New Year’s Musings of a Chinese Christian

Another year is ending. Around the dinner table, a friend shared he has cancer. His positive attitude of accepting whatever God has planned for Him is encouraging. He read from Psalm 90 n was reminded of God’s peace in the midst of challenges. He said if it’s his time, he is ready. It reminded me of my prayer years ago when I learned that I had cancer: Lord, if you think that your purpose for my life on earth is done, then I am at peace with that. But if there is anything else I need to do, please guide me through this journey.

Death is a morbid subject. Many do not like to think about it, talk about it. They avoid anything that looks like it n sounds like it. In the Chinese culture, four is not a good number because it sounds like death, whether in Mandarin, Cantonese or Fookienese. No matter what our attitude is, mortality is a reality. Even Christians are not exempted from cancer. What differentiates them is their attitude towards death. It is more than just passive, fatalistic acceptance. It is an acceptance in peace and being at peace, in hope… Hope to a future in God’s presence for eternity.

Today is the last day of the year. No one really knows for sure if it will be his last. The Bible teaches us that there are three things that last: faith, hope n love. (1 Corinthians 13) God’s children live each day in faith that God loves them n He knows best. They live with hope that there is life beyond mortality. They live in love just as God loves them and calls them to love. As we usher in the new year, let us face each day with renewed faith, encouraging hope n enduring love that only our Creator gives. Happy new year!

These were my thoughts written on Chinese New year’s eve in 2016.. about 3 months before my mom passed away and 4 months before my dad followed her. Today, my mom and dad are both in the eternal presence of God.  Today, that friend is still undergoing treatment for his cancer. Today, I have other friends going through similar journeys. Yesterday was Chinese New Year. It was my first time to celebrate Chinese New Year at a funeral. I attended the interment of a 93 year old family friend – a very close friend of my father. He was our family doctor when my sister and i were young. He was bedridden for the past 8 years. As I attended the farewell service of this dear uncle, I am both sad and glad. I am sad for his wife who is grieving and missing a lifelong friend and companion. I am reminded of man’s fragile mortality. I am also glad that he is now enjoying eternal bliss in the presence of his Creator – free from pain, no more tears and no more night.

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Moses prayed: Teach us, Lord to number our days that we gain a heart of wisdom. This prayer reminds us to make each day count. Numbering our days is to put a significant value to each moment of each day. As children of God, we need to savour each minute God gives us with a thankful attitude, a contented heart and a joyful disposition in this broken world. We need to be joyful in hope, patient in tribulation and persistent in prayer.

Let these values guide us in the coming days of the new year… faith, hope, love, joy, patience and wisdom to live life to the fullest.. what God intends for all his creatures.

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Waiting in the Shadows

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When Mama passed away, I wrote in her eulogy: There is “a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die. . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:1–2, 4). We comfort those who are mourning, and we rejoice with those who are rejoicing. We laugh and weep together because there is a time for everything, and everything in its time.

God has made everything beautiful in its time—the time to do whatever needs to be done, whatever is fitting.

But God has also set eternity in our hearts—a sense of timelessness. We can never understand what God has done since the beginning of time, nor will we ever imagine what God will do till the end of time. And so even as we live in time, we wait with hope for the end of time. Yet waiting for the fulfillment of this promise is difficult, especially if we do not know how long we have to wait.

Paul encouraged the Romans to be joyful, patient, and faithful. Joy and affliction are paradoxical realities. It is not easy to be joyful in affliction. But when there is hope, joy is possible. Hopeful joy helps me to be patient in suffering. I wait in joyful expectancy that the suffering will end. Days will be better.

This joyful hope sustains my prayer just as much as hopeful joy keeps me praying. When I expect God to do good things for me, I wait patiently with joy, even amidst sufferings. This is not possible by my own strength, but only by persistently keeping in touch with the One who is faithful, who is my source of joy and hope.

I thank God for the lessons I learned through my parents’ sufferings, in sickness, and in death. In the days and weeks that followed my mom’s passing, I kept visiting my father, who was so frail, weak, sad, and sick. Many times I prayed, “Lord, have mercy, take Papa quickly so he will not suffer so much.” But God’s ways are not our ways, and over time, I began to pray, “Lord, have mercy, Thy will be done.”

During Papa’s sickness, my sister and I learned how to help one another, forgive one another, pray more and depend on God more. We each discovered new meanings in Jesus’ prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread.”

I learned that the greater the pain, the more I would learn about humility, patience, courage, trust and dependence on God. I practiced how to be strong, one step at a time, moment by moment, day by day as I sought to depend on God’s grace and call on his mercy.

