It has been a year since the life of my young family was changed forever.
Up to then I had always had a fairly “normal” life. Small trials like everyone has, of course, but nothing so big that it tested my very faith. Then over the course of the last year, despair, fear, and unbelief threatened to take over that faith, a faith I’ve had in God since my early teen years. In these dark moments I had to cry out to God to keep faith in Him and His ways. I knew in my heart that He would never leave or forsake us, but that didn’t come without a battle.
After a month of sickness and uncertainty about what was wrong with him, our 5-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the blood. He had always been our healthiest child, so it was a big shock. He has spent the last year in treatment, and by God’s mercy he is responding well to it, and we believe that things will continue to go well. Now, as I reflect upon this last year, I think about what I have learned and how I have changed. Three things have become clear to me.
1. God’s Word is true.
Upon hearing that your child has cancer, many things immediately run through your mind. “Why couldn’t it be me? He doesn’t deserve this, how can this happen?” Etc. It was at this difficult point that the only thing I had to hold on to, the only thing that was sure and doesn’t change, was God’s Word and what we read in the Bible. “As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Psalm 18:30.
Lying on the hospital bed beside my son that first week, when dark thoughts tried to flood my mind late at night, it was God’s Word that pierced this darkness and gave peace. His Word is so strong that He Himself swears by it. (Hebrews 6:17-19) Time after time, God was faithful to give me words that upheld me at just the right time. “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help? … The Lord is your keeper, the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.” Psalm 121. How could I doubt such a loving God?
2. God loves me and cares for me.
Growing up in a Christian family, of course I knew that God cares for me; it was something that was ingrained in me. But did I really understand what that meant? Did I really believe that God cares for me personally? So much so, that He only sends the very best my way?
During this time of my son’s sickness, I have learned that yes, God really cares for me and loves me, with all my peculiarities and my difficult human nature. He sends the perfect help when I feel like I can’t go on. A parent’s love for their child is the strongest love in the world, and to see your child in pain when you can’t do anything to help them is an awful feeling. I’ve always been one that wants to have control over my situations and likes things to be organized and well-planned. This is a situation where I have totally no control over the outcome. Yet, in the midst of the chemo treatments at the hospital, when so many are without hope, I felt God’s hand and perfect leading over our family.
I began to realize that I had no other choice but to believe the word exactly as it is written, “Be anxious for nothing …” Philippians 4:6. I had to truly believe that God doesn’t make mistakes, and His only desire is for a future and a hope, for myself and my children. (Jeremiah 29:11) I had to literally “cast all (my) cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 God, in His great mercy, worked things in ways that proved His love for me. Our son responded well to treatment with minimal side effects, and we sensed God’s hand over him and his amazing childlike faith. It brought us closer together as a family. We prayed together and had discussions you never imagine having with your young children. “Mom,” my son said early on, “I love God. He is making me better.” I have no choice but to believe God’s love and care when I hear such words.
3. Prayer works.
It was the prayers of our friends and families that upheld us during the first few months. It was particularly strengthening to hear of young children praying daily for our son. God has, and is continuing to, answer the prayers of our dear friends around the world, as well as our own. I am tempted to doubt and be afraid still, of course, but such thoughts are not from God, and I can safely commit our futures to Him. I believe that what we have prayed for, God will give, when we ask in faith. (James 1:6) The God who has upheld us so far, will continue to do so.
This great love and care that my family has been shown has created a deep desire in me to live life worthy of my calling. There is a greater purpose behind everything that comes our way – that we gain salvation and become more like our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. What a waste of this situation if I didn’t gain more kindness, gentleness, goodness, patience, etc., but instead remained the same person I’ve always been. It is written to “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8. I am thankful for all God brings upon our paths, and want to humble myself under His mighty hand so that I am made ready for Jesus’ return soon.