anywhere and since the middle of April when I began chemotherapy treatment because it weakened my immune system making me a lot more vulnerable to any contagious bug traveling around.   All of that changed this past week.

On Monday, even though I was still within the 7-10 day high risk period after my last chemo treatment, I traveled to a neighboring town to do an in person group meeting with about 30 employees with a client that I have taken care of for 25+ years.    Following a discussion with my wife, I was cautious.   I wore a mask when close to people, and fist bumped rather than shaking hands.    It felt SO good to be around people I have known for so long, most of whom I hadn't seen for 2 years, (we didn't meet last year because of the pandemic).    

I definitely felt an adrenaline rush that night after being able to be out with people and decided that I wanted to start working on rebuilding my muscles that my doctor had said would have been depleted by the rapid weight loss from earlier in the year.  I honestly didn't realize how much muscle I had lost until I started to do push-ups that night.   This time last year I was doing 50+ push-ups in 2 or 3 sets.   Monday night, try with all of my might, I could only manage ONE push up!   I was blown away, I guess I have lost a LOT more muscle than I thought!

As the week continued, this past week began our summer youth camp which I have directed every year since it started going back to 1999, (this was our 23rd year).  On the night before it started I led the staff meeting as we prepared for another year of camp.  At that point I didn't know how much, or if, I'd be able to at camp.  We named an assistant director and I told them I would play it by ear.  However, because the youth camp was outside I felt safer being around people, but still was cautious, no handshakes or hugs.  I ended up coming every morning for the counselor breakfast meeting and was back every night for the evening service, and spent most of the day there on Saturday (the campground is only 10 minutes from my house).

I am so grateful for all the prayers (and answers to prayers) that made this week possible.   One of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:4.  I believe that the more that we "delight ourselves in the Lord" the more He gives us the desires He wants us to have and then He finds a way to fulfill those desires He gave to us.  I feel very much that me being able to be at our Youth Camp was a gift from God and the fulfilling of a desire that He put in my heart. It was an awesome week, getting to see young people enjoy spending time together and getting closer to God is still one of the most inspiring things in my life.  And this year my two oldest girls were campers.  I am SO GRATEFUL I got to be there as much as I did!!

And then... the icing on the cake, I was at church this morning (now two weeks in a row) and got to preach on Father's Day!   I stayed around after service and actually talked with people, (although I stayed clear of hugs for now).   I am definitely more of an extrovert than an introvert and being around people has felt invigorating to me.   It has been amazing but it also has felt surreal.   Almost like I've been in an alternate universe.   I kept feeling like I had to pinch myself to see if I was actually there.   And... although I'm not paranoid, I do feel a weight of concern that perhaps I have done too much too soon and will regret it if I get sick.   So far, I feel great and have not picked up any bugs of any kind, praying that continues although I am now out of the 7-10 day high risk window.  

This coming week I have an appointment with my oncologist.  He is going to review the results of a CT scan and Pulmonary test I had done this past week to determine if I need another round of chemo or if the cancer has shrunk sufficiently to not need any further treatment.  Just so happens that the appointment is on my birthday and of course I am praying for great birthday news, that he will tell me that chemo is done!!  I feel so much stronger physically than I was even a month ago, but I am also very aware that I have a long way to go.   Even if, as I am praying, my doctor doesn't recommend any further chemo I still get tired (had to take a nap every day this week) and obviously am going to have to really focus on rebuilding the muscle I have lost.    The journey from weakness to strength may be as long as I have gone so far (6 months) and in the meantime at the very least I will have ongoing scans and doctor's visits to make sure the cancer has not begun growing again.   So... even if I have the best birthday news, I will not be back to my former strength for a good while to come.

Besides all of this I am hopeful that the God that has strengthened me so far will continue to be the strength that I need.  With His ability I will seek to rebuild the strength I have lost without losing track of the important lessons I have learned.   And... if I get the news I DON'T want this coming Tuesday (more chemo), I will continue to trust Him with my journey knowing that He has brought me this far and He's not going to leave me now.

In the meantime I will continue to let my mind absorb this very different week that I had.  I'm very grateful for the ability to be around people that mean a lot to me from business, to church, to family.   I will seek to "boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me" and trust that being open about my weakness will help encourage someone else in theirs.    I am still in a place of uncertainty and consider that a gift to keep me focusing on what is important but not urgent in my life.   I am thankful to a God that gives us "the desires of our heart" but know that His timing and method is often different from mine.   Learning to wait is still a big part of my journey as well.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog.  I hope that it is helpful to you somehow in your journey.   I will put out another blog in a few days to update you on what happens after my doctor's visit.   Please be praying for good birthday news, but whatever happens I trust God to lead me through!  God bless.


Vicki Greer - June 20th, 2021 at 8:40pm

Such an inspiring word, thanks for sharing. Ccontinued prayers!

Matthew Chapman - June 22nd, 2021 at 11:17am

Thank you Vicki!!

Tammie Fenner - June 22nd, 2021 at 6:55pm

Matt, as always you are so inspiring. But I’m anxious to know what your scan says? Praying you got good news. ❤️🙏🏻

Matthew Chapman - June 23rd, 2021 at 12:34pm

Thank you Tammie. Good news from my scan. Originally there were 4 locations noted, it’s down to two now & those are listed as “mild.” The doctor was very pleased with the results and after one more week of chemo does not think I will need surgery.

Retha wilson - June 25th, 2021 at 10:15am

Thank your for these blogs . So inspirational and encouraging. Praying everyday.

Matthew Chapman - June 25th, 2021 at 8:29pm

Thank you So much Retha! God bless you.

Rose Murry - June 27th, 2021 at 6:39am

It was so great to meet you at Camp Fire. Your thoughts on having to isolate when immunocompromised really resonated with me. Jack & I are keeping you in our prayers for full restoration of health. As I read this, I was reminded of Romans 8:28 - thank you for letting God use even this for His purpose. Reading your blog has been a blessing to me.

Matthew Chapman - June 28th, 2021 at 7:56pm

Hi Rose. Was great to meet you & Jack. Thank you for your prayers! I will be praying for you as well. God bless.