I just finished reading Lance Armstrong’s book, “It’s Not About the Bike.”  Really liked it.  It’s his life story, especially focusing on his life and death battle with cancer, and then his re-entry into bicycle racing–culminating with two wins in a row in the Tour de France.  Since the book was written he has won the race five more times in a row–an unprecedented feat. 

Now there’s plenty to NOT like about Armstrong–he comes across as kind of headstrong, brash, and arrogant.  Fame may have gone to his head, the way he’s starting to go through wives and girlfriends.  But you can’t deny his athleticism, and his battle with and comeback from cancer.

In the middle of this battle he received a letter from another cancer patient that read in part, “You don’t know it yet, but we’re the lucky ones.”  He dismissed the writer as some kind of nut.  But later he goes on to describe how cancer actually made him a better long distance bike racer.  Fighting it for months and months through surgeries and chemotherapy and lots of waiting taught him the patience he needed for racing.  Prior to that he usually gave each race everything he had right from the beginning, and sometimes wore himself out before the race was over.  With no energy in reserve, other racers would pass him in the last laps.  He learned to conserve his strength, wait patiently, and surge at the right moment. 

He also lost a lot of weight while he was sick and slowly recovering, and didn’t gain it all back.  Afterwards, while he was biking up a tough hill in a race, being lighter meant he had 20 less pounds to carry.  It made the ascent a little bit easier. 

And of course, when you go toe to toe with death and come out alive, it makes you appreciate life a lot more.  Armstrong has done a lot of volunteer work for and with cancer patients, and started a foundation that has raised a lot of money for research.  As time went by, he began to understand what his letter writer meant by, “We’re the lucky ones.”

And how about each of us?  We don’t all get cancer but we all have our own battles.  We all have things go wrong, we all have disappointments, we all experience failure and sometimes even tragedy.  Is it possible that what Armstrong describes in his book can happen to all of us–that we can see good come out of bad?  Is it possible that if we have the eyes to see it, there is no such thing as “all bad?” 

There’s a story in the Bible about some brothers who gravely mistreated their younger sibling.  He went through hell for years, but wound up doing a great good because of the events his brothers started in motion.  Years later he said to them, “You intended it for evil, but God intended it for good.”  

A friend of mine has Parkinson’s Disease, and to understand it better I read a book on the disease written by someone who has had it for 10 years.  There’s a chapter entitled “The Good That Comes from Parkinson’s.”  The good that comes from an incurable, debilitating, neurological disease?  Yep, and she had numerous things listed in that chapter. 

Is it possible that all of our lives are like that?  Maybe instead of writing something off as bad luck or tragedy, we should refuse to give up, and instead start searching for the good in it.  Not in a light, fluffy, Pollyanna kind of way that denies or ignores the pain and disappointment, but in a gutsy, realistic way that says, “Hey, life isn’t fair.  Nobody gets a totally free ride, and crap happens.  But I’m going to keep going and trust that at some point down the line I’ll see God bring something good come out of this.”  

Maybe, in various ways, we’re ALL the lucky ones and we just don’t know it yet.