Sunday, August 10, 2014
I got ready for church that Sunday morning, thinking that we would go to CedarCreek Day and the Rib Off from there. My husband Mike wasn’t feeling well, so he said, “Go on without me. I’ll meet you at the Rec Center.” So I left for church. As soon as the service was over, my phone rang, and it was my husband. “Come home right away. I’ve thrown up.” So, I went home. Not only had he thrown up, but the bed was covered with what could only be blood. I called 911. We went to the hospital and in very short order got the diagnosis of cancer. What a dreadful disease! The big “C” strikes fear in everyone’s heart, and all of us know someone, or many “someones,” who are traveling that journey right now. We were afraid. By Tuesday morning, we had confirmation: diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. There were six tumors in Mike’s stomach, a mass behind his right kidney, and the cancer had metastasized to his spine. The doctors recommended a course of six chemotherapy treatments, one every three weeks.
August is not a good month for me. On August 8, 1997, my son died suddenly. The next year in August, a dear friend lost their near-term baby. And on August 10, 2014, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I can only cling to the thought that God is with me.
Many people came to the hospital and prayed with us. Mike said that he felt that God wasn’t done with him yet. He had just begun serving in the hospital visitation ministry, and his visits had impacted him, maybe more than those he visited. Although we were afraid, we felt that God had a plan and purpose, even for this.
We clung to the passage from Isaiah 43:1-5:
But now this is what the Lord says-
He Who formed you, Jacob,
He Who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; …
Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.;
Do not be afraid, for I am with you:”
So we entered into that season, and it was awful. There were days when I yelled at Mike, and I yelled at God. Mike lost his hair, lost a lot of weight, and just struggled through the days. But I don’t think there was ever a time that we felt abandoned by God. He was our rock, the only thing we could count on. He was our strength when all our strength was gone. He was our confidence that he was in control of the outcome, that he had a plan and purpose, even for this. As so many of you know, in our broken world, he is our only hope.
Throughout that time, so many people asked how it was going and told us they were praying for us. I could only answer, “Thanks for your prayers! We’re managing, with God’s help. Everyone’s got something going on in their lives. As I stand here, and Mike is in the infusion center, this place could collapse, I would be dead, and Mike would still be alive, with cancer. All we can do is trust in God and his goodness.”
Psalm 139, one of my favorite psalms, says in verse 16b, “all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” We knew God had it all worked out. If this was the way Mike was to end his life, then that is how it would be, but only because God had set that time. Nothing surprises him, not Mike’s cancer, not the struggle we had for the next four months of chemo and sickness, not my impatience, nor his long suffering. In the strength God gave us, we made it through the treatment. December 24, 2014, the doctor told us Mike was in remission. Today, July 11, 2017, we went to see the doctor after a CT scan, and Mike is still in remission. We praise God!
We are painfully aware that not everyone’s story looks like ours. We have many friends who are struggling with health issues, and they don’t look forward to the same outcome. But they do if their trust and hope is in God. He is our aim. His plans are our future.
MercyMe, the Christian pop group, has a great song out called, “Even If.” I encourage you to listen to it and the lead singer’s story behind the song. The chorus goes:
“I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand,
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone.
I know the sorrow and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You just say the word
But even if you don’t
My hope is You alone.
Every challenge we encounter in life gives us the opportunity to know more about him, about who he is and who he created us to be. There is never a reason to fear, even though we may be afraid – of a diagnosis, a situation, a broken relationship, or the loss of a job, status, or position. Our omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God is knowing, powerful and with us. He loves us so much; he gave his only son to redeem us.
In Romans 8:35, 37-39, Paul says,
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble, or hardship, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword (or cancer)…? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him Who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
That was and is our hope. We don’t know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. Our trust, our hope, our confidence is in him, who is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise, now and forever!
How can you trust God today with the struggles you are currently having?
How can you praise him today for all he has brought you through?
Prayer: Holy Father, you are my hope, my stronghold, my deliverer. Help me to trust you more, knowing that you love me and are at work in my life to make me more like your son. I submit to that work today. Have your way with me loving father! I trust you! Amen.
This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook here.
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