One day, my sister called me and said: Papa is so different today. How?

“He ate ice cream, asked for water, asked to go to the toilet because he didn’t want to pee in the diaper, and he also asked for bread,” she told me. “He also asked,  How old is your elder sister?, and I said, ‘She is 54 years old.’ And he smiled.”

“He’s asked me that before,” I told her. “Biya, How old are you?

During these times, my sister and I were ‘mababaw ang kaligayahan’ (shallow happiness), because we were easily pleased by the simple pleasures in life.

Because he could not see, each time I visited him, I would say, Pa, I’m Biya.” Happily, he replied:You, Biya?”

We learned to find joy in each one of papa’s talkative or alert moments, to delight in his memories, to record the words he spoke, or, later, the way he opened his mouth to utter words his voice could not sound. We learned to be grateful for his good appetite (for ice cream, soup, and siopao (pork buns) —which we did not give him because we worried he might choke). We learned not to take for granted his toothless smile in unexpected moments, his nod or his furrowed eyebrow to acknowledge our presence when he could not speak. We learned to praise God for sunshine on dialysis days, for kind nurses or hospital staff, for light traffic along the way, for arriving safely at his destination. We even praised God for solid poops.

I paid attention to the way God faithfully provided such good caregivers for my father. I remember with gratitude when a friend who visited me during my sickness ministered to my father when he was in need of a catheter not available in the hospital he’s staying. She helped us source the catheter.

The fire of our father’s suffering—his peg installation, pneumonia, sepsis, bed sores, colon obstruction, stent insertion, and on-going dialysis—enabled our family to experience greater heights of joy together. After watching him endure excruciating pain, we rejoiced when he received relief. Because of our journey through the long dark tunnel of sickness and death, we began to watch hopefully for each momentary glimmer of light. These flashes of light and hope gave us courage to face the road still ahead of us.

In the last few months of Papa’s sickness, whenever Marian and I asked if he was in pain, he always answered in the negative. Only once did he admit to his caregiver that he was in pain. Even so, we always knew it was painful for him – from his facial expressions: when he winced, jerked his arm or hand, or covered where it hurt. His courage and endurance of pain encourage us to be brave.

With the psalmist, we began to delight ourselves in the Lord, trusting him to give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). For the God of yesterday’s pain is with us today and forever, and His grace and mercy will lead us through each step of our journey.

Lord, help me to delight in you. Shape my desires to your desires so that I can receive whatever you give with gratitude, trusting in your love and goodness. Enable me to be joyful, hopeful and faithful even as I wait in the shadows. Amen.

Groaning in the Shadows

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.                           –Romans 8:22–28

I cry easily. I cry when I watch dramas on TV or in movie houses. I cry when I see people cry. In Tagalog, we call it ‘mababaw ang luha’ (shallow tears that easily overflow).

On the day of my mother’s funeral, I remember crying, “Mama… Mama…” as I stood beside her coffin. I didn’t care that my cries were loud and long, but then I had to stop crying, because it was time for the cremation to begin.

After my mom died, I did not have much time to cry, because I was too anxious for my father, who was ninety-two, was blind on one eye and almost blind on the other. He did not have an appetite. It was a constant struggle of anxiety and stress to feed him.

Because I did not know how to deal with my grief, I had a hard time comforting my father. As I sat by his sick bed, I often did not know how to pray. So I would pray, “Lord, have mercy.” (wishing for God to take him so his suffering would end.)

Although I’m thankful that Mama is now in heaven, where there is no pain, sorrow, or sickness, I could not pray this thought with my father. I thought – how good this was for mom, but how hard it was for dad. Whenever I prayed with him, I felt even more grieved when I opened my eyes and saw tears in my father’s eyes. I thought my prayers had made him cry, and so I prayed silently, “Lord, please take him to eternal rest, to be with Mama, where there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more tears.”

I tried talking with him about the past, about details from his younger days. In our talk, I could not speak much of my mom or their times together. I worried these memories would make my father sad. And so I grieved in silence with him, crying silently, grateful that he could not see my tears.

On the last day that I visited Papa at home, I sat in Mama’s favorite chair and cried like a baby. I cried, “Mama… Papa…” over and over again. The nurse was in the next room with Papa, who was asleep. As I stood by his bedside, he spoke his last word to me, “Mama…,” but he could not continue because he was having a hard time breathing. “Mama is resting,” I told him.

After my father died, I stood with my daughter, Hannah, by his body. As the mortician combed his hair and brushed his coat, I touched his cold hands and cried, “Papa… Papa..” I had to hold back my crying because it was time for him to be transferred to the coffin.

