“I feel like I’m right in the middle of that rain shaft, suspended over the ocean,” I told my husband as we waited out a Florida afternoon rain on our hotel balcony. “There’s light and beauty all around me, but I feel like I’m just lost in that storm.”
Just two nights before, we awoke to the cries of our 11-year-old son, the pain in his right lower abdomen so great that he woke up from a deep sleep. Our vacation took a solemn turn as my husband loaded him up in our rental car and drove to a children’s hospital thirty minutes from our hotel. We suspected appendicitis, but after initial scans, the doctors told my husband our son had a mass in his abdomen that would require surgery, though not that night.
“What is it?” I texted my husband from our dark hotel room, our two other children back asleep.
“They’re not sure,” He texted back. “He’s not in any pain now though, so we’re headed back to the hotel. We’ll need to make an appointment with a surgeon when we get home to Texas,” he replied.
I’m not a medical person, but even I know enough to understand a mass in an 11-year-old’s abdomen isn’t great. Though the doctors at the children’s hospital were relatively sure the mass wasn’t cancer, there wasn’t any way to tell without surgery.
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I am a believer in a good God, one who saved His people from their captors as they marched across dry land with walls of water on each side. I know that God is compassionate, loving, and kind. But God also allows people to go through difficult things, even unbearable things at times. God is not absent in them; He promises to be with us in all things.
Yet His presence was exactly what I was afraid of.
God was with Peter, Paul, and John the Baptist as they faced gruesome deaths. God was with Daniel in the den of lions. God was with me as I suffered a miscarriage and a failed adoption. I know that God is always with me, yet in this storm, it didn’t feel like enough. Instead, it felt like He was leading me to the valley of the shadow of someone’s death, and I was doing my best to dig my heels in so we never arrived. I know that God is with me; yet that day, I didn’t want Him.
Instead, I wanted a miracle from God more than I wanted His presence, and that scared me almost more than a looming cancer diagnosis. I felt like a zombie, unable to enjoy watching the waves tickle my kids’ toes, or feel the peace that inevitably calms my heart when I’m on the shore of the sea. I felt like I was in the middle of the storm in front of us, with no way to get a breath of air. More than hopeless, I felt angry and cold.
Two weeks later and one surgery later, we got word that our son’s mass is benign and for that I’m grateful; I know that countless others are walking through treacherous medical diagnoses. Today, I sat down with the Lord and prayed a lot and asked some big questions, mostly about the state of my own heart. Over and over again, when the people in the Bible wanted the miracles of God before they wanted God Himself, they weren’t in a good place.
As I prayed and studied, I read the verse in Matthew 19 that says nothing is impossible with God. God stopped me dead in my tracks as I re-read the verse. Nothing is impossible with God, not just for God.
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Other verses and stories flooded my mind, parts of the Bible that tell us that God walks us through the valley of the shadow of death, leading us. How He showed up in the fiery furnace of the Old Testament, and put on flesh and walked among us. Nothing is impossible with God, because He is with us, even though He might save us from physical harm.
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I know that with God, all things are possible. However, my previous understanding was too small, too narrow. Previously, I thought that verse meant that God can do all things, generally leaning toward claims of healing and prosperity.
Today, though, as I read it, I saw that nothing is impossible with God, not just for God. With God, no matter what He asks of me, nothing I go through is impossible. Nothing . . . not even a cancer diagnosis. Not the loss of a child, or a spouse, or any other curve ball life throws at me.
I don’t have any answers and I still feel cold and angry, and if I’m honest, fearful of God rather than having a holy fear of Him. Like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop and a call to come that says the doctors missed something. But maybe I can offer the comfort today that God never asked us to be at peace with His decisions; He just promised to be with us and to be our peace when none seems near. With God, you can face whatever you’re walking through, even if you don’t feel like holding His hand through it.