Well, I’ve been through the first round of ‘atta-girl, #nomorecancer’ tests this year. I didn’t anticipate any bad news, but it’s nice to hear. There will be blood work in April and then nothing with the “c” word in it for me for another year.
But…well…to be honest, I’m suffering from a bit of survivor guilt this week. It’s crazy. I know this in my head; however, it is difficult to understand life, at times. This week, a beautiful young wife and mom in our church community lost her two-year battle with colon cancer. She was 34, with a daughter who will be 3 years old next month. This woman was vivacious and purposeful in her love for God, her family and others. Her loss is leaving a large hollow opening in our body of believers. I trust we will be able and willing to step up to fill it.
I did not know her personally, but some in my circle of friends did, and my daughter knew her. Nevertheless, I kept up with her journey from afar, especially in recent months…once you have been touched by cancer, you kind of develop a radar for others in the trenches of the same war. It’s bizarre, really; at first, I tried to keep her at a distance, mentally and emotionally, but I soon learned that it wasn’t possible for two reasons:
One: we were sisters in Christ.
Two: we were sisters in a battle against a disease that is evil.
Since that realization occurred, I have prayed for her, as the Spirit has brought her to mind, and I have hurt for her. Last week, when it became apparent that cancer was going to win, this sister, this family, became increasingly heavy on my heart. She passed into the Father’s arms on Tuesday night; her memorial was today.
I didn’t go. I wasn’t part of a friend group or anything like that, just someone on the margins who cared and prayed and wept for them…and asked God why her and not me.
I mean, I’ve had the blessing of being married all of these years to a loving man and raising our amazing children. God has allowed me to see six beautiful, gifted grandchildren added to our family and to be part of their lives for a season. I can truthfully say that I have had a full and blessed life and been honored to see God do some astounding things. Not to be morbid or maudlin, but if I were to die now, I couldn’t complain.
But when a life is taken from us at 34, an age we think is too young, too soon, it does beg the question, why? I’ve asked God some heartfelt questions before, like when I was a hospital chaplain; I was asked to do the funeral for one of my patients, a 17 year-old who had succumbed to leukemia. Death at that age just feels out of order!
I don’t think our Father is ever threatened by my questions; in fact, I believe that He invites me to grapple with my faith. In Isaiah 1:18, and 43:26, God invites us to ‘reason together’. This is not implying in any way that I am challenging God’s superior wisdom with my own; He knows I am dust. But I also believe He understands my need to question at times…and then trust that His ways are above my ways, and that His ways are perfect, (Isaiah 558-9; Psalm 18:30).
I must and do believe that ultimately God’s glory will be revealed – even in situations I don’t understand, (and there are many), or that feel out of my sense of order, or in situations that appear to be a victory for the enemy…because He said that His glory would be revealed and all flesh will see it, (Isaiah 40:5).
One day, the enemy will be crushed beneath our feet, but until then I will ask my questions and my Father will hear my cries…sometimes He gives me answers , but always He comforts me in my distress.
I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore, my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. For you will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will you allow Your Holy One to see corruption. You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16: 4-8