Trusting God in Illness
You don’t know me, but, according to your sister Rose, you’ve been praying for me for several weeks. I have lots of questions about breast cancer. Rose suggested I e-mail you directly.
So, you’re OK now? Really? It seems as if a lot of people know someone who has survived breast cancer. I had my mastectomy last week. I also had the beginning of breast reconstruction—a breast implant. Who would have pictured someone as “down home” as me with an implant? That’s for self-absorbed actresses, not moms. But I’m told that the implant will help give me a sense of normalcy, even if it clearly isn’t normal.
The surgeon says that one of the lymph nodes in my armpit shows some cancer, so I’m scheduled for chemo to wipe the cancer out. How bad is chemo?
Thanks for your help.
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I’m so glad you wrote. I did have lymph node involvement too, so I had chemo. I actually worked through it, in part because my desk was near the women’s room! Believe me, I was never so tired in my life. I didn’t get a wig, so I wore hats—and they’re hot. My advice: get a wig for when you’re in public! I also had breast reconstruction and an implant. I felt “Hollywood-ish,” but it’s amazing how even a fake thing brings comfort!
All these treatments take time and effort, so make sure you accept help from folks who are willing to drive you, watch your kids, or make meals. You may think you can drive yourself, but it’s a blessing to let others help—as much for their sake as for yours. You would want to help if a friend had to go through what you’re going through. Hopefully, you will soon be able to help others.
How are your kids and husband handling this trial?
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Our church has been very supportive, supplying drivers for the kids and me, bringing meals, and helping with the laundry, grocery shopping, and even housecleaning. Amazing! It has been a real-life example of Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
I know this is all God’s plan, but I worry that my daughter will get breast cancer too. My son seems mad at God for giving me cancer. When he sees me get sick, he hides in his room. Howie took time off from work to drive me to some doctor’s appointments. I worry he’ll lose his job, and we’ll have no health insurance. I worry that my boss will get fed up with me for being lackluster at work, even though I try hard. I worry that folks in church will get tired of helping. I know God is sovereign and knows what’s best, but I sure don’t understand it. Do you?
I can trust God that this cancer is his will and that he will be with me throughout the trial, but I have difficulty thinking how my children will be without their mom, if that’s God’s plan. What if they need me and I’m not there? I know I have to trust God, but that’s so hard.
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No, I don’t understand God’s ways, but I’m learning to trust him in all circumstances.
It’s so easy to focus on ourselves as we go through the trials of cancer. We live with the pain, emotions, and worries every day. Yet you are looking out for the concerns of your family, which is a blessing. Your husband and kids are going through trials of their own because of your suffering. God knows how your cancer will affect them too. When people pray for you, ask them to pray for your family as well.
You’re kidding yourself, however, if you think that by staying here you can keep bad things from happening to your family. We so much want to control what happens to our kids, but it is God who is in control. The apostle Peter knew what it was like to give his “children” over to the care of others. In 2 Peter 1:14, he writes that his time on earth is ending. He warns believers about false prophets and scoffers who will try to draw them away from Christ. But he writes in 2:9 that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials.” It’s not Peter who rescues his children—the church—in their trials; it’s God himself. The same is true for your children.
You don’t know what God’s will is for you, but you do know God, and he loves you and your family. Give all your worries to him—over and over again. God may use this suffering to give you and your family the strength to persevere in other trials. What a blessing that would be!
I’ll keep praying.
New Horizons, January 2012.