It was near this time in January of 2012, that I underwent a bilateral (double) mastectomy and began my breast cancer journey. I will never forget the minute, hour, and day of my diagnosis. In one single moment my entire life came crashing down. Every hope or dream that I set my heart on was terminated and then suddenly time stood completely still. No forward motion and no backward motion. Just me in timeless space asking God “Is this all you had planned for me?”
My prayer changed from a list of wants and needs to a more direct and confrontational conversation with my God. In sheer fear, I hit my knees and asked God to stand present with me as we examined my life together. Encouragement came as promised, in His Word. Deuteronomy 31:8
“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”(NAS)
I was convinced that He was with me. I anchored my hope in this scripture. Girded up, I began to ask myself some challenging questions: What were my priorities? What were the things I pursued? What had I done with my time, my love and my belongings? Did the people in my life know that I loved them? Through it all, had I managed to stay faithful to my God?
My breast cancer fight first began with my search for hope. That must be why HOPE, illustrated by a pink ribbon, is the universal symbol for breast cancer. For me as a Christian, I wasn’t hoping in a cure so much. I was hoping in something much more immediate. I was hoping that the Lord would be with me through the surgery, the treatment, the hair loss, the financial devastation and even the final days of life, if it came to that.
My cancer journey is what I thought about when I recently re- read the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. What did they hope in when they refused to bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden image; the very image that the king created to worship his pagan god? These three faithful men knew that the consequences of not obeying this earthly king’s command would cause them to be thrown in a fiery furnace.
As they stood at the door of that furnace, what were they hoping in? They were bound with clothes and all! The men ordered to throw them in the fire were burned to death just standing near their death chamber. Although we don’t know their thoughts, I can only imagine standing at the mouth of the furnace with them. They couldn’t have thought they would survive it. Maybe they were examining their faithfulness to their God? If they were, they must have had peace knowing that this was all happening because of their faithfulness to not worship a false god.
King Nebuchadnezzar had just arrogantly accused their God of not being able to deliver them from his hands of wrath. Should I say mere mortal hands? Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did not lose their hope, but responded, (paraphrasing) even if they were not rescued from this furnace, that it would be known that they would not serve any other god but their own God. Wow, such faith!
Drum roll please; the glorious part of the story is when Jesus stood with them cocooning them in safety during this death defying experience. Everyone saw, even King Nebuchadnezzar, who by the way, believed in the only one true God through this experience. What a great lasting testimony about the power, strength and love of our God. A testimony experienced because of the faithfulness of three men. For Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, it was their hope that made it possible. It was a win-win for God either way!
This is the same hope that I, a cancer survivor have come to know well. It’s a win-win for God either way. If he rescues me from cancer I will glorify God. If He doesn’t, let it be known that I will not serve any other god.
Even if I battle cancer…. I will not give up hope.
Sheri Page has been married to her husband for 10 years and cherishes their blended family of 6 adult children and 9 grandchildren. She has worked in and alongside ministries for over 30 years. She has served many roles with in the walls of a church including, a Women’s Ministry director and assistant to a Care Pastor where she served people who were walking through Baptism, Celebrate Recovery, Divorce Care and benevolence. Sheri loves to share her curiosity and unique understanding of life with Jesus by her side. She is a 5 year breast cancer survivor and considers that experience to be the one of the greatest gifts God has given her. More writings from Sheri can be found on her blog: https://thelordsdwellingplace.com/