Ron picks up his narration. Deborah’s surgery is scheduled for three days later, and the family goes to their ranch at Rocky Top to wait, pray, and be together. Deborah tells Ron that if the cancer has already spread, she does not want to fight it, but Ron tells her that isn’t a decision they need to make yet. Secretly, Ron is convinced a cure is out there.
The family’s immediate move to prayer reflects the consolation that their Christian faith offers to them, even in times of uncertainty and duress. As Deborah’s struggle with cancer continues, prayer and faith will continually be depicted as a bastion amidst fear and uncertainty.
Deborah goes in for her biopsy, and the surgeon meets Ron after it is over. It doesn’t look good—the cancer has spread all across her abdomen, “wrapping itself around her liver like a shroud.” The doctor insists that she needs additional surgery, but does not seem hopeful about the outcome. Ron’s mind runs through the list of promises for protection and provision in the Bible, while trying to block out a line from the Book of Job: “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.” When Deborah wakes, Ron tells her that there is still hope.
Ron’s future struggle with faith and reckoning with God are foreshadowed by his focusing only on the biblical promises of protection and provision while willfully ignoring Job’s reminder that God begins life and ends it. Ron’s unwillingness to accept the full scope of God’s role, as both giver and taker, seems to indicate why he will struggle more than any to forgive God for Deborah’s illness.