“Who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you.
I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save.”
It is hard to remember when I’ve ever felt so cared for. Walking through my cancer diagnosis, the plethora of tests and the recent surgery gave me abundant opportunity to experience God’s promises first hand.
We are reminded in Isaiah 46:3,4 of God’s assurance to carry us throughout the course of our life. During this recent journey, I’ve felt like a child carried safely in her father’s arms, up and away from the flickering flames of life’s unavoidable challenges. I sensed Jesus had wrapped me in his arms, holding me close beginning with the first doctor visit and while my pain-filled, weary body was ushered into the surgical suite.
Psalm 66:16 reads, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.”
It’s difficult not to talk about it, to share just what really happened. I feel like I would be doing such a disservice to Jesus if I were to remain silent. It seems like a betrayal of all that is True and Right and Lovely to not speak of His love and the intimate care he provided during this unexpected challenge. As believers in Jesus Christ, we know the promises of God and we hold fast to them. But if we were honest, until the fires of crisis are licking at our feet and bad news crushes the breath out of our lungs do we view God’s promises from a watershed perspective.
I never doubted my love for Jesus and always wanted to honor him with my life, but until he asked me if I was willing to yield my body up to pain and surrender my life as I knew it, I didn’t know the depth of my love. More importantly, I did not realize the depth of his love for me. I felt Jesus was asking me to surrender all that I held dear, and I silently wondered how I’d respond.
Quickly I determined he had given me everything that mattered to me. He blessed me with a life I consider to be precious. I have friends and family that enrich my days beyond comprehension and a career that allows me to minister to children and potentially affect their lives for the better. He blessed me with eternal riches, the promise of eternal life and the forgiveness of my sins that once held me captive. As he had given me much more than I ever deserved, I felt it was a small thing for him to ask of me and I laid it all out at his feet, surrendered myself afresh to him and asked only that He be given the honor and glory due his holy name.
God’s peace came as a flood rendering the outcome of my diagnosis irrelevant. Any sorrow I felt came only as a result of the grief mirrored on the faces of my beloved friends and family. They didn’t want to see me suffer and we don’t want to lose those we love. Therein was the rub. How to abandon myself to my heavenly father, without feeling like I was abandoning those beloved souls who I’ve deeply loved and cherished during my earthly passage.
The surgery was scheduled and God carried me through the operation, as he promised. The final prognosis was better than expected with the surgeon believing he successfully removed all cancer. I am immeasurably grateful for the encouraging report and humbled for the opportunity to have experienced my Heavenly Father, as the tender, loving, caring and faithful father that my heart has long known and loved.
During this past week, Scriptures have jumped off the pages of my Bible and jumped right into my heart. The words come alive and the Spirit of God within me identifies with the passages in new ways. This has been the case with the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Daniel 3 describes these three Hebrew youths as courageous in their determination to worship the One true God and in so doing, they willingly disobeyed Nebuchadnezzar’s order to worship a golden statue. The penalty for disobeying the king’s order was that they would be thrown into an immense, blazing furnace. They said:
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.
But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
(Daniel 3:16-18, ESV)
I identified with these young boys in that I felt myself to be in a burning fiery furnace facing a judgment that I could not escape. I chose to trust and believe that my Heavenly Father was with me in my deepest, darkest hours. As I clung to Jesus, I found rest in his arms and peace as he carried me and delivered me from my furnace of affliction. My future will play out, day-by-day and week-by-week with yet revealed mountains to climb. But God has made himself known in a very real and tangible way allowing me to rest in the assurance of his continued care and eternal love. I join Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in saying, “I have emerged from the fire, with not even a hair on my head singed or the smell of smoke on my clothing.”
Father God in Heaven, I will face my future with confidence knowing that you, my God, will supply my every need, according to your glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Thank you for carrying me, loving me, and orchestrating every event according to your will for my good and your glory. My soul finds rest in you alone. In Jesus’ name. Amen.