Three little words, “BAD NEWS…CANCER” caused the room to spin and my world to turn upside down. The report couldn’t be real. Maybe it was a mistake or just a bad dream, and I would awake to resume the calling God had placed on my life. My kids were waiting.
And I had waited so long. Infertility and miscarriage were overcome at last. Painful obstacles were now behind me. So how dare there be another interruption in my call to motherhood! Cancer! Who caused it? What did I do wrong? Was I being punished? What was my sin? Where was God? It just wasn’t fair! All these emotions and questions whirled around inside my head. I could only reach out to grab the hand of my husband who looked at me now with tear-filled eyes, his anguish over those dreaded words as apparent as mine. My beloved husband was distraught and speechless, devoid of encouragement and energy. He looked as hopeless and harassed as I felt. God had given me this man to represent the pillar of strength and foundation of hope that was true of Jesus Christ. I couldn’t bear to see him crumbling under the shock of the news. I needed him to be strong. So with hands grasped together we both reached out to our God, our very present help in time of trouble. The Lord had to become all that we had been taught He was since childhood and what we had shared with others to be true. It was all or nothing now. Believe and trust…or wallow in self-pity and depression. It was our choice!
Flanked on all sides by caring family and friends, we walked through this bewildering struggle with cancer. The word itself is equated with death, but we found it brought life to our relationship with God and His people. We were forced to trust or topple under the weight of its monumental impact on our lives. We wanted the trial to make us “better,” not “bitter.” Again, the choice was ours. So we tried to trust, not without tears and occasional attacks of depression, but with the faith of a tiny mustard seed, holding on to everything we knew to be true of this One who had given His life that we might live. And He sent us hope along the way. It came in the form of a telephone call from someone who just wanted to pray. It came with a knock at the front door from one who burst into tears, showing me that my pain mattered to her. It came with several friends just wanting to sit by my side so I wouldn’t be alone. It came in the form of intercession from prayer warriors who were holding me up when I didn’t have the strength to pray. It came in the form of notes of encouragement. It came with meals and flowers. It even came with hair styling until I could move my arm again. It all came and it went and I survived. When you PASS THROUGH the waters, I will be with you; when you PASS THROUGH the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you WALK THROUGH the fire, you will not be burned. We passed through to victory!
I look back at that November in 1985, gratefully remembering what God has done for me. After a mastectomy to remove the cancer, there were good reports—no lymph nodes had been infected and there was no need for chemotherapy! The Lord truly brought us through. His strength took over for our weakness. We experienced the truth of 1 Timothy 6:15, “God is the Blessed Controller of All Things.” Jehovah Rapha, my healer! He allowed me to resume my call to motherhood, and even though it touched my life again in 1990, I am still cancer free! I have been watching my children and grandchildren grow up! My calling was not in vain. God gave me the desire of my heart. So how did cancer impact my life? It caused me to gain another perspective on living. It made me thankful for every moment I was alive and every birthday He gave me. The trial changed my thinking and was a springboard for future ministry. I’ve learned that God has purpose in everything He allows to touch us. Got some bad news? Turn it over to Jesus. Be determined to get “better” not “bitter” because only God can turn your bad into something good.