Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I Heard God’s Voice When the Doctor said “Cancer”

Have you ever doubted God’s love for you or wondered if the situation you are in is really something that God has under control? In this booklet I want to tell you the story of how God works and how you can hear His Voice if you listen….

I have lived in Ireland since 2004. Our family moved here because my husband is a pastor and we felt God’s call on our lives to come and teach from the Holy Scriptures about God’s transforming truth. My husband Gary is currently the pastor of believers at Ballinasloe Christian Fellowship.
In May 2007, we had the wonderful privilege of seeing a small miracle. A group of our friends from New York State came to help renovate a building that had been donated for use as a church. This team of committed believers radically transformed the forlorn structure into our meeting place. My friend Robin accompanied the men to help with the food preparation. At that time she gave me a little book called “ Calm My Anxious Heart”. Little did I know how that was to be used in God’s incredible timing and purposes for my life. I read it through the summer and urged others to read it. I was blessed and encouraged by it’s profound truths and the message of how God controls our lives.
The ladies from our church decided this little book would be a source of hope and encouragement to others. We planned our annual Ladies Day for the end of November 2007 with the theme of Calm My Anxious Heart.. At the time of the planning, I had noticed a lump in my breast and scheduled a mammogram. I asked for prayer and our small fellowship prayed for God’s intervention. The next few weeks were a blur of activity, the mammogram was suspicious. The ultrasound and biopsy confirmed that there was a lump that needed to come out., I was scheduled for a lumpectomy at Galway University Hospital.
During this time as my thoughts began to run away with possibilities and fears I was once again reminded of the promises I had been trying to memorize from the little book..
Phil.4:6-9, 11-13
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."
I began to lean on God, to follow through on His promises , and find peace to help guard my mind as I made a conscious choice to think on the right things and trust Him with my anxious heart.
I continued my habit of reading the Bible each day and also a small devotional called Our Daily Bread which I read on-line every morning. The Lord spoke to me as I read:
Day after biopsy results…

Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.” —Mark 11:2
Some of Jesus’ words to His disciples about having faith in God leave me wondering if I can ever exercise that level of trust and confidence in prayer. I can’t recall telling a mountain to relocate itself into the ocean and watching it happen.
Hudson Taylor, pioneer missionary to China, said that Jesus’ words in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God,” could be translated, “Hold on to the faithfulness of God.”
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, former pastor of London’s Westminster Chapel, appreciated Taylor’s insight and said: “Faith is holding on to the faithfulness of God and, as long as you do that, you cannot go wrong. Faith does not look at the difficulties. . . . Faith does not look at itself or at the person who is exercising it. Faith looks at God . . . . Faith is interested in God only, and it talks about God and it praises God and it extols the virtues of God.
The measure of the strength of a man’s faith, always, is ultimately the measure of his knowledge of God. . . . He knows God so well that he can rest on the knowledge. And it is the prayers of such a man that are answered.”
“Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations” (Ps. 119:89-90). —David C. McCasland
Trust in Him, ye saints, forever—He is faithful, changing never;Neither force nor guile can severThose He loves from Him. —Kelly

Life is not always fair, but God is always faithful.

This was a confirmation that my Lord sees and cares for me! While I was in the hospital God continued to give me incredible peace that I knew was more than simply “mind over matter”. I was focused on the scriptures that I had brought along on a paper and also those I had hidden in my heart as I reviewed them over and over. I talked and prayed with others in my ward, helping them to see God was with them.
The results from my lumpectomy pathology showed the cancer was not clearly defined, the surgeon recommended a mastectomy. I decided to also have a Latissimus Dorsi Flap reconstruction.

The day after meeting the surgeon I read this devotional after a long sleepless night:

"He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses." —Matthew 8:17
In reflecting on his deteriorating health, John Donne (1572–1631) described his feelings as physicians examined him to find "the root and occasion" of a serious illness. In hushed tones, they discussed their conclusions outside his room.
At first Donne was afraid, but in time he saw compassion in their faces and began to trust them. Their concern reminded Donne that he could trust the Great Physician. As he read the Gospels, he saw God the Father’s face in the tender, compassionate face of Jesus.
Many of us struggle with our thoughts about God, especially during illness. Perhaps we grew up attending a church that portrayed an angry God who inflicted sickness on us. Can we trust Him? Like Donne, we turn to the Gospels for our reason to trust God. And we find it in His Son Jesus, who was unfailingly compassionate toward those who were afflicted, regardless of the reason.
So we pray as Donne prayed, "Deliver me, therefore, O my God, from these vain imaginations"—the belief that by our sin we have forfeited God’s goodness and mercy. As Donne wisely said, the Great Physician "knows our natural infirmities, for He had them, and knows the weight of our sins, for He paid a dear price for them." —David H. Roper
The cross of Jesus is the supreme evidence of the love of God. —Oswald Chambers

Yes, I was having problems with my imagination, it was running away, a hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction! I needed to get back to the place of hope. It was a matter of trust, not anything I could do, I only had to remember how God is the “Blessed Controller of All Things, the King of kings and Lord of lords” says, 1 Timothy 6:15. I found such strength and real blessing from the Psalms as I read them., especially my favorite, Ps.103.
God’s perfect timing once again allowed me to speak to the Ladies Day about my experiences and show them that I could have perfect peace while awaiting the surgery only a few days away. He brought me through with such a joy, the deepest time of trust I have ever felt and more opportunities to tell my three breast cancer roommates about how much God loves them.

A great time of restoration and renewal occurred just before my surgery as my husband and I celebrated our 30th anniversary in Israel. It was a lifelong dream that was like an oasis in a desert for me. I began to see how the God of the Bible, who performed these miracles was there for me in my unique circumstances. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever”, it says in Hebrews13:8. If He could do it then, He was able to do it in my life today and in my future, whatever it holds. Another verse that spoke to me was, “My times are in His hands”, Psalm 31:15.
Even though I believed in Jesus Christ and had been a follower of Him and His Word I neglected to trust Him completely with the areas of my life that were out of my control. I began to see how often I wanted the control myself and I assumed that I was running things, but it was not the case. God was watching me and allowing me to run around frantically, just patiently waiting for me to call out His name.
Since I have had cancer and experienced His amazing love through this journey I have begun to relinquish other areas of my life over to His control. My children, my husband, my finances and my future are all well taken care of as I lay them down at His feet and ask Him to release me from the burden of worry or frustration. He never meant for me to handle any of these, just trust and admire Him as He does a much better job than I could ever imagine!
My days and nights are filled with praises as I honestly think on how wonderful and powerful God is, and all He has done in my life. He is my Healer, my Helper, My Savior, My friend. No longer do I allow my thoughts to wander for very long, I quickly “pull in the reigns” and keep them in control. Jesus reminds us in Luke 10:27, “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and all your mind”. I am working on this, little by little every day, Jesus is changing me.
I pray that you will also put your trust in your heavenly Father. He says in Jeremiah 33:3 “ Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know”.
“ Call upon the name of the Lord and you shall be saved” Romans 10:13
“Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." John 6:29

Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow ( Nav Press) can be ordered through Scripture Union in Ireland

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Holly goinire@yahoo.com