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“My wife died of cancer. Now my son has cancer. My faith has been challenged but God has given grace and even joy in the morning!”

A conversation with Dave Thiessen is filled with deep reflections about faith learned through lessons in grief, loss, and challenge. Hope echoes in his story, a story which is woven intrinsically to his wife’s story. Dave is filled with energy as he talks about faith, a faith in Jesus strengthened as he processes the loss of his wife, Pam, and the news of his son’s stage 4 cancer diagnosis. “Abundant life often starts in adversity,” he shares from his notes. Pam, his wife of 42 years, passed away from cancer in 2018. The following year, in November 2019, Dave received the devastating news that Michael, his youngest son, was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. The prognosis for Michael is short-term; he’s seeing a cancer counsellor who has told him to stop thinking about the numbers. Dave ties this back to the faith journey, as he reflects on the way we influence others, observing, “It’s not always about numbers, is it?”

Living It Out

Tying the subject back to faith is constant in a discussion with Dave; as he shares truths of the faith journey his thoughts are often expressed starting with phrases like, “Talk about the grace of God.” Or, “It takes crises and heartbreak before we reach out to God as we are supposed to.” Dave ministered to his wife as she battled appendiceal cancer, a very rare form of cancer, for 9 years, considering it his ministry – and considering her, “next to salvation, the greatest gift of my life.”

Dave knows about ministry. With a Master of Divinity and years of pastoring different churches in Ontario, he explains how “it’s a blessing to know theology but the downside is that it’s sometimes harder to live it. You have the love of intellectual activity but [faith] is what makes it lived out. I had a lot to discover about my faith – how much it would have to grow and how much I had to learn.”

Speaking of learning, he shares how he is currently learning a lot about soul care, talking about the three components of an environment for a soul to be changed: anointed preaching, confessional community, and the presence of God. Dave talks about how FAC has provided him an encouraging environment for soul care and about how “God is always there for you and me. He never leaves us. I am learning to appreciate how much He loves me.”

Accepting God’s Love

 

Reflecting on his faith journey, Dave explains how he’s “far from where I hoped I’d be – you go through these regrets but in the end you have to let it go because it becomes false guilt. You have to accept God’s love. I don’t have regrets now but I have a lot of days that I don’t feel God’s presence – but I know he’s there. Trusting God for the present and the future are key to experiencing an abundant life in Christ.” Dave then quotes from 1 Peter: “Cast all your anxiety upon Him for He cares for you,” saying, “My hope is in Him.”

Dave has a lot of hope and insight to share with others. He spoke of learning patience in waiting on God’s timing, of knowing he doesn’t have to wait until he’s perfect because God uses broken people, of coming to an understanding of how the things of this life are not important in light of eternity, of experiencing how God holds us in our most difficult times, and of witnessing the blessings every day – small and big – of God’s graces, mercies, and undeserved favour.

With regards to blessing, Dave is deeply grateful for the ministry and care of people who have come alongside him in support including “friends from FAC [who] have been and continue to be critical to helping me in my journey. God has shown His love and grace so often through His people who have taken time to encourage and pray.”

Dave Thiessen’s Story Written by Judith Tuck
Read more stories like Dave’s in Storyline Spring 2020