Here I am, five days after my back surgery, thinking how things don’t always go as planned. Physically, I’m doing well. My back pain is all but gone (hallelujah, praise the Lord!), and I’m just left with tiredness and weakness that I hear is normal after surgery.
I planned on using all this recoup time to read and write and basically enjoy everything an introvert delights in. But my biggest hurdle has been emotional, and according to Google, after-surgery depression is actually a thing. All that to say, until I can go a day without spontaneously crying for no real reason, I probably shouldn’t write. In public anyway.
So I wanted to share with you an article I wrote for My Journey of Faith Online magazine that published over the weekend. I hope you enjoy.
I hung up the phone with my mom, in somewhat of a shock as I processed the good news she had just given me.
What was this feeling, creeping into my mind unbidden? I hadn’t felt it in the two years of her cancer battle.
Was it hope?
And dare I let it in?
I’ll never forget the grief as I had listened to the oncologist on that cold November evening. Incurable, but treatable, he said. In other words, this thing is going to kill her; it’s just a matter of when.
And so I began the process of grieving, almost instinctively. Hope for an earthly healing was shut out of my mind, never even making an appearance.
Until that day when my mom called. I feared hope. I couldn’t grab hold, lest it let me down. Instead, I chose to rejoice in knowing that this good news meant I’d have my mom longer.
Quickly, I sent texts to a few good friends and family, informing them of the good news: the tumors in her lungs had all either shrunk or disappeared. My best friend’s reply text shook me up. It read, “Praise the Lord! I have been praying for healing and I believe that it can happen!”
Shame engulfed me. While my best friend and countless others prayed for my mom to be healed, not once do I recall praying for healing. Why on earth, would I not pray for my mom to be healed from cancer?
Bear with me for a little brutal honesty here. I had been burned by the whole praying for healing thing. I prayed and prayed and prayed that my father-in-law would be healed of his cancer. For two long years he fought hard and brave but in the end his body wasn’t healed. I still don’t understand. Of all people. The only thing I clung to was that God’s ways aren’t my ways and someday – most likely in Heaven – I’d understand why our prayers weren’t answered. I learned something hard and quick when my father-in-law wasn’t healed:
God’s plans for his children are higher than ours. I can trust Him. In sickness and in health and in death. And sometimes His plans are higher than physical healing.
So with my mom, I simply wasn’t going to go there. I still can’t decide if it was bubbling anger under the surface, intent I wasn’t going to get burned again, or if it was a deep faith that God has my mom in His huge, tender hands and she will be okay and I will be okay. I think it was a little bit of both.
But now, hope crept up with this DNA-matched treatment that wasn’t available when she was first diagnosed.
Is it possible? Could this treatment that sends her body into a whack-a-mole of side effects rid her lungs of this disease?
Over the last three months, I’ve allowed this hope to live restrained, like a returned prodigal you’re not sure you can trust yet. And now, we face another scan report in two weeks that holds answers to questions. Is this treatment still working? Or has the cancer outsmarted it and released its fury? Has the treatment held the tumors at bay? Or has it eradicated her body of it altogether?
Dare I hope?
This morning I read in 1 Peter, and a phrase leaped off the page: “Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4 HCSB, emphasis mine).
This living hope, I realized, transcends cancer and threat of death. Living hope isn’t dependent on a good scan report. Living hope isn’t restrained by cords of our fragile lives on earth.
Over the last few months, hesitant prayers of healing for my mom have slipped from my heart to His, almost like my son’s requests of me. I still can’t bring myself to throw my whole heart into these prayers of healing, but I hope simply bringing Him a request that I had previously shut out, He will see.
And maybe, He will be able to say yes.
But if He doesn’t, I know there is a greater good, a greater need. I know, as I knew all along, that my mom is in God’s big, tender hands. As am I.
And I can trust more than good scan results in this living hope that is indeed imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading. This living hope will not disappoint.