When you hear a doctor say “cancer”, it’s a scary word, but it holds an entirely different meaning when it is being said to you. In times of darkness and fear, where do we turn? In this Behind the Mic, Mark Hall tells the story of his cancer diagnosis and how it inspired him to write the song “Oh My Soul”
Story Behind “Oh My Soul” from Mark Hall
It was different for me being the youth pastor. I’m the guy that helps everybody else with their stuff. And suddenly it’s me. I wasn’t ready for that.
When you hear a doctor say “cancer”, it’s a scary word but then when it’s being said to you, you don’t really even hear the word cancer you just hear, “hey you’re going to die”. And that’s kind of what I heard when he said it. My doctor was a friend of mine. And normally he just calls me or text me whenever I need to do something or come in for an appointment. The day I got the news he text me saying “Hey Mark I need you to call me”. I read that as, Something’s happening. This is about to happen.
I remember walking out into the lobby and trying to call him and not being able to get ahold of him. Finally, after what seems like about an hour of trying to get him on the phone he says, “Man there’s a tumor in your kidney and it’s about the size of your kidney. And there’s a good chance that it could be cancer, and that kidney is going to have to come out”. It’s like I’m talking about somebody else’s life. But it was me.
I think the very first thing that popped in my head when he said it was how am I going to tell the kids. How are we going to get the kids through this. I just thought maybe if I could just get the surgery and be done with this really fast, nobody would even have to know. Melanie reminded me that this is kind of why the church is the church, we really do need prayer.
So what I really realized was that it was pride. You know, I’ve always talked to my teenagers a lot and dealt with the fact that sometimes when you want to help somebody, we’re scared that we don’t know what to say, so we avoid them because we don’t know how to fix it. But I’ve never been on this side of it, where I realized sometimes when you’re hurting you don’t want to hurt around people because you don’t want to feel it. That’s pride. And when we let the body of Christ be the body of Christ and love you where you are and just you know be around you. That’s how God comforts us through each other.
One of my favorite scriptures is where David says,
Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God – Psalm 43:5
David just talked about life like it was when he was talking to God and that’s how I have always prayed. And in that moment in his life, David was talking to his own soul like “What’s your problem? Pull it together, you know what’s true! You know God’s got you, you can’t let your feelings run away with you like this. Go back to what you know. You said all this stuff, you wrote all this stuff, you believed all this stuff, and it is still real even though it’s happening to you”. That struggle is what was going in my head. There were feelings going crazy, but those feelings kept slamming up against something solid in me – and it was the roots of my faith.
There is a point where your feelings and fear have to face the God that you know. In a storm you’ve got to go with what you know more than what you feel. And that’s where the song started. Oh my soul why are you weary? You hear in that song the battle going on, literally at one point you hear this conversation going back and forth, and I think that’s where we all live.