September 6, 2019, the world stopped turning. Plans we had made, dreams we were chasing, and day-to-day operations all came to a screeching halt. A cancer diagnosis changes everything.
After the “adrenaline week,” I crashed. I could hardly function and could barely stay upright. The emotions and thoughts of the previous week had completely wiped me out.
Since then, I’ve been introspective. Processing. What you are reading now is part of my process. . . I think and pray, and then I write. I’m sometimes surprised at what comes out. Very often, I’m more aware of my own feelings and thoughts after I have put them on the page. I’ve journaled for years, but somehow, this is different.
I know that my God does all things well. I know that nothing goes to waste, and that He brings good out of everything, no matter how terrible. Sometimes, that’s not easy to see. Sometimes, all we can see is the darkness. It’s hard to see past our pain, and harder still to see past the pain of those we love.
Some people don’t want to see past their pain. Instead, they nestle into it and make it their safe space–afraid that if they let go of the pain it means letting go of that person or thing they lost. Sometimes, I think pain becomes comfortable and we don’t move on because we fear that finding happiness and freedom means making a new start, finding a new normal, and what if we fail? What if the new thing is harder than the pain that we know?
This morning, I’ve been reading in Philippians. The Apostle Paul was a man who knew pain. He knew pain in ways I never will, and had an amazing outlook on it. I’m sure he struggled just like every other human, but He always saw that God was still in control, and that there was purpose in whatever hardship he was facing.
Philippians 1:12-14 caught my eye. “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear that throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”
My first thought as I applied this to my situation was I can’t compare myself to the Apostle Paul! Why not? He was just a man. He did incredible things for the Lord and advanced the gospel, but he did it by being teachable and usable. It was the power of God flowing through him that made the difference.
That same power flows through me, if I let it. If I remain surrendered and willing, if I trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness, this thing that has stopped my personal world can change the world around me.
And so, this is my prayer: that these “chains” that hold me would show those around me that God is worthy of praise. That He can be trusted with every fiber of my being. That a life without Him is empty and meaningless. The day-to-day road I walk can be rocky and difficult, especially the mountain that is directly before me. But my Travel Companion is gracious and kind, loving and perfect. There is so much joy in the journey, and if even one person gains courage through me, it is a journey worth taking.