My mother entered into glory in March 2016. She fought the good fight of faith, and the fight against ovarian cancer for three and a half years. Throughout her whole cancer experience, the Lord was near—even though she experienced incredible physical and emotional pain. I tried to encourage her as a good son, but it seemed like after our conversations, I would be the one encouraged because of her trust in Christ!
Sometime during her battle with cancer, I asked her a few questions about how she clung to her Savior while battling the deadly disease.1 My hope is that her faith encourages you to cling to Christ no matter what.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”
1. How have you clung to God in the middle of your health concerns?
The Lord prepared me ahead of time to meet the challenge head-on. I was strong physically (for me) and had been studying Psalms with a friend for a year prior to my diagnosis. Because I had steeped in Psalms for a year, I determined early on to be honest about my journey when people asked, or even with myself, but determined not to leave my lament at mere whining to God or man. I would complete the lament with remembering who the Lord is, and what He has already done!
Also, early on I learned to look for His mercies and provision. Isaiah 65:24’s “Before they speak, I will answer” was true for me every step of the way. His unmistakable direction and unique provision became something I “eagerly watched” for (Psalm 5:3)! I exchanged my unknowns for the fact that He knew, and would provide, comfort and direct in His time and that became enough! In the moments that I was too sick and weary to cling to Him, I realized He was hanging on to me, and experienced His closeness so sweetly, I know He will never let me go!
2. What has helped you cling to God in this time?
- Good devotionals. In depth study became difficult during my treatments due to brain fog and decreased attention span (affectionately called ‘chemo brain’). I found that The Gospel According to Job by Mike Mason and the devotional Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon to be especially helpful. Both had the brevity my mind could navigate and were constant reminders of the Lord’s role in my affliction.
- Music. Any uplifting, Christian music was sometimes the only way I could get my mind off my circumstances and on to the Lord. Sleepless nights happen in a health crisis, but I would turn on Music Through the Night on Moody Radio rather than toss and turn. And I prayed. Psalm 63:6-7 (that was preached on last Sunday) became my blessed habit. “When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.” These times with my Lord became some of the most precious to date, and I started to look forward to being up during “the night watches”!
3. What made it difficult to cling to God during this health challenge?
- My own understanding! The odds, statistics, supposed side effects, well meant advice from others… Have to keep reminding myself that He is not bound by my odds, but that He is writing my story as He sees fit. All the “what-if’s” are safe in His hands!
- The predictability of the treatment side-effects. It was difficult to know within a day or so, when I would feel the most awful! I began to dread, what I knew was likely coming. Dread and peace cannot co-exist. I had to force myself to focus on how the Lord brought me through the previous rounds and toss any expectations for what I thought I should be getting done, during those hard days. I began to plan for and save some special movie or podcast for those crummy days. I stopped fighting against them, and embraced the recliner and listen to something uplifting I had set aside for that time.
- Don’t Waste Your Cancer by John Piper (PDF).
- An Amazing Example of Christian Love and Hope in Suffering
1 Somehow, I lost track of this interview and didn’t get around to post it until now.