It is safe to say as moms our natural instinct is to protect our children from pain. We don’t want to see our children hurt and will guard them at all costs. My husband and I recently watched God free our ten-year-old son from 18 months of fear. It was a gradual process as God worked in his heart and mind. Together, we fought for our boy. We fought for his heart and his mind. And when I say fought, I mean we battled it out for him. Our knees have ached, and our hearts have broken as we have spent countless hours pleading for his victory before the Lord. It was dark for a while for our little guy, but God did it. He broke through the darkness and delivered light to our boy. I sat stunned just a few short months ago as I watched him take his little brother to the bathroom in a restaurant for me all by himself, and he beamed the whole way. He was confident and courageous. What was his fear you ask? He was afraid to leave my side fearing something was going to happen to me. In his mind, he felt that as long as he could see me, then I would be safe from harm. Sweet, precious child of mine.
As I pleaded for my son’s victory over fear, I also asked God to deliver me from mine. I watched my son struggle and it broke my heart. I saw how fear stole good things from him, like birthday parties and sleepovers, or the simple joy of running onto a baseball field without constantly looking over his shoulder. His gripping fear gave me the visual of what my fears were doing to my life. Oh how it broke my heart. How it must break the heart of my God who sent His Son to die so that I would be free. Because isn’t that what fear steals? Freedom? Fear serves to bind and chain us. It robs us of life and vitality. When fearful, we live consumed with tomorrow and all of the “what ifs” that may find us there. He didn’t come for that. He came so that we may live today and live to the absolute fullest. Thrive.
My greatest fear became my reality at the age of 37. On January 22, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Something also tells me that it will become one of my greatest gifts. Many days have been raw, but many more have been sweet. God met me on the morning of my diagnosis. He gave me laughter as I heard the words, “It’s cancer.” And He hasn’t left me for a single moment since. Days before as I walked into a diagnostic mammogram, I whispered to the Lord, “Somehow I think you are freeing me, and I really hope you are!” You see, I saw fear played out in the life of my child. It was ugly and dark. It went against everything God wants for His children. I knew that He loved me far too much to allow me to spend my days held captive to a life of what ifs. A life of believing that “cancer would be the worst thing.”
Trials are hard and painful, dark and often gut-wrenching. But God’s word tells us to count it all joy when we face trials of many kinds. Why do we fear and fight against them? Because it’s pain, and that is what we want to avoid. As moms we want to shield our children from the pain as well. We can’t. In order for me to become a reflection of Christ and shine the brightest light imaginable, I must suffer. If I want to come out as gold, then I must go through the fire. The same goes for my children. How can I pray, “Father, you cause them to shine as light in this dark world. Be their God. Show them who you are and grow their roots deep. Make them men and women who are fearless warriors for your Kingdom!” and yet desperately want to keep them from experiencing trials of their own? Because that was the root of my fear. It was never that something bad would happen to me! Rather when asked why I feared it, my answer was always, “I wouldn’t want my children to suffer.” By taking that stance, I stunt the spiritual and emotional growth of my children.
God has a work to do in my life, and He also has a work to do in the lives of my children. They must see that God is good when things are good, and He is also good when things just stink. Trials set the stage for waters to part, enemies to be defeated, seas to calm and death to be conquered. We have a God who can do more than we ask or imagine, and He often delights to do that very thing just before dawn. It’s the hard stuff that makes us better. It’s the hard stuff that allows our sphere of influence to grow. Our lanes expand and more lives are touched and changed because of who Christ is, but only if we embrace Him in the midst of it all. And that’s the point. Jesus exalted and glorified in our suffering allows the world to see Him on display. He sets the stage but stands stage right just waiting for us to cue His entrance. How is it possible? Because with our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, the Author and perfector of our faith, who endured the cross for the joy set before Him, we too can endure whatever He allows us to face. Consider Him who endured so that you do not grow weary and lose heart! (Hebrews 12) Ladies, if Jesus can endure murder on a cross, you and I can endure the trials of this world! And not just endure, but shine in the process. Even in messy, nasty tears, we can still shine when we point people to the Light. We have it within us, because greater is He who is within us than He who is in the world! (1 John 4:4) And if that wasn’t enough, He also promises that the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead is the exact same spirit living inside every one of us who believes. (Romans 8:11)
My God is a good God. He does nothing but good, therefore, I can rest assured that this cancer has come from the enemy. However, I know that my God allowed it to come to me, and if He allowed it then He has a really good reason for it. All of our suffering has purpose friends—absolute purpose. It is not by chance or without reason. He is never without a plan. This world is a broken mess, but He came for it—for all of it.
Sickness and disease.
Abuse and neglect.
Fear and anxiety.
Divorce and loneliness.
Job loss and insecurity.
He came for it.
What the devil means to use as destruction, our God promises to use for our good and His absolute, amazing glory! Could it be that He is allowing my worst fear so that He can hold me by the hand and walk me through it leading me to the other side where freedom awaits? Yeah. This girl thinks so. I’ve already experienced it. And for that I am eternally humbled and grateful.
And that sweet ten-year-old boy of mine? He hasn’t skipped a beat. His very first response to my news showed us his heart. He said, “This is a good thing Mom because now your friend won’t feel alone with her cancer.” In 18 months, my God did that work in my boy. Why did I want to shield him from it? My son was delivered from his fear, but God didn’t stop with deliverance. In allowing the “worst thing” He is giving us the “best thing.” Freedom. Count it joy, my friends! Count it absolute joy. To God be the glory, great things He has done.
*We wanted to give an update on Michele who wrote this post prior to a recent double masectomy. God allowed all of the cancer to be removed through the surgery and her lymph nodes are clear! Please pray for Michele and her family as she continues to recover.
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