Five years ago, on November 15, my family got a phone call. It was a Thursday afternoon at about one o'clock, and the debate practice tournament was that Saturday. I can still picture exactly where I was sitting (in the loft) and what I was doing (putting all of our printed evidence into my binder).
My mom was sitting by the computer, and answered the phone, like usual. It seemed like a normal conversation, until I heard her say, "Yes, I'm sitting down." That's when I began to wonder. And worry. I don't remember the rest of what was said, but I do remember exactly what my mom said when she hung up. "I have cancer." Those were devastating, life-changing, scary words.
I knew that those words should have made me cry, and made me scared. But they didn't. All the adrenaline that comes with preparing for a tournament stopped those words from impacting me the way they should have. That is, until Sunday morning, after the tournament adrenaline had worn off.
That's when the full weight of what was happening really struck me. I have such vivid memories about that Sunday, even down to what song we sang for choir, and how it seemed perfect for my situation:
In prisoner's chains, with bleeding stripes,Paul and Silas prayed that night,And in their pain, began to sing.Their chains were loosed, and they were free.
'I bless Your name. I bless Your name.I give You honor, give You praise.You are the Life, the Truth, the Way,I bless Your name. I bless Your name.'
I remember sobbing during worship that morning, and then sobbing some more alone in our bedroom that afternoon, questioning the Lord and His purposes. Didn't He know that I needed my mom? I dug into Scripture that day like I have at no other time. And then something changed. Hope came into view. I will never forget the power that Psalm 18 had that day:Some midnight hour if you should findYou're in a prison in your mindReach out and praise,Defy those chainsAnd they will fall in Jesus' name.
"You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop ; with my God I can scale a wall...For who is God besides the LORD ? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect."It's been five years, and other than that one day where hopelessness reigned, all I can remember is God's goodness.
His goodness when I could no longer stand.
His goodness when the storm raged.
His goodness when it was all I could do to face another day.
His goodness to provide exactly what I needed when I needed it.
The cancer is, by His grace, gone for now, and has been for four years. What remains is memories of who God is and the great things He has done. My mom's journey through cancer was a time when I knew the goodness of God in the most powerful of ways. It was not easy, but it is a time that I look back towards with great joy because I was so desperate to know the truth of Jesus. And He was so very sweet.
For that reason, I am sad that I did not remember November 15 this year. That day has always been one of the biggest reminders of His faithfulness and grace. It is a good thing to raise our ebenezer, to remember that it was He who has helped us thus far and it is He who will bring us safely home.
May we always remember His goodness to us! If He loved us, rebels against Him in every way, enough to give His own son to die in our place, how can we not trust Him through the pain? Trials will come in this broken world, but in the storm, let us seek His goodness, His grace and His strength.
We will find Him faithful.
And may His faithfulness bring us to our knees in worship.