Each season of life brings new joy and new challenges. As a teenager, I remember thinking the stress of school would never end. As a college student, each semester brought new syllabi, new expectations, new workload and again – new stress. Skip through a few seasons and stop at my cancer diagnosis.
In a recent conversation, I was retelling the events that lead to my diagnosis. I had had symptoms – a little blood in my stool and the feeling of constantly needing to go to the bathroom – for several months. I was assured by my primary care doctor that these symptoms were nothing to worry about, as I was “too young” for this to be anything serious. By the time I was referred to a gastroenterologist, I knew this was more than a lack of fiber in my diet. I had read about every possibility and deep down I knew cancer was in that mix, but you never think something like that will actually happen to you – not at 32 anyway.
The day I was scheduled to see this gastroenterologist was also the day we were leaving for a two-week vacation with our families. I walked into that office and the waiting room was packed! People were sitting in every available chair, on side tables and even in the hallway outside of the office door. The receptionist informed me that the doctor was running at least 2 ½ hours behind. I called my primary care doctor and explained that I was leaving for vacation that afternoon, and his response was – “Go. Go on vacation. Enjoy this time with your family, and we will have a new appointment with another GI when you return. Enjoy.”
In this conversation recently, it was insinuated that I may have “put off my appointment”. I fervently explained that I had not put off my appointment, but God had put off my appointment. In that moment, I saw a look of surprise or wonder hang within the conversation. That’s right. It was God that filled that room with waiting patients and pushed that doctor’s schedule so far off course that He knew I would not have the patience to wait. The following two weeks were spent relaxing with my family at the beach. I needed this time with my family and I didn’t even know why, but God knew. He knew my world was about to forever change and I was about to receive the most devastating news of my life. Colon cancer did not only affect my colon, but treatment and long-term side effects have forever changed my life – emotionally and physically.
When I think of all the trips we have taken, none will ever compare to that vacation. That time with my family will forever hold the most sacred place in my heart. God new I needed that time to prepare and he made sure it happened.
Now, as I approach the 7th anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, it’s a reminder that God has a plan. He has blessings waiting to for me. He works everything out for our good. Even the most painful and devastating news, has a silver lining. When I look at my life and the challenges that are weighing on the shoulders of my friends and family, we have to remember God will work this out.
There is a conflict brewing close to me and I hope those reading this will remember that God has been faithful in the past and He will be faithful now. Look back at every situation or mountain you have already faced and remember it was God that carried you through and He will carry you through again. It’s so hard to understand the reason for the conflict, the stress or the challenge when it is right in front of you, but you don’t have to understand it.
Give your concerns, stress, anxiety or challenges to God… Mathew 11:28-29: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
God is here, present and in the moment with you… Hebrews 13:5 God has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
Remember our troubles are momentary…This too shall pass. Corinthians 4: 17-18 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
God has a plan…Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Most importantly…God loves you. I mean REALLY loves you! Romans 8:38-39 … 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 be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It’s hard to face our daily challenges when they seem like a mountain and we forget that we are not alone. We seem to forget that we don’t have to work these things out, all we have to do is be willing to follow.
The days and weeks before I began my treatment seemed like a labyrinth of decisions, exams and tests results. From the beginning, I knew God was with me, but the day I gave it all to God their was peace in my heart and the path straightened. The right doors opened and the wrong doors shut. I could make decisions regarding my health and my treatment with confidence, and go forward without fear.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank you for your promises to always be with us and the knowledge that you have already worked everything out ahead of time. Please give strength and encouragement to those facing conflict and trying to carry life’s challenges on their own. I ask that you would take their burdens and let your love bring peace into their life.