Last night, (minus my hat or wig) I had the privilege of speaking along with three others at our church’s Thanksgiving service. What follows is the transcript of my portion. It was hard to whittle away at the list of all the reasons I give thanks at this point in my life. So, here goes…
Hebrews 13:15 says, “Through Him (Jesus) then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” (NASB)
Tonight I stand before you not having to sacrifice to praise God for all He has done in the recent months. However, there were moments during these months when it was a true sacrifice to praise Him.
Last week, I was walking through the neighborhood. It happened to be garbage pickup day and all my neighbors had their trashcans at the end of their driveways awaiting the garbage truck. For most of my walk I managed to stay ahead of the truck, but at some point I ended up behind the truck. So, as I pondered what I would say to you tonight, I was reminded on the back side of the garbage truck that sometimes, life stinks.
In February, I was diagnosed with stage 3, aggressive triple negative, invasive ductal breast cancer. Up until then, my life had been ahead of the garbage truck.
Rob (my husband) and I swallowed the news, met with my doctors, and shared the news and plans for treatment with our family and friends. I began the protocol for treatment: chemo first to shrink the large tumor, followed by lumpectomy (hopefully), then radiation.
My constant phrase then and throughout all of this, even today, has been, “God is faithful and I trust Him in this. He will glorify Himself through healing me.”
From the beginning, God began to point out things for which to be thankful even in the moments of tears as well as laughter. So, there are numerous things for which I give thanks. Following is a narrowed-down list:
- Our parents’ love and encouragement.
- God’s spiritual growth in Rob and me individually and as a couple right out of the gate as we learned of the cancer and began digesting the news.
- My husband’s faithfulness to God in caring for me as part of the covenant vows we made 24 years ago. (I love you, Honey.)
- Our sons’ lessons in faith in God to heal me and our sons’ ways of ministering to us through sharing music that fed my soul, coming to the cancer center to sit with us until they got kicked out for breaking the rules of no more than one visitor per patient, and other ways.
- God’s Word becoming so fresh from this different vantage point.
- The blessing of being stripped bare of having control…recognizing that I don’t.
- The blessing of being stripped of hair at Easter…the money saved on highlights and products, the time saved in my morning routine, the hats my sister knitted/crocheted for me and the ones my husband bought me; even the wig we lovingly call, “Delilah.”
- The blessing of new growth of hair coming in which I learned yesterday that on a windy, rainy day does not frizz nor blow in my face…yet.
- The brothers and sisters in Christ who committed to pray for my healing daily and who would send texts and emails with specific verses prayed at all times of day and night.
- Friends who gathered in my home and their homes to pray with me before all the chemo began and again later.
- Friends who circled together my first day of chemo to pray in the parking lot of the cancer center for me and all others in the infusion room. (Thank you all. You are so special to me.)
- Being humbled by God to recognize the value of traditional hymns and formal liturgy to minister to our souls during this time. Thank you for welcoming Rob and me back with such love and encouragement.
- The gradual diminishing of the cancerous mass I had found to the point that neither I or my doctors could feel it any more.
- The God-confidence to tell the technicians before I entered the new breast MRI machine that the pictures were going to show no cancer. Such was the case in all the thousands of images they took.
- The pathology report after the lumpectomy surgery that said the nodes and breast were cancer free.
- The doctors who confidently said, “Amy, it’s a miracle!”
- The radiation technicians who play Christian music on the radio while I’m at my daily radiation appointment, which end in December.
- God’s sameness – He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is still in the business of healing miracles. The fact that he is the God Who was, Who is, and Who is to come. He is sovereign over my past, my present, and my future.
- Finally, this opportunity to encourage you that if you are God’s, He says in His Word that He will never leave nor forsake you.
Even behind the garbage truck, He’s faithfully got you. He is aware. He has a plan for your good and His glory. As Psalm 139 says, there is nowhere you can go from His presence.
Psalm 103:1-5 says,
“Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.”
So, I say to you with thankfulness to God, I would not trade the blessings of having cancer for never having had it.
In February, I had cancer.
Today, I do not.
I am so thankful for all of God’s blessings.