Before Sarah was diagnosed with cancer, we had prayed for plenty of people that had been diagnosed with cancer. As I think back about the people in our life that cancer has taken, it is heart wrenching. I remember growing up and feeling like cancer was a death sentence. There are certainly survivors of cancer and for that I am thankful. It’s a battle that I would not wish upon my worst enemy. I know families that are in the middle of the battle right now and for those- I continue to pray. Once cancer has entered your comfort zone, you realize how invasive and all too common it really is.
The fact that Sarah could go from a seemingly healthy normal kid having some minor pain in her arm to dying from cancer in 10 months, is still so hard to believe. She seemed so vibrant and strong, even as her cancer progressed. She had so much life left in her.
“But God”…you see, that’s a popular saying these days in Christian dialogue. But God…what did He do? She’s gone. There was no miracle. It sure feels like she was a victim of Cancer. She’s no longer here with us. Oh, how we prayed. All over the literal world people were praying for our girl. Praying for a miracle. God didn’t answer our prayers. How do we reconcile this disappointment with our faith?
As we were immersed deeper into the battle, rest assured we clung deeper to the promise that God is good and that He is and was very capable of ridding her body of the cancer. We researched miracles-the miracles in scripture and the miracles that are still happening today around the world. Trust me, they do still happen. It strengthened our faith and gave us so much hope. Logically, we could see how it could all play out. Sarah was made to minister. She loved talking to people about Jesus and if God chose to heal her on earth, she would gladly devote the rest of her life to spreading her testimony and the gospel to whomever would listen. She firmly believed that He was going to heal her. Her faith was big.
As her cancer progressed, we tried to prepare ourselves with the reality that she may die, but we also held on to the possibility that anything could happen. After all, nothing is impossible with God. Preparing her for the possibility that she may be leaving us, was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face. It felt like I was crushing her faith, but I didn’t want her to miss her opportunity to say her good-bye’s. It was unthinkable to accept that in 15 short years, she had accomplished everything on earth that God had planned for her to do here.
As I have grieved, I have talked to God very honestly about my disappointment. I still believe with all of my heart that He is good and that His will towards us is good. He loves us and wants what’s best for us. How do I reconcile that with the disappointment that I feel? One of the most profound statements that I heard during our journey through all of this was by Bill Johnson, pastor of Bethel. In regards to healing disappointments, he said “If we want the peace that surpasses all understanding, then we need to give up our right to understand.” Hard to accept, but true. Even Jesus prayed and asked for some other way other than the crucifixion. Even his request wasn’t answered. Death was the only way for Him to accomplish resurrection. It was the will of the Father. In coming to terms with His will for Sarah, He’s reminded me that my plans for Sarah’s life aren’t as good as His plans. Ouch. What He has planned for her in heaven is so much bigger and greater than any ministry here on earth. My feelings should never determine what is true about God. Just because I feel disappointed does NOT mean that God is a disappointing God. What was true about Him before cancer, is still true after cancer.
To be honest, I’m still struggling with singing the words “you have never failed me yet.” But God…what is He doing? He’s being ever so patient with me as I question Him and realize that what I’m really saying is that He failed to do what I wanted Him to do. He’s been so close, while I grieve. He is sustaining us through the unthinkable. He hates cancer even more than I do. He didn’t create it and one day it will get what it deserves. Until then, He will make new and beautiful things out of the dust of this broken earth here and He’s already made Sarah new in heaven. She still has lots to accomplish for Him and is ministering in ways that I can’t even understand. He doesn’t want me to stop asking for miracles and bringing my request to Him. He doesn’t want me to distance myself from Him in my disappointment. I’m convinced that staying in His presence is the best way for me to heal and actually even stay close to Sarah’s spirit. She is certainly in His presence too. I know that He used Sarah’s life to deepen the faith of many and in a lot of ways, her work here on earth continues. As I wrestle with the “why,” I know that I may never get all my answers and I’m ok with that right now. His peace replaces my need to understand and that in itself is definitely a miracle.