At the funeral, as I took one last look at Papa, I cried again, “Papa… Papa…” My whole body shook as tears ran down my face. But then I had to stop crying because it was time to close the coffin.

One morning, as I reviewed the eulogy I had written for Papa, tears flowed again. My husband woke and heard my sniffles. “Are you crying?” he asked. I gave a muffled answer and wiped away the tears.

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I used to think I was ‘mababaw luha’ because I was emotionally weak and full of self-pity. So I learned to be strong and held back my tears.

I remember the times of my deep depression when I could not cry at all. It was horrible. I am reminded that tears are a blessing.

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In the Gospel of John, Scripture says: Jesus wept (John 11:35). Jesus cried in public with Mary. Jesus grieved with Mary for the loss of her brother and his friend, Lazarus. Though Jesus wept in solitude in the garden of Gethsemane, he also wept in the crowd alongside Mary. His last cry on the cross that God, his father had forsaken him is the ultimate example of the greatest grief possible.

When I feel hurt or sad, crying relieves me. Once, after my husband and I had a big argument, I went to see the movie Phantom of the Opera, and after immersing myself in the story and crying through the movie, I went home feeling much better.

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Now I cry often both in joy and in grief. Tears fill my eyes as I remember the past with gratitude—not regrets, but fond memories. Tears clear my eyes so I can live the present with faith. Tears rejuvenate my heart so I can receive the future with hope, trusting that in all things, both good and bad, God is working for my good. He makes us right with him so that in all seasons, we will reflect his glory.

My journey through the darkness reminds me of the paradoxes of God, who gives joy in times of grief and enables me to smile even as he allows me to cry. In the despair of death, he teaches me the hope of new life. As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And one day, I shall surely dwell in the house of the Lord forever, where I shall see Papa and Mama again.

Until my last breath, when God will wipe every tear from my eyes, I know my journey with tears will continue. On that day, “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

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Lord, help me remember that you have called me to become a mirror of your glory. Help me to glorify you by praising you for all things, even in dark times. Help me to cling to you and to trust in your goodness and love as I seek to live in obedience to your will. Amen.

Journey with the big C: Growing in Grace

 

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One dinnertime, shortly after my cancer diagnosis, when all my children were gathered around the table, I saw the older ones put food on my youngest daughter’s plate. I was greatly comforted to know that Mimi, who was just seven, would be cared for by her achis (older sisters). In that moment, God let me see that whatever happened, my children would take care of one another. His grace would be sufficient. All things would work together for the good.

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“Don’t waste your cancer,” John Piper wrote on the eve of his cancer surgery. By living well with cancer rather than dying from cancer, Piper believes that Christians with cancer can glorify God.

Certainly, no one would choose cancer! But during radiation, I experienced the precious warmth of God’s great love for me and the embrace of his grace and mercy more than at any other time of my life. When I felt physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually exhausted, frustrated, or depressed, God was my constant companion. As I walked through the valley of the shadow of death, he joined me and walked with me.

Looking back, there are many things in my life that I would not have chosen for myself, but these circumstances always made me grow, leading me to deeper knowledge of God and a fuller experience of God’s love.

When I felt weary, tired, worn-out, and wanted to give up, God said, “Run to me.” When the burden was heavy, and I felt weighed down with anger, sadness, worthlessness, and self-pity, God said, Come to me. You are my beloved. I am with you always. I love you. I forgive you. I treasure you. You are precious to me. I put you here for a purpose. I will enable you to accomplish the purpose. People will glorify me because of you. Stop struggling. Come to Me, and I will give you rest—from working to please people, from struggling against anger and anxiety, from striving to be right, from seeking after affirmation (drawn from Matthew 11:28–31).

For it is cumbersome to lug around heavy baggages! We will be hindered from moving on. This is why seasoned travellers only pack essentials. They know exactly what they need—and also what they don’t need.

Hebrews 12 teaches us this same principle for our spiritual journeys:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (vv. 1–3).

Hebrews 11 describes this great cloud of witnesses as great men and women who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground (vv. 33–38).

These people threw off everything that hindered them from obeying God. They persevered in their goals, hanging on to the promises of God.

Today, Christians are called to the same path. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus, the example of true obedience to God, the Father. Jesus endured the shame and suffering on the cross to fulfill God’s salvation plan for mankind. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God in heaven. When we fix our eyes on Jesus and remember how he suffered and persevered to the end, God promises that we will not grow weary. We will not give up. Each one of us has been called to glorify God.

