A year ago this week, I had an incredible experience that filled me with terror and perfect peace at the same time. God’s presence throughout and His perfect love cast out the fear that seemed to be unavoidable. When I look back at it now, I’m filled with awe and gratitude for how He communed with me through His Word and His people. I had just finished a year of treatments for breast cancer that included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Then, I was told that the breast cancer had spread to my brain. As I prepared to begin treatments for this new diagnosis, I had the privilege to share during the women’s time at the Tidewater RVA Fall Retreat. It was such a gift! Besides the tremendous blessing of spending a little bit of time with these wonderful women, the week I was able to spend meditating, reminiscing and communing with God was the most blessed week of my life. Amidst the chaos in my mind and emotions, He came in and calmed me in the deepest way. I knew that I should be terrified; I could see the fear on the faces of my loved ones and hear it in their voices. We looked at the statistics for my diagnosis and it was not good. That I am here right now and doing so well is not what we expected. As I thought about what to share with you here, I was drawn back to something that God has been teaching me for many years: to trust Him. It sounds so simple and, really, it is. But I have found that when everything is going well, I don’t tend to trust Him. I find ways to take care of everything, either by myself or, more frequently, with the help of others; and, honestly, most of the time, it works out pretty well. After all, if it didn’t work out so well, we wouldn’t keep trying to do it all on our own. God used my experience last year to show me that I am not able to take care of any of it, no matter how big or small. This thing was just too big and too out of my control. The “big” thing was the radiosurgery I had on my brain, but the sweetest thing was the week He gave me with Him. God reminded me of His faithful and steadfast love and that He would never leave nor forsake me. He has used a passage in Jeremiah to remind me that He is the only one who is worthy of our trust. I want to share that passage with you and a little bit of what it meant to me specifically during this time a year ago.
Here is an excerpt from my Caring Bridge post right after my first cyber knife treatment (if you’re not familiar with radiosurgery, google it — it’s pretty cool!):
My first radiosurgery treatment is behind me now and I am so glad! It turned out to be fairly easy, so I trust that my treatments on Monday & Tuesday will be, as well. I laid on a skinny, but comfy table for about 1 1/2 hours with a plastic mesh mask over my face that was attached to the table. As soon as it was buckled down, I felt pressure on my head and that remained throughout the time; just a little reminder that, “No, Cynthia, you can’t sit up or even move your head, so don’t even think about it.” With my claustrophobia this should’ve been terrifying, but God kept me calm and it was actually a fairly pleasant experience. . . On Tuesday of this week, I was feeling scared all day; just thinking about the procedure and all that could go wrong (I don’t even know all that could go wrong, but my mind is pretty good at making stuff up). I was focusing on the humans who would be doing the treatment . . .
The next day, God began to remind me that He was going to be the one in charge of all of it, not the humans, they are His instruments, not the other way around. What a difference that made! Suddenly, I began to feel a little excited about getting it done (I also tend to swing wildly from one extreme to the other, at times), so by the time I went in today, I was feeling pretty fine about it all . . . A passage that the Lord has used for me in the past came to me today and I want to share it with you. Maybe it will be something that God will use for you in your current circumstances or to prepare you for what’s to come. Jeremiah was a prophet to Judah and was told by God that he needed to give them a warning they wouldn’t heed, they would reject him (Jeremiah and God), but that God would deliver him; not an entirely pleasant thing for Jeremiah to hear, nor task to be given, but Jeremiah obeyed. In this passage, God reminds him and us in whom we can place our trust:
Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
At first glance, it can hit you wrong; we all have people in our lives who we trust and we don’t like to think that there’s even a possibility that they could let us down. But this truth is that we all have that in us, the inability to be trustworthy at times, because we’re human and the sin nature is still in us telling us that we are self-reliant and don’t need God. So, the strong word of “curse” here is definitely appropriate in the sense that no person is worthy of our full trust; only God is and, truly, blessed is the one who puts his trust in the only One who is worthy and able to carry out the promises He has made. This is the truth that I carried with me today into that room with the skinny table and apparatus that shot radiation beams into my head that were so strong that the humans administering them had to stand on the other side of a very thick door. And on that, I could not let myself dwell; my focus was, and is, on my Father who loves me unconditionally and so much that nothing can separate me from that love, even me. I hope that you are able to hear and apply this truth to whatever is going on in your life right now, whether it be something difficult or joyful. Often, the joyful things do a bigger job of drawing us into our own self reliance, so I pray that we will all be aware of where and in Whom we are placing our trust. Only He is worthy!
I’m thrilled to report that God used these treatments to knock out the three tumors! I have had three clear brain scans in the past year. I’ll have a brain scan every three months, most likely, from now on. I am so thankful that God is still reminding me that I can trust Him, no matter what comes.
I am a big supporter of CRU, especially Tidewater RVA CRU! I love seeing God’s love displayed through college students as they are faced with huge challenges and I want to offer encouragement. My husband, Paul, and I live in Yorktown; we have 4 grown children, a son-in-law and 2 grandchildren. I love listening to podcasts while I’m doing all kinds of tasks at home, everything from sermons to true crime stories. I have found that there are not enough hours in the day for me to hear all of the ones I am interested in and that is very sad.