Apparently, I can talk a good talk...
Can't we all? I just had a friend tell me that she admires the strength with which I'm facing this whole situation I've found myself in. Me, strong? I don't feel strong... and most of all not this week!
The days following treatment are difficult for me. It's just a matter of bearing down and getting through the symptoms and side effects that come with the cocktail of medicines that were just pumped into my body. The problem is, it's not just difficult physically. The days following treatment are also the hardest emotionally. They're the days when I inevitably wake up praying, "Why do I have to have cancer? I don't want this. I'm ready for my miracle healing now, thank you!"
On top of that, this past week I was really bummed to realize that Easter would come the weekend immediately following my second treatment. Easter is my favorite holiday. I appreciate the solemn reflection of Good Friday and I so love the beautiful reminders of the risen Savior embedded in our Sunday worship. Yet, this year with Easter coming right on the heels of a treatment for me, I wasn't sure I'd even be able to make it to church for my favorite holiday!
Well, I made it... but it was emotional to say the least. I'm glad I was there, though. I was reminded of something I needed to hear. On Friday night, I was reminded of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. The night he was to be arrested, the night before his crucifixion, he went to the solitude of Gethsemane to talk to his heavenly father. He doesn't say much, but what he did say speaks volumes. Jesus tells his disciples that his "soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death" (Matt. 26:38). Then he prays a simple prayer - just two sentences... "My father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Matt. 26:39).
I am utterly overwhelmed by this scene. Here is Jesus, the God-Man, facing the darkest hour of his humanity. He's overwhelmed with sorrow... yet he doesn't run away; he doesn't complain; he doesn't whine; he doesn't make excuses or try to come up with alternative plans. He simply prays in bold honesty, "Father, I don't want this. Can't you take it away or change it? No? Well then, may your will be done... not mine."
There are things in each of our lives that we wish we could just bypass. No one wants to go through difficulty and heartbreak. No one gets excited over suffering. I certainly wish I didn't have cancer. Yet, I am so thankful that God gives us a glimpse into Jesus' dark hour... because in that small glimpse, I can find peace in the midst of my dark post-treatment hours.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that "we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin" (4:15). Jesus gets the pain in our lives. He gets it when we feel like we can't handle the struggle anymore. He gets it when we want to give up... or at least see what's behind door number three!
I love what Jesus did with his dark hour. Did you catch it? It all lies in one tiny, but profound sentence... "Yet, not as I will, but as you will." They're ten little words that change the trajectory of my heart. Jesus faced a trial greater than anything any of us could ever face... and he submitted to God's plan. He dreaded what was ahead, yet he was perfectly obedient to his father's will.
Considering how I felt all this past week, I was having a hard time with that... until Sunday morning, that is. On Sunday morning, I was reminded of the end of the story. On Sunday morning, I was reminded that God had a far greater plan for Jesus' darkest hour. On Friday, all seemed lost when Jesus died. Yet on Sunday, all victory was won when he conquered the grave and rose again!
"When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.' 'Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?'" ~ 1 Corinthians 15:54-55
I found myself sitting in church on Sunday morning in tears as I was reminded that no matter how tough the days of this life may become, I have victory in Christ. No matter how bad I feel, no matter what may happen in the future, even death does not have victory over me because my life is hidden in my risen Savior.
Rest assured, God has a greater plan and purpose for even the darkest hours of our lives. So I ask... Where, O cancer, is your victory? Where, O cancer, is your sting? It may seem as if it has overcome me, especially right after treatment, but my victory was won long ago in a garden called Gethsemane and on a hill called Golgotha.
With that renewed perspective, the real question then becomes what will my prayer be as I live out the rest of my days here on this earth? My hope is to imitate my Savior and pray, "Yet not as I will, but as you will."
It is in that simple prayer that victory is won over even the darkest hours of our lives!