The news was not good. In addition to the other serious health issues she had been told the devastating news that the cancer had metastasized.
She had struggled to be optimistic when I first met her two weeks earlier. She is a follower of Christ but when one deals with life-threatening chronic illness and the body is so weak and tired, it is easy to get discouraged. It is easy to feel loneliness and despair.
People can say that they understand but if they have not had a deadly disease loose in their body... they don't. I know. I watched my father battle cancer when I was a teenager and I can tell you. Watching the battle from the outside is difficult but it is nothing compared to fighting it internally. Truthfully, we could say that about a lot of things.
A couple of other cancer survivors and myself connected with her two weeks ago. We were strangers to her but within moments we connected, not just as sisters in Christ but as sisters who understood what it felt like to hear those words, "It's cancer."
Now, two weeks later, those words were said again. This time though, several pairs of hands reached out to her. These hands belonged to people who remembered their own battle with cancer. They remember and because they remember, she opened "the door" and let them in.
Well-meaning words from a non-survivor had wounded her when I talked to her. The person hadn't understood and she knew that but still... they hurt. We talked about it and she found comfort in it. It was okay to cry. It was okay to feel afraid sometimes. It was okay. God understands and He is not angry at you for doing so. Sometimes... you just have to cry, you know.
I'm sitting here right now in the darkness, thinking back over the road I have traveled the past four years. Tomorrow, February 29th marks the fourth anniversary of the day I started chemo. Did I want to walk that road? No. In fact I begged God to not make me have to do it. I begged Him to let me take a different path. I will never forget His response. "You are going to have to walk this road. Are you going to do it with me or attempt to do it on your own." With tears streaming down my face I said I'd rather go through cancer with Him than be anywhere else without Him.
When the road of our life takes a sharp turn and suddenly dips down into The Valley of The Shadow of Death, all we can see at the moment is the darkness. It is hard to remember that Jesus Christ is Lord over "the darkness" and that our God turns our darkness into light! (Psalm 18:28)
Often we interpret that light as meaning God will immediately eradicate our pain, our suffering, our disease. Does it ever occur to us that perhaps God has us remain on that "dark path" for a reason? Does it ever occur to us that perhaps we are on that road so that we can help and encourage others we encounter upon that same road? Does it?
The call of Jesus Christ to us is the same that it was to Andrew, to Peter, to James, John and so many others. "Come and follow me." As Christians, we responded to that call. Do we mean it or are we willing to only follow Him when the way pleases us?