“To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
After the initial shock of the cancer diagnosis wore off, the reality of God’s profound presence became increasingly apparent with each passing day. Despite blood work and scans that revealed a worrisome prognosis, God’s perfect peace prevails and serves as an anchor for my soul.
Most of my life has been spent caring for others. Our childhood was largely consumed by activities intended to manage chronic illnesses and improve quality of life for our physically infirm parents. There were opportunities to watch God work during those years and He showed himself in ways that were undeniable and in keeping with His word. These experiences enriched my relationship with God and I learned to rest in His arms.
Life moved quickly and while marriage and parenthood filled the calendar, the reality of life’s brevity remained a distant illusion. Months and years turned into decades and though my relationship with my Heavenly Father remained sweet, life kept me busy and God and I became comfortable with one another, not unlike an old married couple. Then, as if in the twinkling of an eye, I awoke to find myself no longer the young spirited girl I had once knew, but the older and yet unfamiliar woman I had become. I was forced to face the inescapable ramifications of the aging process even though my mind thought I was yet young. Only when I was challenged with the reality of my mortality, did the dizzying speed of life and the distracting demands of this earth’s activities, crash upon my frenzied existence and require a reassessment of my humanity and test of my devotion and allegiance to my Lord.
I have come to believe my cancer diagnosis has been a blessing. It has burned off the dross in my life that kept me focused on the temporal. The diagnosis has reframed my existence in light of eternity, my affections have been reaffirmed and I’ve come back to my first love. The passion with which I first embraced my Savior some 35 years ago has been rekindled and irrelevant deeds and worldly appetites have been exposed as overwhelmingly inconsequential.
I would never have signed up for a cancer diagnosis, but now, would not give it back. The clarity of mind and spirit that is released in the face of a potentially life-threatening diagnosis is an unexpected gift, a beautiful treasure hidden among the harsh realities of this fallen world. As long as God is glorified in my life, it is of no consequence to me what He needs to do to make that happen.
Father God, You alone give hope in the midst of seemingly hopeless situations. You alone give joy when mourning would be a fitting response to the vicissitudes of life. You alone cause a bird to sing, despite its broken wings and wounded heart. Lord God Almighty, I surrender myself afresh to you today and pray that you would be honored and glorified in all I am and all I do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.