In 2001 I lost my dear mother to a recurrence of breast cancer that she had faced many years prior. Similarly, my mom’s sister also lost her battle with breast cancer some time back. Consequently, the high risk of contracting breast cancer was something my sisters and I always knew we could face this side of heaven. Risk turned into reality for me on December 14, 2006, when results of a biopsy were not favorable. Although I began the journey to treat stage 2-breast cancer, I was definitely not alone. The two weeks leading up to my doctor’s appointment were filled with prayer, both my own and those sought from others. Invaluable results ensued.
As I sat across the desk from the physician delivering my prognosis, the presence of the Lord overwhelmed me with assurance of His involvement. I knew that what I was hearing for the first time from my doctor was not “news” to my Heavenly Father! During the appointment, I heard God’s audible voice telling me that He was holding my hand, and would be guiding me through this journey. I was assured that this was not some kind of cruel test that I was being pushed into—just to see how well I could handle the trial; rather, God had a clear purpose and a plan. The voice was so loud that, at one point during the appointment, the thought crossed my mind to tell my “Spiritual Physician” to “Shhhhh” so that I could concentrate on what my medical doctor was trying to say.
Having walked with the Lord for nearly 30 years now, I’m no stranger to His faithfulness and sovereignty; nevertheless, during this journey, he has brought me to a whole new level of understanding. Prayer and peace are two areas I have definitely grown in. I do not doubt for a moment that the prayers of brothers and sisters in Christ carried me through major surgery, chemotherapy, endless appointments, and the ensuing emotional trials (namely fear and anxiety) that otherwise would have leveled me. I had read Romans 8:28 multiple times, but never had more of an appreciation for it than the times when I found it difficult to pray during my treatment. It wasn’t a matter of lacking trust in Him; rather, it was a matter of occasional mental and/or physical fatigue that prevented me from finding the words to pray. In my weakness, the Spirit himself interceded for me with “groans that my words could not express.”
Philippians 4:7 is another scripture that became near and dear to me. When I was facing major milestones (for example, hearing the diagnosis, awaiting surgery, undergoing chemotherapy, hair loss, etc) this scripture came to life as He consistently infused me with peace that transcended all understanding. There was every reason for me to be at unrest, but he wouldn’t allow these circumstances to consume me. He carried me through. Miraculously, I experienced total peace more often than not.
A year has passed now. I pray that the worst of this journey is over, but I have complete confidence that He will be by my side regardless of what tomorrow brings. He is already there. Nothing is too big for God. I want to encourage others to ask for and participate in the power and blessing of intercessory prayer. God does his best work when we are on our knees.