In the Old Testament, prophets were called to make known the Sovereign God to obstinate people who would not listen. Most of the prophets were exiled—Jonah swallowed by a big fish, Daniel thrown in lion’s den, Jeremiah thrown in the pit to starve, Ezekiel told his wife would die, Hosea told to marry a prostitute! None of them volunteered to be God’s prophet, but God called, and they obeyed.

Jesus said to his disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Each problem we experience, each grief we bear, every frustration and disappointment in our lives is an opportunity for us to experience God. In sorrow, he gives comfort. In despair, he gives hope. With unlovable people, he enables me to love. For each dilemma, he gives wisdom. In trouble, he gives peace.

When we face difficulties, God is glorified—not because the problem goes away, but when we live out of God’s amazing grace, when we become joyful in spite of our circumstances, when we give thanks in everything.

It is easy to be happy when life is rosy, because we don’t need God and can manage on our own. But when there is financial trouble, when relationships are broken, when sickness comes knocking, when our children do not get healed from a terminal disease, when our families are not spared from the tragedies of fire, earthquake, and other natural calamities, we can shine amidst the darkness as we stand firm in faith, hope, and love, trusting that the God who loves each one of us will lead us through the ups and downs of life.

Just as it takes hot water to bring out the taste in teabags, our lives will have more impact and show forth greater glory when we hang onto God in the midst of difficulties.

We all have a “cancer” in life, something “toxic” in Pinoy culture. But we can all invite God to transform what is malignant into something benign—or even good.

For God’s grace is sufficient. He sees us through the long dark tunnel. With each difficult challenge, he enables us to overcome by nourishing us with his Word. As we read his promises, trust in his word, and obey him, we will experience how “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Dear Jesus, I come to you with my heavy load. Help me take on your easy yoke and know your rest. I have trouble in the world. Help me take heart and know your peace. Amen.

 

Missing my dad

Last night, I attended the 90th birthday party of a friend’s dad. It was good to rejoice with those who rejoice. I am happy for my friend and his family. Longevity with good health is indeed a gift from the Lord.

I was reminded of my father. He would have turned 94 this month. I miss him so. Yesterday I received an email from his goddaughter sharing her memories of my father. I asked her permission to share it with my friends. So here it is:

Dear Marlene,
I’m sorry for the delay in sharing how your dad had touched my life. I thank God for the special opportunity to be one of your dad’s goddaughters. How time flies! I pray that God will allow me to recall memories of my relationship with your father.

You are so privileged to have a wonderful father. Not only does he fear God and honor his God, he was also a warm and sociable person.

When your dad first came to our house, there was no formal introduction from my dad that your father will be my que pe (godfather in Hokkien). During my growing up years, it’s only during Christmas that I can meet him. He was very loyal and consistent each December to visit and give me gifts. My siblings also have their own godparents, but it was only your dad who really showed concern and remembers me every Christmas. I’m really blessed and thankful for his kindness.

When I had my clinic, he was one of those early patients who came to support me by being my patient. He was very consistent in coming for dental check-up twice a year. He was very cooperative every time I advised about his dental health. He also introduced his friends and business and people close to him to come to my clinic for dental check-up.

I remember him to be a kind and thoughtful person. When I reach the so-called marriageable age, he showed concern by asking how I am and if I have found my lifetime partner. He knows the qualifications that I was looking for. When I got married finally, he was always asking about my family. Although, my marriage was short-lived due to sudden death of my husband, he still continued to ask about my welfare.

The things that I admire him for was his simple living, He only wore T-shirt and rubber shoes every day. He did a lot of walking. He also found time to play tennis which kept him fit until his old age. Honestly, my own father did not talk or converse too much with us about life nor share his thoughts. Your dad sort of cover up my dad’s shortcoming. As women, we like to talk and share our emotions. If I could grade your father as a godfather, I would give him 99%.

Since we go to different churches, it was only the last day of the memorial service that i knew about the passing of your dad. I almost was not able to pay my last respect. Thank you Marlene and Marian for sharing your dad’s love with me. I miss him indeed.

My life has been full of challenges ever since young until today. As you know, I’m still taking care of my mother-in-law who will turn 94 this May and my sister with Alzheimer’s. I also have a special son. I don’t want to dwell on my predicament because I am not the one in control. I’m still learning to let go and let God do His will and plan for my life. God’s grace is sufficient. To Him be the glory!

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I was around 3-4 years old in this picture with my parents.

Here are my thoughts about grief and missing my parents:

There is never really an end to missing one’s parents or lost loved ones for that matter. You never know when some incidents or words or pictures will bring your loved ones to mind. Tears well up at unexpected places and time when I remember my dad and mom.

