It sounds crazy that I could love cancer. It’s not that I desired it or pursued it, as we would anything else we love. I’ve learned to accept it from the Lord and find blessings in the midst of suffering.
I don’t love cancer with a fake spiritual RAH-RAH where I brag my way through a trial and hide the truth. Like anybody going through a trial of body, soul, or mind, I’ve had my Garden of Gethsemane moments, especially lately. That’s why I blogged “10 Things I Hate About Cancer.“
Daily, I must choose to accept this trial by faith and to learn the Lord’s mind and ways in what He allowed for the past 10+ years of my life.
As hard as the cancer journey is, I don’t regret what the Lord has allowed in my life. I surrendered my life to Him and this is what He chose to do with it. If it pleased the Lord to bruise His Son, He may bruise me as well.
10. Family Bonding
During the serious times of cancer, I felt my family’s love and support. Whether it was my own children, my siblings, or extended family, I felt their love and encouragement on the journey. Even distant relatives reached out with cards or messages through social media. They responded to the trial in my life and some relationships were reopened because of this. We stopped taking family for granted. My kids, especially, poured out love and attention all these years, by taking care of me, writing notes and cards, doing the chores that I should have done. I never heard a complaint. My kids teased me when I finally was able to cook a meal or do a load of laundry, but when I was down, they kept the household running.
9. Became A Pilgrim
I heard a Bible teacher explain I Peter 2:11, where Christians are called pilgrims and sojourners as, “We don’t belong here.”
You’ve probably sung these words, “This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through.”
When I heard these things, but I hadn’t embraced them as my own. Life on earth is only a blip in the timeline of your eternity and it’s where you decide where you want to spend your eternity. Since there is no suffering or pain in Heaven, I can endure this blip of time on earth. I’m a-passing through!
8. Embraced the Bucket List
When I was diagnosed at 40, I seriously evaluated my life. No matter how much time left on earth I had, what did I want to accomplish? I had the husband and children I’d always dreamed about, but what about anything else? Writing. Mountain climbing. Traveling. Photography.
I stopped dreaming and started doing.
7. Suffering Walks With Glory
I learned that suffering isn’t punishment or abandonment. Quite the opposite. For the Christian, suffering is identifying with Christ in His sufferings for us. And if we suffer with Him we shall be glorified with Him. It’s not the moment He is the farthest from us, but is the closest. Even though I’d been an avid Bible reader for over 20 years, I finally realized the majority of the Bible talks about suffering, warns us about suffering, and provides comfort when we suffer.
How did I miss that when I was young and healthy?
Because I was young and healthy.
6. Heaven Became a Destination
It turned my eyes to heaven. As a young, healthy wife and mom, thoughts about death were as fleeting as deep sleep.
Doctrinally, I believed I’d go to Heaven when I died because I’d trusted Christ as my Savior. Positionally, I hadn’t grasped that death is a privilege and not a punishment. I knew there would be a day when I’d be welcomed home by my Heavenly Father. I also knew I it would be worth it all when I saw Jesus.
Now, because I have felt His presence during the darkest moments of my life on earth, I look forward to worshipping in the fullness of His presence in Heaven where there is no darkness.
5. Bible Came Alive
As a young child I attended AWANA at the neighborhood Baptist church a few times and heard that the Bible was true and Jesus was the only way to Heaven. I became a Christian at 18 through reading the Bible and believing it by faith. But, in a crisis, faith moves from your head to your heart. Instead of quoting the statement that “all Scripture is God-breathed” I felt God breathing His Words into my heart and mind.
The Spirit also helps in our weaknesses.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
Nothing can separate us from the Love of God.
4. I Found out WHY!
Isn’t our first reaction when something goes wrong to ask “Why?” or “Why me?”
When my cancer returned soon after a complete thyroidectomy and radio-active iodine (RAI) treatment, I was spiritually distraught. One sleepless night I cried out to the Lord, “WHY?!?! I suffered so well for you the first time, why would you give me cancer a second time?”
The answer that came with His comforting presence was as clear as if He’d written it on the ceiling. “That patience may have its perfect work.”
Two older, godly men spoke words that gave my weary soul rest through many trials. Doug Kazen, in a weekend Bible study in our home said, “Our Savior’s life was full of suffering, why shouldn’t ours be?” I stopped fussing with the food in the kitchen and wept with the simplicity of this answer.
John Dabill used to say about trials, “Why NOT you?” We seem to think that our faith should eliminate trials, but He has made it clear that the Christian life will perfected through trials.
I learned it’s not a lack of faith to cry out to the Lord and ask WHY. It’s only a lack of faith when you don’t accept His answer.
3. My Priorities Changed
When your physical strength is weakened your daily decisions are changed. You don’t make a list and try to conquer it all. You choose one thing. If you make dinner, you can’t do laundry. If you grocery shop, you can’t vacuum.
You learn to choose wisely. You choose people first. You choose your health. You choose your faith. And if you have time to straighten the linen closet, good for you, but I can assure you, if you only straighten it every few years, nobody notices and it doesn’t affect the quality of anyone’s life. The blankets that always fall out when you open the door can be shoved back to the top shelf in about 10 seconds if a tall husband is nearby. And if you order pizza for 52 weeks in a row, the kids will think you’re the best mom in the world.
2. Met Amazing People
My life has been touched by special people, fellow sufferers, hospital staff, and caretakers. I’ve felt the fullness of their love and support. Judy, was the nurse that taught me about the Gifts of Cancer. Lynn, was a stage IV metastatic breast cancer patient I fellowshipped with in a coffee shop. The night-shift nurse, Janae, who told me to wear my scar proudly because I was alive and reminded me about Paul’s thorn in his flesh.
1. Felt the Presence of the Lord
As a new believer, I read Richard Wurmbrand’s Tortured for Christ. I was encouraged by the book, but didn’t understand his grief when he left prison and lost the intimate fellowship with the Lord. But, I stored that thought away for over 20 years until I needed it. Then, I understood. When you turn to the Lord during your deepest agony, He will answer. He will comfort. He will uphold. It’s not that He isn’t willing to do that every day, we just don’t feel our need on a day-to-day basis.