Monday, April 11, 2011

Learning to Trust, Part 3: In Fear

If you haven't read the introduction or the first two parts of this series, you can click on the link "Learning to Trust Series" in the Labels section of my right sidebar to read the other posts I've written.  God bless~ Rachel

“Has this mole on your arm always been so dark?”
The girl looked over at the doctor, “Umm… I suppose so.  I’ve never noticed it.”
The man’s eye flitted over to meet the gaze of the young lady’s father.
“I’m going to have to remove it… has anyone in your family had cancer?”
Cancer.  Her breath caught in her throat.  Why had that ugly word come back to haunt her?
“Yes.  My mother is a cancer survivor… and there are a couple other people in my family that have had cancer.  But… my mom didn’t have skin cancer.”
“Well, I’m not saying that you do… I just want to be careful.”  The doctor pulled out a needle and quickly slipped it into her arm to numb the area surrounding the offending mole.  “This could be a beginning sign.”
The girl sighed deep and watched as the man cut a circle into her flesh and blood collected.  The mole was removed, the gauze applied, and the arm wrapped. 
“I’ll just send it into the lab for testing and we’ll give you a call,” was all the doctor said after that.
Calls were made as the father and daughter drove home.  Her mother wept on the other end of the line.  The daughter gathered strength from beyond herself and spoke calmly in response. 
“I’ll be okay, Mom,” she said quietly.  “God knows how this will turn out.”
Brave words from a frightened girl. 

I had never had such a strange feeling wash over me like when I was told there was a possibility I had the beginnings of skin cancer.  I was a junior in highschool and it was the last thing I expected to hear.  I had just come to this skin doctor to have a surfaced blood vessel zapped back into place!  It had been zapped and my skin stung and I wanted to go home and then… he saw the mole on my upper arm.  And the whole day changed.
I had been growing in my faith and learning what it meant to be surrendering my life to God over the past year or so.  This was the first test in that time.  I could panic… or I could trust.
I was afraid, honestly.  Who wouldn’t be at least a little?  I’m not Superwoman.  And the word “cancer” strikes home for me… deeply.  But, for the first time in a long time, I realized right at the beginning that there was nothing I could do about it.  It was strange, being in a situation where I knew there was nothing I could do to change anything.  I couldn’t will away skin cancer.  I could only either allow the fear to gnaw away at me or remember that God knew what was best for me.

For the first time, I chose the latter without really thinking about it.  I was fresh from being healed of my hurt of the last couple years in moving, losing a friend, and being misunderstood by many of my peers.  I was like a soldier who had spent months in the infirmary after a hard fight and serious wound.  Now I was on the mend and ready to fight again.  Hurt was behind, though the wound still ached every once in a while.  Now I was at the risk of being attacked by fear.  After all, this new battle might be harder than the old one!  I might be wounded again!
But, by the grace of God, I chose to trust.

And I didn’t have cancer.  I was prepared to trust God if I did, but He saw fit to spare me that.

And then I was tested again.

I was at a doctor’s appointment because I had felt a strange lump in my neck.  My suspicion was right: one of my lymph nodes was strangely swollen.  Even though that wasn’t something to be very concerned about… it brought many memories to a head… a swollen lymph node… that had been what had sent my mother to the doctor only a month after my first brother was born.  And it had been cancer then.  Would it be the same for me?  I was told to wait and see if it got worse.
I can’t tell you how many times my fingers unconsciously moved to touch the strange lump on the side of my neck.  It got smaller… then it got larger again, even bigger than it was originally.  I talked to doctors again.  They said to wait a bit longer.  
Wait?!  Fear came rushing in.  Wait?!  Why should I wait when cancer could already be growing inside of my body?  My hand would touch the lump and my stomach would twist; my hand would leave the worrying spot and my fists would form.  I tried to trust, to let go…  but I wasn’t thankful for this.  I was petrified.  This was something I didn’t want!  I wasn’t even a senior in highschool yet… and this was the second time the word “cancer” had come back into my life within the last year!  I became stressed and the lump didn’t leave.  Muscles tensed as my hands clenched tight.
Then I realized what was going on, I saw my lack of faith.  I forced myself to relax… to trust… to be at peace.  I had to believe that God knew what He was doing.
And as the stressed thoughts were relaxed—as the muscles of my mind were loosened and my hands opened—the lump disappeared like it had never been there. 
Once again, I didn’t have cancer.

It wasn’t that my fears were unfounded.  Cancer scares everyone, no matter what experience they’ve had with it.  But it was what I did with my fears that displayed my trust.  Just like “courage isn’t the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear”, trust isn’t the absence of fear, but rather the confidence that Someone is so much bigger than fear. 
So, how do I apply thanks to this?  Well, this might be a bit more obvious than the other situations I have mentioned in my previous posts.
“Lord, thank you for my health!  Thank you for sparing me from a battle against cancer.  Thank you for standing with me and being so much bigger than my fears!”
But, in light of the future, I must also say, “Not as I will, but as You will.”
“Lord… if I am faced with illness in the future, please give me strength.  Please help me to thank You for whatever you bring and glorify You always.”
The future can look so strange and ominous before us sometimes… so uncertain, even risky.  But, if we’re thanking God for it already and leaving it all up to Him right now, whatever we’re already facing, then, when the trials come, we will be so much more prepared to face the ugly-beautiful blessings God has for us.

You know, I have a scar on my upper arm from having that mole removed.  It’s very hard to see… but I know where it is.  I’ve seen it shine when light hits it, glimmering only for the most perceptive eyes.  I bear a mark of God’s grace on my body, just as Christ bears the marks of my salvation on His own body.  Mine is so small though and His are so great.  Mine serves to remind me of fears of the past and the One who conquered them.  His serve to show the great price He paid so that I can be forgiven of my sins and freed from my fears.  Not just the fear of cancer or death or hurt…  but the fear of eternal damnation and separation from God.

I could write so much more about my journey to trusting the Lord… a journey that will not end till my dying day.  I know I will write more about it every so often in the future.  But, right now, I just want to end with a song and a prayer, lifting open hands to my Lord in thanks.
Forever ( The Nails in Your Hands), by Richard Cimino
The nails in Your hands,
The nails in Your feet,
They tell me how much You love me.
The thorns on Your brow,
They tell me how
You bore so much pain to know me.

And when the heavens pass away
All Your scars will still remain.
And forever they will say
Just how much You love me.

So I want to say that…

Forever my love,
Forever my heart,
Forever my life is Yours.
Forever my love,
Forever my heart,
Forever my life is Yours.
It is Yours.

“Lord, I am thankful.  I remember what You have done for me.  I thank You for the ugly-beautiful blessings: cancer, death, persecution, trials… Most of all, I thank You for Your death on my behalf.  Even if I have no other blessing than that, it is enough, Lord.  Lord, I will stumble and fall.  I will forget.  I know that.  I thank You that You are there to pick me up and remind me.  I give you the hurt of yesterday.  I give you the struggles of today.  I give you the fears of tomorrow.  My love, heart, and life are Yours.  With You as my strength, I will move ahead with confidence.  Let my life be according to Your will, with hands held open always.  I trust You, Lord.”

Thank you so much for reading this series.  I pray it was as much of a blessing to you as a reader as it was for me to write it!  May God richly bless you as you grow in your trust in Him.


KatySue Pillsbury said...

I've loved this series! You have wonderful insights and write extremly well! =)

Melanie said...

Mmm...thank you for sharing this, sweet Rachel!