Sweat beaded across my brow. Duffle bag over my shoulder, I prepared to board the school bus after our district track meet. My dad, the girls’ track coach, stood by the bus waiting for the rest of the athletes.
Worry lines etched across his face, betraying the success of the team. His mind was elsewhere. I glanced at his hand. His wedding band still seemed out of place. Not one for jewelry, I had never seen him wear it; it remained tucked into a jewelry box until now.
Just a few weeks before, I walked into my home to see my mom in the chair, crying. I rarely saw my mom cry. She explained matter-of-factly that she had been to the doctor and they discovered a large mass in her breast. It was malignant, and she would undergo a total mastectomy. During the surgery and reconstruction, the surgeon would take lymph nodes to discover whether the cancer had spread.
She wasn’t crying for herself, she explained. She was crying for me.
My fifteen-year-old mind struggled to process the news. While everyone around me looked at me with pity and concern, the feeling of worry never really took root in my heart.
I’m not going to worry until I’m given something to worry about.
As far as I was concerned, unless cancer was found in her lymph nodes, she’ll have this surgery and be fine. Just a bump in the road.
Fifteen years later, I sat at my desk, arms resting on my bulging tummy, feeling the occasional kick from within. My phone rang and my dad’s overly-cheerful voice echoed on the other end. That was my first clue something was wrong.
Cancer was found in Mom’s kidney. Though unrelated to the breast cancer, the diagnosis was the same. Remove the kidney, move on with life.
My reaction to this diagnosis wasn’t unlike the first. I’m not going to worry until I’m given something to worry about.
And just like the breast cancer, after her kidney was removed, we were told no more cancer remained. They got it all.
And so we moved on, thankful for God’s protection and another near-miss.
Now, six years later, having just buried my mom because the kidney removal didn’t, in fact, “get it all,” I find myself looking back on my fifteen-year-old self at Mom’s first diagnosis.
I had no fear. I trusted.
Now, knowing what I know, experiencing what I’ve experienced, would I be so trusting, should another diagnosis hit close to home?
Was I simply naïve then? Immature? Unaware? Or did I have faith like a child?
Maybe all of the above.
“I trust in God’s faithful love.” (Psalm 52:8)
A repeated phrase in the prayers of the psalms is trusting in God’s faithful love.
That’s easy to do as a child, isn’t it, when God’s ways have never given cause for doubt. But as an adult, when you experience the worst-case scenarios, that trust is a little harder to come by.
The opposite of fear is trust. Perhaps that’s why the phrase trust in God’s faithful love is repeated with such frequency in God’s Word. Fear is the most natural response to life’s uncertainties. Particularly when it involves someone we care about. Or threats to our way of life. Or uncertainties or change.
But just as I want my children to trust in my faithful love to do and allow what is best for them — even when it hurts — God wants me to trust in His faithful love no matter what — especially when it hurts.
We can’t control circumstances of life. We can’t control what God allows, though we can always beg of him like a child begs her parent. But above all, God’s faithful love for us never changes.
Part of trusting in God’s faithful love is understanding what that looks like may not be what we expect. We expect to trust God for the miracles, for the healing. But to trust God even if He allows the unthinkable, that requires faith. And if we look closely through the eyes of faith, we’ll see God’s faithful love in action, ushering into our own storm the unthinkable. Peace.
A peace that truly passes understanding.
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