Reflection

I have spent the last month recuperating from surgery and reflecting on life. Seven months ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced a very uncertain future. I started this blog ten days after being diagnosed and I wrote in that first post,

“I do not know what the days ahead will hold for me but I do know my future…I will see God’s goodness displayed through this trial. Romans 8:28 is just as true today as it was 11 days ago.And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and called according to his purpose.’ My hope and prayer with this blog is to encourage others with God’s grace and mercy as we all face the trials and struggles that compete for our attention. I choose instead to dwell on the good. Philippians 4:8 has been my battle cry, ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent and praiseworthy—think about such things.’ It is not my choice to have breast cancer, but I can choose to walk each day by the love and light of God’s grace and mercy. I can choose to focus on all that is good in my life, to look up instead of down, to smile instead of frown, to sing even through my tears, and to have hope, always have hope.”

Since I wrote that first blog post, I have completed chemotherapy and have experienced such an outpouring of love I can’t even describe it. The nausea and headache are long gone but I hope never to lose the feeling of warmth and affection that enveloped me as so many people reached out to help me.

Last month I had a bilateral mastectomy and began the long process of reconstruction. Once again God showed His love and faithfulness to me through his people—reaching out and pitching in to help me, so much love, so much generosity, so much encouragement after my surgery and over the last seven months. Now I am cancer free!! God’s goodness has certainly been displayed during this season of struggle. “How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of His years is past finding out.” Job 36:26

I so appreciate the many people who have prayed for me and my healing. My strength is growing with every day and I will give God the glory for His awesome power demonstrated in victory over cancer.  “He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope.”          2 Corinthians 1:10

Photo courtesy of Tainted Canvas.

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Who hid the remote? I want to change the channel…

O.K., so I’ve got to be honest I am tired of dealing with cancer. I have spent the entire summer in doctor’s offices, getting pricked and poked, enduring round after round of chemotherapy, feeling sick and exhausted, bones aching, and I am just really getting weary of living in this documentary about breast cancer!! I am ready for an action adventure, a comedy, or even a sappy chick flick. Just please, somebody change the channel!!

I was crying out to God today and found this verse in the Amplified Bible that seemed to fit my mood. “Evening and morning and at noon will I utter my complaint and moan and sigh, and He will hear my voice.” Psalm 55:17

I am so thankful that God will hear my complaints and not judge me for it. There is just something about telling my Savior about my struggles that makes things easier to bear. The amazing thing is—He WANTS to hear my grievances. He wants to hear me. He wants to hear you.

“Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us, a fortress and a high tower.” Psalm 62:8

When I look back on the last four months as I have battled this disease, God has never let me down. He continues to lift me up even when I complain and grumble. He has shown me His goodness in the people who have cared for me, loved me, and been so faithful to pray for me. He has opened my eyes to so many blessings in the middle of the mess; things I would have surely missed if I wasn’t fighting cancer this summer.

“He has redeemed my life in peace from the battle that was against me.” Psalm 55:18

Perhaps I would have enjoyed a Western or a travel documentary, but now that I think about it, I have learned a lot on this channel.

From why to what and how…

It has been three months since I heard the doctor say, “You have breast cancer.” I think for most people when faced with a difficult diagnosis, major life struggle, or big disappointment the “why” questions come pretty quickly. “Why is this happening to me?” “Why now when life was going well?” “Why GOD are you allowing this?” “Why do some people get healed miraculously but not others?” “Why do people who put their trust in God, still die early deaths?” “Why is there so much suffering?” But as the days turned into weeks, I found the why questions just left me frustrated and in a negative mood.

A helpful shift for me was to start asking “what” questions. “What can I do during this time to encourage others as they face struggles?” “What are the hidden blessings in the midst of all this?” “What is GOD’S purpose for me in this?” “What lessons can I learn now that I wouldn’t have access to otherwise?” This shift in thinking has given me resolve and determination. Now I am energized instead of frustrated. Living in the what has been so much better than living in the why!

Another shift for me has been to the “how” questions. “How is God going to fulfill His promises to me?” “How is God going to be glorified in this time of struggle?” “How can I make the most of this time?” “How will I be different when this is all over?” I think the how questions are the most exciting. Instead of frustrated, I am expectant and hopeful.

I am not an expert theologian, but as I read God’s Word I think the Lord is eager for conversations with us. He longs for us to spend to time with Him and chat like we would with a good friend. I also think it is fair to ask God questions and even complain about our circumstances. I love the Psalms for that! But if the questions we ask lead us to a negative and bitter place, perhaps we need to ask different questions.

“This is what the Lord says–the Holy One of Israel, and its maker; Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands? It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled the starry hosts.”  Isaiah 45:11

I have for many years said to my students and my clients, “We are not in heaven yet, we can’t expect it to be perfect.” We are all part of the brokenness of humanity and will suffer many kinds of struggles in our lives. I think Peter said it best, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12

I have chemo this afternoon and because it is a new drug, I don’t know how my body will react. I had lots of questions for my doctor about this. But this morning I will spend time questioning God and I know He has all the answers.

What questions are you asking today? 

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