This was the story I was telling you of in the It is Well Post from earlier this week.
I can remember the sound of the phone ringing, it was 6:55am; never a good time to get a phone call. I thought to myself, you better be dead or dying. I answered the phone groggily, to only be greeted by the sing song voice of a doctor who had been given the task of calling me to tell that my labs were abnormal, that they had found something that was of much concern and in the next breath she shares that 3 out of 10 people end up with a cancer diagnosis. Letting me know next that they had made me an oncology appointment and then in short order, she hung up the phone. I felt shell-shocked but not for any amount of time that could be measured by a watch or clock, as I can tell you He swooped in and gathered me into a place where I could see nothing but Him. The previous year had been full of His presence and cultivating. And in that moment I felt it almost wash over me like a storm of refreshing, as He reminded me that I had seen Him on more than one occasion in the months prior. That he had gifted me with sight of His hand moving in not only my life, but in those around me. And He was gifting me still, with a remembrance that allowed me to enter into the coming six weeks with hope not fear, peace not anxiousness, love not abandonment, gratefulness not sorrow. He had allowed and used this time to not only pull me closer to Him but to break old patterns of relating, pointing out many areas of distrust and unbelief. Trust and patience were major themes and His goodness was the fuel.
I had to wait 6 weeks for that oncology appointment, it would prove to be the longest six weeks of my life. I found myself singing one day to a new rendition of the song, It Is Well. As I was singing I felt warm tears stream down my face as I believed each word. The tears came from a place of great humbleness as I knew once again, I had been delivered into the lap of mercy to hold me. The words struck me one by one as I knew: It Was Well. The sorrow was rolling in like a sea billow yet we remained. It did not make sense for us to be at peace from the outside, I believe some thought we would crumble and at times we did. It would have been reasonable for our faith to be shaken, our patience tried and our hearts exhausted. We experienced loss and defeat, helplessness and wonder, bewilderment; the heat of fire and the weight of death. But almost simultaneously, as if it were the next thought, God our Father scooped us up into His arms and reminded us that we weren't only seen but known, that we weren’t only desired but sought after. And in what surely could have been marked as one of the single darkest moments of my life, He wooed me into not only a reminder of my belief but into a knowledge of who He truly is.
When people asked me what to pray for us, or how to support us I would just ask that they pray that I wouldn’t lose sight of His face. That I would remain tethered and aware of the fact that I was held. When I was alongside others it was easy to be calm but when I would enter into any time alone: in the car, in the shower, in the house after the kids left for school, I would begin to sing and I would weep. Because I could almost feel the fear threatening to take over. It is not a welcome thing, cancer. I want nothing more than to live out the rest of my days with my babies, watching them grow. I want nothing more than to grow old with my man, getting real wrinkly and being able to recount all that He has done and continues to do. But I had reached a place in my weeping where my words reflected praise instead of the longing to be spared. I have heard people speak of this before. I have made the mistake of believing it was because they were ready to leave this earth, to leave the pain, to be through. This may still be true for some. I had reached the place where I didn’t think of dying or living, rather, just being in complete awe of the closeness He was letting me experience and finding peace in what He had planned for me next, whether it be in the next year or in 50 years.
I went to that appointment as scheduled. I listened to a different doctor inform me that it wasn’t cancer for now. That there is a possibility that my reality in that would change but we wouldn’t know until it did. At first glance, this would seem quite defeating. I have heard it described as a dark cloud, a snake in the grass and the list goes on and on. And it does have the potential to be such things. But what I learned through this time and what I will cling to when I feel the cloud approaching, is that our ability to experience immense joy in the midst of immense sorrow is the gift of the Lord through His son. Because even though those sea billows roll, so does the blessed assurance of what we have been promised, remain. It doesn’t mean the sorrow will disappear here but it will in what is to come. And in that, It is well with my soul.
It is Well
Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can't see
And this mountain that's in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea
So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name
It is well with my soul