I shall never forget the morning of December 3, 2007. Never.
I was home alone, about to leave for work when I decided that I had enough time to check my email. I clicked on a message (that I later found out had been sent in error) and my entire world turned upside down as I discovered that there was a "spiculated mass" in my left breast which was discovered during a routine mammogram. I was not supposed to find out like that. I was supposed to be called. It is not the sort of news you want to receive when there is not at least a compassionate voice on the other end of the line. Trust me.
When someone learns they have or might have cancer, they immediately think of one thing, "I am going to die". We may say we think about death but we don't. Not really, anyway. It is only when the threat of death looms into the present or near future that we find ourselves going eyeball to eyeball with it. Those Christians who joyfully gush about how happy they will be to face death and cross over to the other side usually are not in danger of doing so in the near future.
There is a certain kind of hopelessness that initially hits you when you learn you have cancer. You are faced with your own mortality and though great strides have been made in the treatment of cancer, there is a look of profound saddness in the eyes of health care professionals that you can not escape.This is serious and no one can predict the outcome.
Over the past nine years, I have known four young women that developed cancer around or after I did. Three of them have died, leaving behind children who were not yet grown. One of them is in remission after extremely agressive treatment. The hair on the crown of her head has never come back very well but she has survived and I am praying she will never have to face this beast again.
It has been nine years since my diagnosis and on January 30, 2017, it will be nine years since cancer was removed from my body. I pray that it will never return but I do not want to focus on that. Instead I like to reflect upon what I could have missed and indeed, due to another serious health issue just over two years later, I very well could have.
I spent much of the evening tonight at the hospital with my grandson who is now six weeks old. I held him, cuddled him, talked to him, fed him and simply loved him. I could have missed that. On Monday, I am spending the day with my three "honorary grandchildren" ages five, three and three months. I could have missed that. I could have missed my son's wedding. I could have not been here for my husband when he was going through his darkest moment to date, I could have not been there for my son at a time when he too, needed his mother the most.
There have been some very dark and uncertain times over the past nine years and indeed, some very sad, heartbreaking times. There are things I would have rather not had to have experienced but I did. That is part of living in this world. We will have sorrow and grief as well as joy. Regardless of what we face, we must never forget that God is faithful, no matter what.
Earlier this evening, my attention was brought to Lamentations 3 which in my Bible is a well-marked, well-worn passage. The writer starts out in deep despair and expresses what seems to be utter hopelessness. The writer sums up his feelings in verses 18 and 20.
The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss.
Lamentations 3:19-20 (NLT)
The next words he writes are totally unexpected:
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:
Lamentations 3:21 (NLT)
What does he remember?
He remembers the unfailing, unending love of God and His mercy (v. 22). He remembers God's faithfulness, His mercies that are not for today but are new each and every day (v. 23). He remembers that God is his inheritance, he will hope in Him! (v. 24) He declares the goodness of the Lord (v. 25) and He does not abandon anyone forever. (v. 31) He is a God of compassion (v. 32). God heard his prayers and comforted him (v. 55-57) and in fact, He is our advocate who not only pleads our case, He redeems us. (v. 58).
Regardless of what we may face, regardless of the outcome in this world, we can and must trust God... no matter what!