Nearly twenty-five years ago, my mom “lost” her battle with cancer. While I know that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8), and He works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28), I remember that day with raw emotions. I also know that our loss is her gain, for she gained so much that day 25 years ago. Yes, she left behind her husband and her girls, her family and her friends, her home and her life, but she gained peace and healing, freedom from sin and ultimately freedom to worship her Jesus, right there at his feet, the one who created her and loved her from the beginning (Psalm 139:13-15)!
Almost two weeks ago, I learned that my sister is fighting this same battle, and her news prompted this open letter to cancer. It’s raw and probably not my normal writing, but it’s how I was feeling late that night. I’m sharing with you because again, life’s not all fun and roses; in fact, it rarely is. It’s hard. Crazy hard. But I want to share with you my struggle to encourage you and let you know that we are just like you…barely making it lots of days. This is real life.
You’ve been a part of my life for a long, long time. If I remember correctly, you were lurking nearby when I was just a small girl, perhaps even younger. The first time I heard your name was when you wrecked our family by slowly taking over Aunt Julie. She was so young and beautiful. You like the young ones, don’t you? Who am I kidding? You have no preference.
After you did all you could do with her, you moved on to Mama. She was even younger and had two small girls. You really are despicable. She fought a good fight…pushed you back in your corner, where you stayed for a time, all the while gaining strength, waiting for the right moment to overtake her. Just so you know, she didn’t give in to you. She waited until her Savior called her home, but he waited to do that until she knew her little girls would be all right without her.
You suck; you know that? Because you didn’t stop there. You moved on to Uncle Robert. What did you want with him anyway? He was a single man, one who dedicated his life to his work, his farm, and watching over his aging mother. If men could be truly good, he was good man. I watched how you wrecked him, too. He was strong, though, and actually gave you the upper hand because he didn’t want to risk how awful his quality of life could be if he underwent treatment. He saw how much damage those could do in his two sisters.
You’d think you’d have had enough by then. But you didn’t. Granted, you gave us a break of several years–how kind. The fourth target was another aunt. Praise be to God, HE put his foot down! He didn’t let you have her, but that’s not to say you didn’t have your fun and take a toll on her body and her spirit and her family. Deplorable.
Seriously, again? You strike again in my little sister! My little sister who is a wife and mother of four little kids. How wonderfully clever of you. You beat my mama down to nothing, drug us all through a hell of sorts, and now show your ugly face again? You really do suck. And I’d not be exaggerating one bit to say you are the biggest bully–ever! You go around in your quiet little way and strike when unsuspected. You delight in misery and pain and heartache.
But let me tell you something…
We are not alone. You may be winning this battle…your score card may say you are ahead, but let me assure you, we are NOT alone.
You can play your little game of fear, but we know the Overcomer.
That pain game…we know the Healer.
Those feelings of being alone…we know Immanuel, God with us.
Your friend death you bring with you…we know the Alpha and Omega, Eternal God.
You can bring your best game, but in the end, we know El Shaddia, Psalm 91:1 (The All Sufficient One) and El Elyon, Genesis 14:19-20 (The Most High God). This same God; He is our Shield, our Shepard, our Deliverer. In Him, we can hide our face from your crap because he is our Hiding Place, Pslam 32:7. And to top it all off, he is Faithful and True. What he says he will do, he does. And while he sometimes lets you “win,” He always has His way.
See, even in your crafty existence, He knows. He sees every move you make, every heart you crush, every body you overtake, and He can stop you. For those He calls his own, you only get them for a brief time because in the end, you have to hand them over. What’s delightfully ironic is that those who are called His get a new body anyway, so who cares if you trash this one. They get to be with Him, their Creator, forever, clean and whole and free.
Therefore, we refuse to be overcome or defeated by you. You may be stronger, but we will endure until the end because our Deliverer is coming. I assert right now that I will no longer allow you to cause me to live in fear. Fear for myself or my family. I’m trusting the God who is all those things I mentioned and infinitely more. He has a plan that’s going to rock you because what’s funny is that you get to play a part in that plan and see just how good He is.
Genesis 50:20 says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Oh yes, Cancer, you play your little game, but in the end, it’s all good.
Very Thoughtfully Yours,
In honor of my little sister and my Aunt Annie.
In loving memory of my mama, Nancy, my Aunt Julie, and my Uncle Robert.