SGT Bob Harp (11F)



The Silence


by Bob Harp Died 1/29/08


For those of you who don't know, I have throat cancer. I have had it for over three years. The VA believes I have it because of Agent Orange in Vietnam. I never smoked or used tobacco products.  I had surgery and radiation. It came back in a year in a different place. I had more radiation. It came back the third time in the original and in another site. I was in a clinical trial, but it made it worst so that was stopped.  I am now taking chemo to shrink the tumor again.  As a result of this cancer, I have had a tracheostomy since January 2005. It hasn't been too bad and I have adjusted to taking care of it each day. I have been able to keep it plug and breath and talk normally up until lately.  

While taking my second round of radiation, I lost my voice, except for a whisper, but it came back all right.  I sounded a little different and I still had my Arkansas accent.  Again I adjusted to this problem. However, this last round of cancer has been hard. I have two tumors now; one inside at the original site; on the epiglottis and hyopharnx, and the other one on the opposite side of my neck. My tumor inside my throat was growing and I was having a hard time swallowing. Food would go up the back of my throat into my sinuses and I just couldn't eat. So we had a PEG tube put in so I could maintain my weight. If I am going to be able to fight this cancer, I have to keep up my strength. That was a big adjustment not being able to eat. I love good food and enjoy sharing at the table with family and friends. So far I have handled it all right.

On Saturday, May 28, 2007, I lost the ability to talk. I had to start breathing through my trach Sunday all the time, because of the tumor is blocking my airway. I saw the doctor this week and he said the tumor was pressing against a nerve and had paralyzed my tongue as to why I was unable to speak. I have had a hard time handling this though. I canít talk to my wife, make a call or answer the phone. What am I supposed to do in an emergency? A feeling of panic sets in. I pray for deliverance and help. I have to write down everything that I want to say to my family and friends. It is not easy. I can't even tell my wife I love her with my voice. I know the Lord doesn't put more on us than we can handle but this is terrible. I know the bible says the Lord was tempted in all areas just as we are. I know in Hebrews 4:15-16 "For we have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points, tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. KJV"

This past Monday I was praying and questioning God, "I never thought Jesus went through what I'm going through with the loss of his voice." I was frustrated and angry.  I feel so helpless and truly disabled now. I know what I'm going through is nothing compared to what Jesus suffered on the cross for my sins, but he never knew what it was like not to be able to talk; or did he?  The next day as I was preparing my fruit juice for my tube feeding that morning, I was thinking about this and the Lord revealed this to me.  Yes, Jesus did know what it was like. You see when he was on trial before his crucifixion, he was led before the leaders like a lamb, and uttered not a word.  Matthew 27: 11-14  "And Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.  Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?  And he answered him never a word, insomuch that the governor marveled greatly."  (KJV).  Pilate then had Jesus scourged. Even then I don't think Jesus utter a sound.  The soldiers put a crown of thorns and his head and a purple robe, and mock him, yet he didn't say a word.  In John 19: 5 "Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests, therefore, and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him! Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.  When Pilate, therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; and went again into the judgement hall, and saith unto Jesus, From where art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?  Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above; therefore, he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin." (KJV). From here Jesus did speak one more time to the company of people and women who were crying and lamented him. Found in Luke 23: 28-32. From there to Golgotha, (the place of the skull) he didn't say a recorded word. He was silent. Even when being nailed to the cross he didn't cry out or make a sound. While on the cross, dying and suffering, he only made 7 statements. He was silent. He could have used his voice to call out legions of angel to rescue him and wipe out the world, but he didn't. He chose to fulfill God's plan and he kept silent. Yes, he does know what it like not speak in the mist of suffering. He was obedient unto death to bring us salvation. 

Yes, I know he died for my sins, but there is more: The bible says by his stripes, we are healed. Not only forgiven, but healed.  He took our sins and our infirmities (our sickness-diseases) on himself, and we are healed. Yes, we do have a high priest who knows about our suffering. He's been there and can relate. He understands and we are healed because he took it for us. We don't have to bear it alone, because He is here with us. Taking us through it. I love Isaiah 43: 1-4 "But now, this is what the Lord says- He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you; When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.Ē" He didnít say "if", but "when" you do go through hard times, I will be with you and we will overcome, for He is our Lord and God. We are not just conquerors, but more than conquerors. Roman 8: 35-39. Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Do you know and have received this free gift of salvation and love. I have. If not do so, today: Confess you are a sinner. Ask God to forgive you. Believe that Jesus died for and paid for your sins and rose again on the third day as the scriptures say. Ask Jesus into your heart. He loves you and it a free gift from God. Eternal life with Him is not by our works or our goodness, but by our faith in what He did for us. Please don't neglect so precious of a gift. 

I am now taking chemotherapy. The doctor said the combination of the drugs I am taking have showing to be about 88% effective in treating this type cancer in the latest study. I should be able to talk again, and maybe eat by mouth again soon. Praise be to God. I read Psalm 118 every day out loud. It is found exact in the middle of the Bible. The chapter before it is the shortest chapter in the Bible, and the one after it is the longest chapter in the Bible. The exact middle verse in the Bible is Psalms 118:8 "tis better to take refuge in the Lord, than to trust in man."  I am claiming Psalms 118:13-18 "I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song.  Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: The Lord's right hand has done mighty things! The Lord's right hand is lifted high; the Lord's right hand has done mighty things! I will not die but live, and proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death."  I will once again, though silent for now, be able to sing and talk and praise God with my mouth and tongue and will tell what great things He has done.




Charles  Ames


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