May 27, 2009. This is the day I learn I have cancer. Weird. I never thought I’d hear those words. I am still drowsy from anesthesia. The doctor just comes in, and she says, “Well, we thought it was hemorrhoids, but it’s not. It’s a tumor. It’s cancer.” Just like that. Now I am a person with cancer.
Tragedy strikes. No one is exempt. It comes swiftly, surprising those who are touched, leaving bewilderment and shock in its wake. As I get older I am realizing that tragedy is a normal part of the human experience. In the last month alone I have been aware of the following:
A four-year-old boy is diagnosed with a brain tumor.
A 38-year-old mother dies leaving a husband and three children.
A 48-year-old man is suddenly jobless after years of faithful work on the job.
A son commits suicide, leaving his parents devastated and questioning.
A young mother’s breast cancer returns with a vengeance.
A young preacher is killed in a head-on collision leaving his family fatherless and his church pastorless.
How do we survive these kinds of things? Where do we go with our grief? Where do we take our questions, our anger, our pain, and our fear? Who will answer the “Why?” that echoes across the universe? My cancer diagnosis can’t even compare to some of these other losses, but the one thing it has shown me is that God is real. He is here. He will never leave.
Eyes blinded by tears and heart split open, I find myself running. Running to the one who said He would catch my tears in his hand and dry every tear from my eye, the one who said he would never leave me or forsake me, the one who said he would turn my mourning into dancing. He’s the one who will see me through when tragedy strikes. He is the only one who can.
Deuteronomy 32:11 tells me “(God is) like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads is wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions.”
God stirs up the nest. It reminds me of the many times as a mother I’ve had to stir up the nest in the lives of my children: moving them so many times, taking them out of their culture into something different, leaving them in tears at the gate of another new school, watching them say goodbye, again, to their family, to their friends, to all they knew. Stirring the nest. And then one by one moving them into the dorm, hugging them fiercely and driving away. It is incredibly difficult and painful to stir the nest.
But God stirs the nest anyway. He knows it will be good. He knows it will produce growth and strength. He knows it will give me wings. And it tears His heart out just the same as it tore mine out. God knew cancer was coming. He knew the journey would be a challenge. He knew it would be painful. And He hurts too. I am overcome with the realization of His intimate knowledge of all I am going though and the fact that He hurts with me. That’s the God I have.
And He is here. He hovers over me. As I fall from the nest and struggle to take flight, He is right here hovering over me, just in case. His eye is focused on me. He is watching. And should I tire, or should I give up, should I come near to crashing to the ground, He will spread out his wings to catch me and He will carry me. Peace shrouds every question. God is intimately involved in this with me.
A couple of years ago I went skydiving. The most exhilarating part was the initial jump from the plane. We were free falling at 140 miles an hour and yet it felt like we were floating. That’s where I find myself now. I am in a free fall, but I have such an incredible peace and sense of beauty as I float to the ground knowing that God is hovering over me. Nothing can go wrong! His eye is on me. I can rest.
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