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The Red Devil

Posted by Dr. Wade Smith on

I suspect the term “Red Devil” conjures up many different images in your mind. Perhaps you think of impish caricatures with pitch forks, pointy tails and horns. 

Recently, I confronted a new “Red Devil.” Its scientific name is “doxorubicin” and it is one of the strongest chemotherapy drugs used to combat a variety of cancers. My confrontation with the Red Devil comes as a result of a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the course of drugs called R-CHOP. The Red Devil portion of this treatment is “pushed” into your vascular system, drawing attention for its color — a deep red liquid reminiscent of the deep red color of the Kool-Aid man. But make no mistake, this Red Devil brings no refreshment on a hot summer day.

The properties of the Red Devil cause it to aggressively attack the cancer cells in one’s body. As its name suggests, however, the Red Devil does not discriminate in its destructive work attacking healthy, fast growing cells as well. This creates side-effects that make life miserable. Among these include nausea and vomiting, hair loss, low blood counts, and mouth sores.

For cancer patients, the Red Devil symbolizes the heavy cost of fighting cancer. Counting the cost means accepting the misery of the side-effects so that the enemy can be defeated. On the cellular level, death must be endured so that life can be restored. 

I am reminded that the Psalmist declares that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Medical science leverages this truth through its use of drugs like the Red Devil. With great faith and courage we purposefully walk through the valley of the shadow of death believing not only that our cancer will be destroyed but that life will be reborn.

In addition, the Scriptures testify to the reality of a spiritual being called the devil. Jesus describes this devil as a murderer and the father of lies. Peter warns that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. 

Just like the Red Devil, the mission of this devil is to attack and kill, producing devastating side-effects that make life miserable and at times unbearable. We are advised to resist and flee from the devil.

But, there is a cure. There is hope for healing. The deadly purposes and side-effects of the devil can be overcome. While this devil comes to steal, kill and destroy, Jesus comes to bring life, and not just life:  abundant life!

This is the good news of the Bible. Yes, the cancers of life destroy us spiritually, emotionally and relationally. But, we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  We are made to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We are made for new life. That which dies within us can be made alive again through Jesus who invites us to count the cost and follow Him.

“Count the cost” means that we must pass through death. We must learn to die to ourselves and make Jesus Lord. This truth must penetrate to the cellular level of our hearts, minds and souls. This is the way to new life. This is the way to open ourselves to God’s gifts of rebirth and healing.

I pray you find the courage and strength to endure the “Red Devils” of your life. I trust you will not allow cartoon caricatures keep you from the sober truth of one who seeks to steal, kill and destroy your life. Finally, I hope you, too, are discovering that in the presence of Christ, life springs forth from death.