I was the mother of wonderful three-year-old twin boys and a beautiful little girl. But, nearly four years after our first child, Joshua, was stillborn, I was still bitterly angry with God. Because I felt He had failed to protect me from that terrible loss, I could not trust Him to protect me from similar losses. Reading the Scriptures and honestly asking Him questions left me feeling even more abandoned, so I gave up expecting to feel His love or His presence in my life. The anger I always carried around so deep within me eventually began to break out; I started to lash out at my husband and my children, and I knew I was in need of help.
Through events only God could have arranged, I started meeting with a Godly older woman who seemed able to see right into my soul. My anger toward my family was bad enough, but this was only a symptom of the greater problem; my anger toward God was the real poison destroying my life. My friend recognized this, and she patiently began to show me the way back into fellowship with God by sharing the details of her own pain-filled life and how God had taught her to trust Him through those hard times. Yet my heart, seared and defiant, continued to resist.
Finally, one Sunday morning, the many months of loving support and encouragement from my friend and the ministry of the church broke through to me. God transformed me from a broken despairing woman into a woman who felt His presence deeply. Suddenly I knew He loved me, and never wanted to go back to my old way of living. Every day He surprised me with new revelations of His love and specific care for my family and me. I soon began to realize that He knew me even better than I knew myself.
God also patiently began teaching me to hold onto life loosely; I started to realize that my life might change at any moment, as it had the day I lost my son, and that I needed to be prepared. I began to see all of my circumstances in the context of eternity, and I knew I could count on the Lord to be with me through any hardships that might lie ahead. I had the feeling that God might be preparing me for something difficult, but I wasn't afraid because He was also teaching me that I could trust Him to give me the grace I would need when that moment came.
September 14, 1998, started out like an ordinary day for us, but it turned out to be a dramatic turning point in our lives. That was the day a pediatric oncologist told us one of our three-year-old twins, Jacob, might have cancer. I was terrified. "What will happen to Jacob if he does have cancer? Will he need chemotherapy? Will he need radiation? How sick will he get? Will he lose all his hair? How long will it take for him to get better?" The question behind the other questions, of course, was one I could hardly even contemplate: "Will Jacob get better?" The thought of an empty space at the table, of putting away his favorite things, of having only memories of him to hold onto, was more than I thought I could bear. Yet, in response to each of my questions God's gentle answer was always, "My grace is sufficient for you."
"Yes, yes," I would cry, afraid. "But what about Jacob?"
"Your times are in My hands, Michelle, past, present and future. Know that I love both you and Jacob and that I will give you the grace you will need for this moment"
As the doctor described for my husband and I the surgery needed to remove our son's cancer-ridden kidney and the subsequent tests to determine whether the cancer had spread, I thought, "How can I put my three-year-old son through the pain of surgery? What if something happens to the other kidney, then he will surely die." Again I could hear God saying, "My grace is sufficient for you for this moment, Trust Me, Michelle, trust Me in this."
Fear seized my heart again when the radiographs of Jacob's lungs indicated that the cancer in his little body might have spread. I wondered how this would affect his chances of getting better. What if they think they've cured him but his cancer returns? Each time I found my anxious thoughts running far ahead of God -into all the might-happens and what-ifs and dark and fearsome possibilities - He would bring me back to His truth. As long as I remained with God for that moment, He gave me the strength to handle whatever challenge I faced.
Our journey in this terrible land of cancer has only just begun. We are still waiting for test results to determine the extent of Jacob's cancer. We are strangers in an alien country. The language where we live includes the words "malignancy" and "terminal" and "life-threatening." We don't want to be here; we want to take our children and go elsewhere, anywhere. Our journey through grief, following Joshua's death, taught us much about God's character and His loving faithfulness, and now we know that the future, whatever it may bring, is in His hands. In this journey we are on, in this landscape filled with tubes, and monitors, and small children lying on hospital beds, we are trusting the Lord to teach us once again how to rely on Him for our future by giving us the grace we need for the moment - this moment.
Excerpted from Treasures of Faith, Living Boldly in View of God's Promises, pages 66-69. For more on living by faith in a broken world, read Treasures of Faith by Chuck and Sharon Betters, available through MARK INC Ministries (www.markinc.org) and fine books stores everywhere. Used by permission of P & R Publishing Company, copyright ©1999 by Chuck and Sharon Betters. All rights reserved. Materials are not to be distributed to other web locations for retrieval, published in other media, or mirrored at other sites without permission of P & R Publishing Company.