On August 2, 2012, cancer took one of the best people in my life from me, my mom. Some might say that my mom “lost her battle” with cancer. And I totally get the intent behind this phrase, but to be honest, I am not a fan of this wording. Because my mom really lost nothing and gained everything. When my mom took her last breath on this earth, she gained being face to face with Jesus, and that, my friends, is more of a win than anything that we could have on this earth.
Cancer is a result of the Fall. Before the Fall in Genesis, there was no death, disease, or cancer, but after the first sin, death and all of the bad that comes with it entered our world, and things were never the same. However, after the Fall came the Rescue, and because of the Rescue of Jesus Christ, what is meant for evil in our world, God can (and does) use for our good and His glory.
Yes, cancer took one of my most favorite people from me, but the Father has used it and is using it to give me things and teach me things that would not have been possible otherwise. So, tonight, I’m trying to stop focusing on what I don’t have, and I’m going to reflect on what I do have by the grace of God. Mother’s Day is coming on Sunday, and to be honest, it’s one of the hardest days for me when it comes to missing Mom. I kind of want to crawl in bed and stay there, but how would the Lord be glorified in that? Instead, I’m going to sit here in Mom’s chair, and process all of the ways that the Lord has used Mom’s cancer in my life for my good and His glory.
First, God used Mom’s cancer to drive me to the Word. I studied my Bible before Mom was diagnosed with cancer, but her diagnosis drove me to the Word like never before. Mom’s cancer diagnosis flipped my world upside down, so I went to the only thing that I knew was unchanging, the Lord and His Word. We’re about 7 years removed from Mom’s initial diagnosis, and as I reflect, these 7 years are also the 7 years that the Lord has been using to give me a deep passion for biblical literacy. I do not understand all of the ways of the Lord, but in hindsight, Mom’s cancer had to have been one of the ways that He was molding my heart to love His Word, to love studying it, and to love teaching others how to study it.
God also used Mom’s cancer to make me stand on the Word. My whole life I had learned the promises of Scripture- that God works all things together for our good, that He is strong when we are weak, that He cares for us, and so on. But honestly, I had not really had to act on and believe on His promises that much. When Mom was diagnosed, I did. Because of cancer and her death, I have had to stand on and believe with everything in me that Romans 8:28 is true. I have had to trust that I can cast my cares on the Lord because He does care for me (1 Peter 5:7). I have had to learn and believe that God’s grace is sufficient for my weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). Friends, can I tell you something? God’s Word has never failed me. I have stood on and believed His promises, and they are sure, solid ground.
Another way that the Lord used Mom’s cancer was that He gave me a deeper love for the Church and the local church. When Mom was sick, my family said quite often that people were “Jesus with skin on” to us, and oh, how true that was! The love that was poured out on us during that time was incredible. Truly, I do not understand how a person or family could weather a storm such as cancer without the arms of the Church around them. What a gift the Church and the local church is to us as believers!
Really, there are so many ways that the Lord has and is using Mom’s cancer and death in my life to make me more like Him. I’m sure that there are ways that I will never fully see on this side of eternity. Does this mean that I love cancer and think that it’s super awesome? Definitely not! I miss my mom every day, so much. I grieve her, especially in this season of Mother’s Day, and it seems that with each new season of life, I grieve her for a different reason.
But Scripture tells us that we do not grieve as those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). This means that in my grief, I can rejoice because I know that my mom has won. She’s with Jesus and she wouldn’t come back if she could. This also means that in my grief, I can rejoice for all that the Lord is doing and the ways that He is working.
I will never understand all of the ways of the Lord. His thoughts are not my thoughts and neither are His ways my ways. Do I wish that He could’ve driven me to His Word, taught me to stand firmly on His promises, and given me a love for His Church without having to lose my mom? To be honest, yes, but that’s not how He chose to work. In God’s divine, sovereign will, He used cancer, something that is awful, hard, and sad, to bring the good of making me more like Him and to glorify Himself in the world. The Lord so often uses the suffering in our lives to prune us for His glory instead of the easier seasons in our lives.
So, friends, I don’t know your story. I don’t know what suffering the Lord has brought you through or has you in. The world wants you to suffer as if you have no hope. The world wants you to let bitterness take root. But Christ calls us to so much more, to something much more abundant. Christ calls us to have joy in our suffering, and if we press into Him as we ride the waves of the storms, He will use the storms of life to drive us deeper to Him in ways that might not be possible otherwise.
While cancer took my mom from me, God is bigger than cancer, and He used cancer to give me gifts that are of eternal value. God is bigger than the storm you’re facing too. While we don’t always understand how the Lord works, and while sometimes it seems that He’s not working, if you’re a believer, you can trust in what Scripture says- He IS working, and He is working it together for your good!
And as I wind my brain down for the evening, I’m leaving you and myself with this thought that I’m going to cling to for the rest of this week- God IS good. The Gospel IS true, and the Gospel means that my brokenness is redeemed for the glory of God!
Happy Mother’s Day week, friends.