But a probability? Nah. Not one case of cancer anywhere in my family tree. So there it was highly unlikely that I would hear the big “C” word after my surgery. Right?
Wrong. Cancer of the thyroid, I learned. Thankfully, a very treatable stage 1. But it truly was cancer, nonetheless.
Wow. Talk about life interrupted.
And yet in the midst of it, I wondered … what does this even mean? Do I have cancer? DID I have cancer? If so, am I a “cancer survivor” when I never even knew I had it, and now it was removed?
Well apparently at that point, all of those answers were, in fact, Yes.
That was seven years ago — when my kids were only 1, 3 and 6. Babies.
And by everybody else’s accounts, so was I. Barely into my mid-30s. “So young” they kept telling me. (If only the fine lines around my eyes agreed!)
Yet the word was real, and so was the disease. The question then became … So now what??
This week in my Proverbs 31 Ministries Online Bible Study, we are discussing our need to #StickWithIt, examining perseverance in Lysa TerKeurst’s book, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God. In Chapter 6, Lysa notes that, “A real sign of spiritual maturity is looking to God not for comfort and convenience but for purpose and perspective … purpose and perspective lead to the perseverance that is evident in those living a truly devoted life. The persistent person eagerly looks to handle trials and struggles in a way that honors God and allows personal growth.” (p. 94)
Lysa also draws us to God’s word, reminding us: “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). The distinction here is not to rejoice because of our difficult circumstances. But rather, to know that we can rejoice while we’re IN the midst of difficult times.
I have found that each step of learning these traits builds on the next. As scripture tells us, God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. But it’s important to note He absolutely gives us what we can handle only with His help!
In the years since that fateful diagnosis, I have come to see that for me, having cancer was a gift, filled with life lessons. (Naturally, I am fully aware this isn’t always the case, and I know I was extremely blessed they caught it so early!)
In my case, I believe God allowed this for me to ‘hold a mirror up to my life’ and examine it closely. To take a deeper look at my relationships, choice of work, church, and appreciation for what life really means. Among other things, we changed churches to find older, godly mentors, and my husband ultimately began his own business. One of the greatest lessons my cancer taught me is that once you realize just how short life is, more than ever you want to make your time here on earth count!
Another lesson I learned in having cancer is that sin can be cancerous. And sometimes there are “cancerous” things in our lives that, despite our best efforts to manage, need to be removed. Destructive habits. Addictions. Certain places of employment and sadly, occasionally even relationships with friends and loved ones. This doesn’t mean that we give up on people entirely. Hardly! We do, however, give them completely up to the Lord to do a mighty work in their hearts and draw them back to Him. God, the great Physician, can cut out the bad and restore it with good.
In that way, our life is interrupted … with the hope that the best is yet to come!
As Lysa writes, “Don’t be afraid of the outcome that’s in God’s hands. You just rest in the delight that walking with God this way is what your soul was designed for. The more you experience God, the more you expect to see and hear from Him every day.” (p. 107)
I couldn’t agree more.
What about you? How have you seen God use moments of interruption in life to get your attention?