Tonight I went to a Thanksgiving service at my church where testimonies of thankfulness were shared. Here's what was on my heart and what I shared:
This has been the hardest year of my adult life… and the darkest year I’ve experienced since I believed in Jesus as my Savior. It was a year ago this very week that I began to experience what would become debilitating pelvic pain that eventually led to a diagnosis of stage 4 uterine cancer. What followed has been a near yearlong journey through chemotherapy, major surgery, and more chemotherapy with radiation soon to come.
Since last Thanksgiving, I’ve felt more sick than I’ve ever felt in my life and I’ve been more exhausted than I’ve ever been in my life. I learned that my doctor wasn’t sure I’d even make it when he saw how bad my cancer was in the beginning… and to add to that, I learned that statistically I face a mere 15-20% chance of even surviving the next 5 years. Needless to say, I’ve spent this year struggling with more questions and fears than I ever imagined I would in my lifetime… and I’ve wrestled with some very deep and dark emotions.
I certainly don’t feel like being thankful this Thanksgiving. Yet I find myself unable to deny that I still have a lot to be thankful for.
- I’m thankful that my church elders have even bothered to keep me on staff through all this.
- I’m thankful that God provided the best GYN oncologist in the northeast to care for me.
- I’m thankful that God has worked through medical advances and the prayer of his people to heal my body of cancer almost completely in less than a year.
- I’m thankful that I’ve been given the opportunity to share how I've experienced the love of God with people I never would have met if I hadn’t gotten cancer.
- I’m thankful that no matter how hard it is to face each day, God always gives me just the grace and strength I need to get through it.
- I’m thankful that I can see God using this tremendously difficult time in my life to transform me into something far different than I was before.
- But most of all, I’m thankful that I have come to see and know God in ways I never could have apart from such a long and difficult trial: He has proven his faithfulness to me over and over again… even when I’m not feeling so faithful myself. He has shown me how very deep the rivers of his comfort are when I am hurting in ways that I can’t even express. He has affirmed over and over that he has a purpose in everything that I’ve faced… and that if I woke up this morning, he has a purpose for me in this day.
- Most importantly, He has proven the promises of his Word to be a strong and true foundation to cling to. Isaiah 43:2-3, for example, has meant a lot to me over the past year - "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."