We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Cancer, Covid, and the Grace of God

Strange symptoms. Unanswered questions. Multiple appointments. More tests. Inconclusive results. Endless waiting . . .

It's been over a year since my health journey began and I was told to see an oncologist.

Wait! See an oncologist? But the abdominal biopsy and PET scan shouted the diagnosis: Stage 3 Lymphoma.

"But this can't be happening to me! I eat healthy. I exercise. I've worked hard to steward my body. And besides, haven't I been through enough with my husband's death in 2015 and leftover limitations from a 2003 car crash? And what about my daughters who already lost one parent . . . and my elderly dad . . . and my job . . . and . . ." 

It was too much. My world crumbled. My anxiety sky-rocketed. And truth be told, I felt angry.

Last August, during those confusing weeks, I shared:

If you're like me, life's surprise trials can "throw you for a loop," as my mom used to say. We feel blindsided, panicky even - and find ourselves wondering, "Is this my fault? What could I have done differently? What about the others this will affect? Where is God in all this?" We just want to get back to normal, after all. We want to be healthy, stable, predictable . . . fine. 

But maybe "perpetually fine" is unrealistic. Jesus said, "In this world you will have tribulation" (John 6:33), but He doesn't leave us alone. Can we trust His sovereign yet loving hand? Will we choose to express gratefulness to Him and to the people around us? Will faithfulness characterize our daily walk? Can we learn contentment, regardless? 

A brochure came in the mail this week with these settling words: "Because God loves us so much, He never allows pain without purpose. He longs for us to run to Him and find shelter, courage, strength, and help in our times of distress. In these moments, we are drawn closer to Him, and we begin to understand His working in our lives."

The concept of trusting God to write your story isn't new to me, yet during the past year God has lovingly led me to trust Him more. Thinking and believing truth revealed through God's Word reminds me that His ways are higher and His thoughts more accurate than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9). 

Even in my darkest moments, when I find myself wringing my hands with tears streaming down my cheeks, I'm learning that God's promises stand regardless of my circumstances. The world often harms us, "but God intends it for good to accomplish what is now being done" (Genesis 50:20). Perhaps He is using my illness to heal my heart.

At this point in my journey, God has supplied a team of doctors and practitioners whose help has been invaluable. When I contracted COVID just before Christmas, He graciously directed me to a health coach whose protocol brought healing at a vulnerable time. My family has been supportive, and many have been praying.

Eleven months after my diagnosis, I still have cancer. I'm still uncertain of what's ahead. I still have multiple appointments and unanswered questions and periods of waiting. I slip back into times of tearful worry and anxiety. All this, but I'm in a different place. A place of acceptance (most of the time) with a deeper trust in the One who works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). 

Mine is a story of grace . . . penned without ink.