Cancer Trial

Indivisible: Learning to Recognize God’s Love in My Cancer Journey

The nurse squeezed my arm before rolling me into the MRI machine. I hadn’t missed the pity in her warm brown eyes. She’d read my chart. Stage 2 breast cancer at 39.

But breast cancer wasn’t a death sentence anymore. Unless my tumor hadn’t responded to the Chemotherapy and God chose not to heal me. Sweat broke out on my brow. The machine clanked over the foam headphones I wore. Soon I would know the answer.

I closed my eyes. Please God. Heal me. Allow me to raise my boys. Be David’s wife.

I swallowed and tried not to move. Or will I be meeting you soon?

Death had become real to me and near. I wanted to understand this God I knew in my heart but couldn’t explain. For months, I’d been studying the nature of God, begging Him to reveal Himself.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end!” (NET)

Revelation 22:13 made God seem like a distant ruler in the clouds but God hadn’t been detached from my life. He had been the “Father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5, NET) to me and disciplined me often (Hebrews 12:6). But obviously He was infinitely more—the Creator of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

I had questions. 1 Timothy 1:17 calls Him the invisible God. John 1:18 says no one has ever seen God, except Jesus. But Adam and Eve had walked with him in the garden—or was that Jesus or just a symbol? God had spoken to them but had they seen Him? What about fighting with Jacob (Genesis 32:30)? Or was that an angel?

“All things are held together in Him” (Colossians 1:17b, NET). He’s like the wind—you can feel Him and experience His work but you can’t see Him (see John 3:8). He led the Israelites as a cloud by day and a fire at night (Exodus 13:21-22). He is light (1 John 1:5), goodness (Mark 10:18), love (1 John 4:8-9). It takes faith to know Him (Hebrews 11).

What about Jesus? “He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15, NET). The invisible God made visible.

The machine hammered. Please, reveal Jesus to me. Help me understand who You are.

“Don’t you recognize me?”

Jesus had asked Philip a similar question in John 14:9: “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip?” (NET)

My life literally flashed before my eyes. All the relationships and people who had influenced me, made me who I am today, loved me. I saw a lifetime of hugs and smiles, and I recognized God in the love.

Like the glimpses of Him I’d seen in the people bringing my family food during my chemotherapy, and all the love that had been poured out on us from our church. Abiding in God is abiding in love (1 John 4:16). He gives the capacity to show His love to others.

Throughout my life, I’d searched for someone to give me love or tried to make more love on my own, but it was futile. Love had become trite to me. I loved a good cup of coffee or a movie, but also loved my children, husband, and God. I didn’t understand the magnitude of God’s pure selfless love on the cross.

God is love. I can’t create it without Him. It wasn’t just His action, it was born of who He is—LOVE. And it wasn’t something I deserved. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8b, NET)

All of my life I had felt, sensed, and known God’s love. I just didn’t recognize it was Him. And when He extends love to me, He asks that I also extend it to others, surrendering myself in love the way Christ surrendered Himself, first to God, then to others (see Matt 22:37-40). My prayer is for God to scrape me out so I can be filled with love, too.

Learning to worship God for who He is changes everything. When I realized God is love and understood I’ve known Him all my life then my worship became about gratefulness and praise to a Holy God who is good and perfect and beautiful for who He is. It’s not about us at all.

Do you see how God can love you no matter what you did? The same way He loves all people. It’s who He is. We want to believe we are worthy because of something we did, but it’s because of what He’s done.

So go ahead, my friend, put your hope in His unfailing love as Psalm 33:18 instructs and Live Like You’re Loved:

God did bless me with common grace. My tumor responded to the chemotherapy and I’ve been cancer free for two years now.

This first posted on EmilyConradauthor.com as part of the Indivisible series. Click to view additional photos and comments.

4 thoughts on “Indivisible: Learning to Recognize God’s Love in My Cancer Journey

  1. Yes. Exactly this, Robyn. Hope placed in Jesus is never misplaced. My story is slightly different – God is taking me on a longer cancer/chemo journey (almost five years now) but I’ve not taken a step without His love and strength, nor a misstep.

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  2. 6 years ago i went through a my own journey. It was with liver cancer. At the time, i had just turned 25 and it was 5 days after our little girl had been born. It was hard but i knew my only relief was trusting in God’s hand. My journey was heavy but God remained sovereign throughout.

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