Over the past few years, my life has been marked by health challenges, as well as a personal and spiritual wilderness-like experience. This sense of distance from God has likely been a result of my independent spirit, my lack of daily acknowledgement of my need for God, and my need to be in control of everything. However, I have recently been forced to confront all of these things by God’s intervention in my life and health.
For the past 5 years I have experienced a subtle decline in my health, with concurrent weight gain, “blue” feelings, feelings of inadequacy, lethargy, migraines, an inability to exercise without feeling significantly worse and other day-to-day health challenges. About a year and a half ago I sought help for one of these problems. This launched me onto an 18-month long medical roller coaster, with one thing after another being uncovered, culminating in the most significant challenge to date: a tennis ball sized tumor in my abdomen.
I had gone to the emergency room one night with severe abdominal pain, which the doctors thought might be caused by kidney stones. A CT scan confirmed that I did in fact have 2 small stones, but also revealed the mass in my abdomen. The doctor ordered more tests to determine what this mass was. She thought it was likely a benign fibroid tumor, but I would need more tests to be sure.
The following day I was scheduled for an ultrasound. As I lay on the table, I recall asking the ultrasound technician if she saw what the other scan had showed. She said she wasn’t really supposed to tell me but, “Yes, I see the same.” She then asked the radiologist to come and take a look at the scan. He said that he agreed with the doctor and that it appeared to be a benign fibroid tumor. I remember leaving feeling somewhat reassured, but still uncertain as to what it would mean.
My initial thoughts were of fear and concern for my family. What if it was not benign? For many years, I have struggled with worry and fear. On that day, I was confronted with my faith in a way like never before and the verse Matthew 6:27 kept playing in my mind. Can any of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life? In that moment I determined to take one day at a time, believe that the tumor was benign until I was told differently, and trust God for His plan. I also remember bargaining with God and telling him that if this is what he wanted to use to bring my unbelieving family members closer to him, then I’m fine with it, cancer or not!
Next was the wait for a confirmation and a diagnosis, something I was told could take 3-8 months, then the wait for surgery. At our home group that week, I asked for prayer that I would get an appointment quickly — even daring to ask for one within the next week.
What followed was a series of miracles.
Miracle #1- I was able to get into the specialist as a pocket patient — someone on standby for a last minute cancellation — just 5 days after our home group had prayed. I met with the surgeon and after reviewing the reports, she said that she also thought the tumor was growing aggressively, from nothing to 6 cm in diameter in 1 year. We agreed that I was going to have a total hysterectomy. I left the office excited and thanking God for getting me in so quickly and for a plan.
Miracle #2- My surgery was planned for January 11, just 8 weeks after seeing the surgeon. For the weeks between seeing the surgeon and having the surgery, I was able to rest, thanking God for getting me in so quickly and having confidence that now there was a plan. I was able to enjoy an amazing family holiday in Florida over Christmas, and life largely carried on as usual.
In the week prior to my surgery, I was anxious about my family and what could happen. I remember my husband asking, “This surgery is no big deal right? There aren’t really any risks are there?” The reality was, that this was a pretty big deal and there were risks. The night before surgery I remember tucking my boys in and praying with them, then sobbing afterwards, wondering if this could be the last time I kissed them goodnight.
The next morning, I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling I had as we drove to the hospital. I kept telling myself that this surgery was routine and that I trusted my surgeon, that I wanted this and this was the plan. But as I waited alone in the pre-op area, I cried out to God asking for his peace. I reminded him that I knew He loved me and that He was in control. Once I came out of the surgery and woke up in recovery, I remember feeling a real sense of warmth and of God’s presence over me and I felt covered by his love. I was told that all went well but nothing more. I was too drugged up to ask about the tumor.
Miracle #3- The following day, my surgeon came to see me. She told me that the tumor wasn’t there. I asked where it went and she said she couldn’t explain that. I just smiled — again under heavy pain meds — and exclaimed, “Well, I had lots of friends praying.”
I phoned Ryan and my parents, and texted my friends. They were all amazed. My dad reminded me that the same thing happened to my grandfather several years ago with a tumor on his lung. It made me think about how God must have a plan in this and wondered what it could be, if this would get through to my family.
About a week after being home, my sister-in-law reminded me of Ephesians 3:20 and how this is a great example of how God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine. We spoke about how he chose to work in me, in spite of my prayers and those of others, that he is not bound by our prayers, but that he still wants us to bring them to him because when we bring our prayers to him, it is an act of humility and trust. It is a declaration that we need him because we cannot do it on our own. We are not in control. We are not God.
I was confronted with an answer to my question of “Why does God do this or that?” The answer seems so simple. In Ephesians 1:14 it says “to the Praise of his glory.” When we are faced with situations and we want to ask, “Why did you allow this or why did you do that,” even if we don’t see the good, we can acknowledge that everything that happens is so he gets the praise and the glory.
And why did he take the tumor away? So that he would get the glory for doing just that. You see, even after the tumor was found, I was trusting my doctor to heal me. Everything about the surgery was her plan for how we were going to deal with it. I had thanked God for getting me to her so quickly, but ultimately I knew the healing was going to happen when she removed it. And after the recovery, I would have gone back to my same routine and schedule.
But God wasn’t about to let that happen. He intervened so that I, and everyone else, would have to praise him! Whether the tumor was benign or not, now doesn’t matter; it’s gone. In the end, God’s purposes have won out.
So why did he heal me, while others still suffer? This is a question I have asked a few times and I still struggle with. What I’ve come to realize is that God choosing to heal me is for a purpose, and so are the present struggles that others are facing. I hope that this miracle story will encourage those struggling to not give up hope and to continue to trust that God is doing something in them, for his praise and his glory.
The quiet times I’ve enjoyed these past few weeks have been rich and encouraging. One timely reminder came this week on Tuesday when I was reading from a devotional called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.
“Thank me for the conditions that are requiring you to be still. Do not spoil these quiet hours by wishing them away, waiting impatiently to be active again. Some of the greatest works in My Kingdom have been done from sickbeds and prison cells. Instead of resenting the limitations of a weakened body, search for My way in the midst of these very circumstances. Limitations can be liberating when your strongest desire is living closer to me. Quietness and trust enhance your awareness of My Presence with you. Do not despise these simple ways of serving me. Although you feel cut off from the activity of the world, your quiet trust makes a powerful statement in spiritual realms. My Strength and Power show themselves most effective in weakness.”
I am so thankful that God so gently nudged me back to him through these circumstances and that he is so patient with me when I stumble away. It has been in these precious moments that I have had to be able to pray for others who are currently struggling with health issues. I pray that what God has done in me, will be a reminder to each of you that he already has a plan in the works for you and that you can be thankful for it and trust that what he is doing will be for the praise of his glory. May God give us all more faith to trust him in the uncertain times of our life and the boldness to share with others, the hope we have.