Life can be like a swamp sometimes. I penned these words in my new favorite leather journal that a dear friend gave me on the day my 8 year old daughter was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, bone cancer. The same friend who brought her sweet presence to comfort my hurting heart on that day, also brought several bags of groceries in and shared with me the poem, “Footprints” by Mary Stevens.
And yes, I asked, “Why?” We had prayed for weeks that this “pathologic fracture” would be something benign. Our family, community, and church-all of us- had prayed so hard, but my little girl had cancer, and I was in complete shock! My heart was torn apart! I begged God to take it from her and give it to me, but His ways are not our ways. However, I have learned in 47 years of life on this side of Heaven that His way is always the BEST WAY!
As I wrote those words in that very special journal, we were on yet another 5 hour drive to see the man whom God had prepared to help save our daughter’s arm. The trip from Garfield, Georgia to Gainesville, Florida is a long, boring one without much scenery. Part of the trip takes us through the outskirts of the Okefenokee Swamp, and on that particular day, it really stunk; I can remember thinking as I looked at the charred pine trees from the wildfire the summer before that right now life stinks or so I thought at that moment. Looking back, I see how blessed we were. We had great doctors, nurses, and an awesome support system at home. God sent his angels to watch over us every step of the way. That doesn’t mean that I never got scared or never stumbled, but He got me through it.
“He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.”Psalm 91:11-12
Of course, it is much easier now when looking back to see all the great things that were happening through her journey to healing, but it is not always so easy in the middle of the storm. So just how do we get through the swamp, through the stinky, sticky, hard places of life? According to David Jeremiah, we find stones… the patches of dry land. We could not stay stuck. We had to keep moving forward. During this especially difficult season of my life, I honestly thought I could not put one foot in front of the other on many days, and this is when “He carried me.”
“God is ever true to His promises, and it was by Him that you were, one and all, called into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord.”1 Corinthians 1:9
During the battle we often didn’t know what the next hour would bring, but He comforted and provided every step of the way in His tender loving way. I learned that God’s promises are true. God is good; God is love; God causes all things to work together for my good according to His purpose. He will never leave me or forsake me, so I am never alone. It has certainly taken a lot of stepping stones to get us through the swamp of many trials including osteosarcoma.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”Romans 8:28
Often these stepping stones looked like a text encouraging us and letting us know that we were being prayed for or a colleague who let me know that everything in my little classroom was going well, and she “had me and my students” and would take care of what I could not physically or emotionally handle right then. Solid footing was also given to us by a community that raised money for all of our needs and many of our sweet girl’s heart’s desires to hep her cope with a life turned upside down and full of big needle sticks and lots of foreign chemicals being pumped into her little body. It looked like a faithful teacher coming to help her catch up on her school work at crazy times of the night and day because her energy ebbed and flowed at its own will. Most importantly we had prayers being lifted up to our Father in Heaven from people around the world. Our medical team was and still is the perfect match for us, prepared for us and countless others for these critical times in our lives.
“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.”Psalm 139:5
My heart hurt, y’all, watching my baby go through this, and I begged God to let it be me, but He chose her. My faith was strengthened in every way. I know that He is for me. I know that He will supply every need even when circumstances look dire. Today, our daughter is healed, and we give God all the praise, honor, and glory.
Yes, He healed her. I know that He did not have to, and I know that if He had not that He would still be my good and gracious Heavenly Father and Savior. He has not answered every prayer with the answer that I wanted. I have endured many trials like watching my parents die. One of the hardest times in our financial life was when my husband was run over and drug down the road by a drunk driver while serving and protecting our community. I also lost my best friend at the tender age of 17 to a drunk driver. Every single time, He carried me and strengthened my faith. Today I know that His word is true. He tells me to cast my anxieties upon Him, and He will give me peace, and what glorious peace it is.
“Cast all your anxitey on him because He cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7