From a sweet trust in God to a faltering trust in God. God didn’t change, I did.
In March 2009, three months after my stem cell transplant my foundation crumbled from under my feet. I was looking for my “normal” (and those of you who have had cancer understand). I wanted to be normal again but what was normal? Because of the trauma of cancer I knew my normal was not the same as on April 23, 2008, the day before I received the results from my lymph node biopsy. My normal was now different, new. I had a new normal.
My exploration of this new normal took me on a lonely path of discovery. I knew God was with me and guiding me but He felt elusive and, of course He was because I didn’t correctly understand Him. I was in the process of rediscovering God, who He was as God and who I was as His child. However, this process began a few years before I was diagnosed with cancer, God was already at work as He dropped a seed word into my life called “sovereign.”
The adjective sovereign is defined as supreme; preeminent; indisputable; and being above all others in character, importance, excellence, etc.
Sovereign God. The triune God, (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) is the eternal, just, loving, ultimate ruler of everything and the first cause of all good things.
This seed word was watered and began to germinate as God’s truth when I was in treatment. My second cycle of chemotherapy introduced new drugs in my treatment protocol, R-hyperCVAD. They made me very sick and I went to ER because of the abdominal pain I was experiencing. As it turned out, the doctor couldn’t find the source of the pain. Later I found out my liver enzymes were elevated, whether or not that created the pain I don’t know. But this experience scared me, what was this chemotherapy doing to my body? This was the first of a few low times.
My son, Chad emailed me a short but poignant note that was my first real step in understanding God’s sovereignty and His divine authority in my life. The note read, “Dear Mom, I am sorry that you have been feeling sick lately. I guess the Fall is hitting you today. I pray that through suffering Christ would wipe away all that you thought was dear and you would treasure and focus on Him. God will use this as a fire to refine you and make you more like Him. Remember Christ experienced suffering so He knows what you are going through. Here are some sermons for you.”
I had to read his note three or four times to understand the truth and full impact of what he wrote. And slowly the truth behind this note began to open and I understood the content of what Chad was saying.
Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God resulted in the fall of man in relationship to God and because of their sin, one of many consequences was sickness. I was suffering from this decaying consequence. This cancer was not my fault and it was not God’s fault; this cancer was the result of Original Sin.
Initially, I thought his statement about Christ wiping away all that I thought was dear was a little harsh but the more I thought about this I realized it was true. Christ’s ultimate goal for me was to fully treasure and focus on Him and how could I if I was holding on to what I thought was important? What was important to me was not eternal, what was eternal was Christ.
And, yes, God did use my cancer as a fire to refine me and make me more like Him. And my comfort came knowing that Christ did suffer and Christ did know what I was going through.
Chad’s note brought a deep comfort to me knowing I was experiencing God’s sovereign and purposeful plan for my life. As my treatment progressed, this truth settled in my heart and mind and I referred back to it often as my health, energy and stamina grew weaker and weaker, becoming more susceptible to complications due to an accumulating effect from the chemotherapy.
God was in control and my trust anchor was deeply embedded in the Rock; I weathered the fierce storm knowing Christ understood my suffering and everything works for the good of those who love Him. (Rms. 8:28)
This infant understanding of sovereignty helped me in my post treatment journey of rediscovering who God was and who I was in relation to Him. I felt helpless and lost knowing that the control I disciplined myself to live by was no longer. The predictability and course I thought my life should have was now a vapor.
(Discovery: sovereign, lordship and trust – part III, following)