God comforts us in our grief at the most timely moment in the most surprising ways. He sends friends and strangers to accompany me in my grief. I have friends (whom I didn’t know or never met) of my mom and dad who told me how they knew them or how they influenced or made a mark in their lives.
I often feel their presence as I continue to be connected to their friends – my teachers, god parents and adopted uncles and aunts. Last Oct 8, we had a thanksgiving service in memory of my parents. I am thankful and greatly encouraged when these friends came to attend the service without any hesitation. They shared their memories and gifted us with their presence in word and deed.

Although no amount of thinking and missing will bring them physically back to me, I keep their memories alive by remembering the good old times, the lessons I learned from them. Their legacies live on in me as I continue to live the values they exemplified in our home and instilled in me. I share their stories so that man will be blessed and our God be praised.

May you find comfort in your grief journey as well.

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My Journey with the Big C – Growing in Faith

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When my mammography results showed suspicious cancer cells, my doctor was quite positive and encouraged me, saying, “Everything’s going to be fine. Nothing to worry about.”

When the biopsy results came back, his words taught me a lesson. For while it is good to look forward in hope, it is practical to accept what is with faith. The dual lens of faith is to take both the good and the bad from the hand of God.

For faith is not about who I am, but who God is—full of grace and mercy. It is not about me worrying less and trusting God more, but about experiencing and knowing God’s character more in the challenges of life. “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).

A friend used to encourage me that living life is putting one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. The Israelites had to step onto the Red Sea after the water parted. Then they had to step into the waters of the Jordan before the waters parted. As children of God, we need to step out in faith because we know that God is leading us—in fire by night and in cloud by day.

As I came to know God more through my experience with cancer, I was able to tell others who were sick and suffering about God’s amazing grace and faithfulness to me. Thus suffering opened the door for me to learn to love God and my neighbor more.

Friends with cancer, or those with loved ones fighting cancer, began to come to me with questions about treatment and which doctors to consult. I prayed for these friends, just as many prayer warriors prayed for me.

From the shy child that I used to be, I found courage to ask a young woman at the cancer center with a big tumor on her forehead if I could pray with her. Without a second thought, she said, “Yes.” I learned this practice from a cancer survivor friend of a friend. He said that each time he went for his chemotherapy, he asked a fellow patient if he would like to pray with him. In his entire treatment journey, nobody ever said “no.”

Like Paul, I knew that through my journey with cancer, I could share in the gospel’s blessings: “to the weak I became weak. . . that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22).

In each incident of suffering that I experienced, I have become bolder to share the good news to the people around me I have relationship with – my therapist, caregivers and even my masseuse. As they provide their services to me, I use the time to ask them about their lives, family, struggles, and joys. As I listen, I share the good news God has for them.

For all who love God are called to do his good purpose on earth, and that purpose is to make him known to all people. Through us, others will see and experience the presence, peace, provision, guidance, grace, and great mercy of our God.

Dear Lord, thank you for your presence in my sufferings. May I learn to trust you more because you are trustworthy. Let me be a channel of your blessings as I grow in faith and share my faith with those who are suffering. Amen.

My journey with the big C – Part 1

Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:17–18

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In 2009, when I was forty-seven, I was diagnosed with Stage O, ductal carcinoma in situ. My journey with cancer is a milestone in my life on the journey with the God of grace. My treatment included a lumpectomy to remove a portion of my left breast, as well as thirty-four sessions of radiation therapy, and cancer maintenance medications that I continued to take (with all their side-effects and possible consequences) for seven years.

When I began going through radiation treatment, God’s Word nourished and sustained me. As I read God’s word each day, I experienced his presence and power strengthening me, and I rejoiced in his amazing grace. My prayer was, Lord, if you think my life has achieved the purpose you planned for me, then I am at peace with that. But if my mission is not yet complete, then show the way that I will continue to live according to your purpose. In the meantime, I want to make my life useful for your glory—to help my neighbors go through their challenges and any people you bring to me.”

All through my journey with cancer, I felt God’s warm embrace around me—a comfort beyond words and an immovable standing stone. As I got to know God more deeply by talking to him, listening to him, and discovering his character through the Bible, I experienced his peace beyond understanding and felt his assurance that I could live each day in joy and gratitude.

Psalm 1 says that blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord and who meditates on his law day and night. And the promise is that he will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he will prosper.

Bearing fruit in season does not mean that my life will always be smooth and rosy, but that I can persevere and stand firm in God’s promises that all things—the good and the bad—will work for my good, because he loves me and is calling me according to his purpose.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your word and promise that in all things—even in suffering—you are calling me for your purpose. Help me to delight in your word and meditate on it so that I will bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Amen.