April 20th is a day that will forever be just a memory away. It's the day my dad died. He had battled cancer for a year. That was twenty-seven years ago and at times I can recall it just as if were yesterday. I was nineteen when my dad died. Only nineteen. That was a life changing moment for me. In years I was a woman, but in so many ways I was still a little girl in need of her daddy. My life went spiraling out of control.
So, in April of this year when my mom got a call from her doctor it sent me back all those years ago. My mom had gone in for her check up. An x-ray showed something unusual. She was sent for a CT scan. The days waiting for the results were difficult. I'm much older than nineteen now, but when this is your parent, I don't think your age matters what bit. Your still scared. Just as when my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer I tried to be strong. I'm not really sure I ever cried in front of my parents that entire year.
My mom was nervous. In her mind she already knew she had cancer and was dying. She announced, "I don't care what it shows I will not have any kind of treatment. It is what it is." My mom is a woman of faith, but I knew she was frightened. She had seen my dad go through a terrible trying time and she didn't want any part of that again. I had to respect her wishes.
Unlike twenty-seven years ago, I am now a woman of faith. I knew in my gut that this was nothing. I feared what it could be, but I wasn't even going there. Not yet, anyway. The nurse had told my mom, "There is a mass in your lung and we have to find out what it is." Those words brought deep anger to me. My dad had found out through a phone call that he had cancer. I wasn't about to allow my mom the same. I called the doctor. I didn't get answers, so I went into the office. I read the report and it wasn't a mass. It was "something" that was two centimeters in diameter. Once my mom heard the word mass everything stopped. She was no longer thinking clearly, but found herself in fear. All I wanted to do was comfort my mom. I could imagine my mom going to bed that night with a pillow covered in tears.
I began praying. I remember when my dad was sick I would pray. I didn't know Jesus as my Savior, but I knew there was a God. At least I did until my dad wasn't getting better. Then I was angry. I was bitter and I knew without a shadow of doubt there was no God. Now as I look back, even though I refused to believe in God, He was right there with me. He was creating an opening for me to come to know Him. Oh, isn't that how we are? When things are going the way we wish God is real and great, but the moment things begin to go a different course, Jesus isn't real at all. He couldn't be. If He were, He would show Himself real, right?
That's not how believing works. I know that now. While waiting on the results of my mom's tests I poured my heart out to the Lord. When I was all alone the tears came easily. My thoughts were, "Lord, not again. Not my mom." I could feel fear welling up in me. I grabbed my Bible and began reading His Word. I could feel Him easing my doubt. With each prayer, with each word uttered, I could feel His strength and His tender mercy washing me into peace. It was then I knew that whatever happens I will still believe. Faith is trusting in the Lord when you can't see what's about to happen. I spoke through tears and said, "Lord, whatever Your will. That too is what I want."
My mom's tests came back and there was nothing unusual in the CT scan. I lifted my hand and said, "Praise Jesus", before my mom was even off the phone. I told her, "See Mom, I told you everything would be okay. No matter what, I told you Jesus would take care of everything." I wish I had known that kind of faith when I was nineteen. It would have brought me through a time in my life that almost destroyed me. But just as the Lord brought me through then, He has carried me through other trials that I didn't think I would survive. By the grace of God I am here to tell you that God never leaves our side. As He brings us through one trial, He is preparing us for the next. My faith has grown deeply as I have witnessed Him move in my life. I can honestly tell you, I was ready to hear the worst of news or the best of news. Whatever it was to be I knew that the Lord would guide us. I knew that no matter what He would bring us through and be with us each step of the way.
This April was the anniversary of my dad's home going. My dad was saved just a few days before he died. Again, God is so good. He had a plan and that plan included bringing my dad to salvation. In that I have peace and comfort. I know without a doubt I will one day see my dad again. It was during this same week that all this was happening to my mom. I think this is one reason it hit her so terribly hard. I'm not sure my mom will ever totally heal from losing my dad. Does anyone really? That pain is just one memory away always.
In my journey with the Lord I have learned that I either believe in Him or I don't. I either trust Him all the way or I don't. On this journey of faith I have come to that place that no matter what I still believe. My prayers were answered and God's answer happened to be what I wanted to hear, but what about in those times in the future when my prayers are said and they have reached heaven, but the answer is no? What then? Prayer isn't about getting what I wish for. Prayer is a conversation between me and my Savior. In faith I must be willing to accept His answer whatever it may be.
I say this now, but more trials will come. My faith will be tested. This world will try to shake me. No matter what changes come we serve a God who is never changing. I am to pray for His will. After all, He sees what I cannot. He knows the outcome and if I'm willing to follow Him all the way, He will show His mercy and grace. His plan will unfold before my eyes and if I'm focused on Him I'm going to witness His boundless glory.
We can't allow the circumstances of this world to shake us. Our core must remain solid in Him. But friends, it's through those very trials that we learn more about Him. In learning about Him we learn more about ourselves. There is no Goliath too big for God. He knows every detail to every situation we face. We don't have to fear at all, for He is already there ahead of us preparing a way.
We must walk in hope and we can with our Savior. We can be encouraged through His Word. We can be inspired by His life. We can be transformed by His love. Sometimes the unexpected is going to come. We can't be prepared for all circumstance that touches our life, but we can be so firmly planted in Christ that when those life altering moments come He is the One we turn to for support. It's okay to scream. It's okay to cry. We are going to be angry. God created us with emotions. We feel pain. We hurt and confused. But friends, that's the beauty of having a Savior. We can go to Him and be honest. He is accepting of us and He will meet our needs. He fills that void. He comforts where nothing else can. He eases burdens. He gives strength when we are weak. He is there for us. I have come to realize that He is my all.
I know that there are other issues my family will face. Life is filled with trials and pain. It's part of our walk. It too is filled with love and laughter. It's the journey with Jesus that changes everything.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" Philippians 4:6-7