Born into a Christian family, I was raised in a Baptist church where I professed my faith in Jesus and was baptized at age six. As I grew up, my faith increased and if I had been asked, I would have said that there was nothing that could cause me to turn away from God. I held this belief well into adulthood, until age 32 when I was diagnosed with cancer.
Cancer changes everything.
Up until the moment I surfaced from deep, anesthetic-induced sleep in the hospital recovery room, I had been convinced that God would intervene and somehow preserve my fertility
. My mother was a wife and a stay-at-home mom: two things I desperately wanted for myself. I’d been married for four years and believed strongly that God would allow me to have a baby. When I woke up and realized it was not to be,
I was deeply saddened and soon, very angry.
During the six months between diagnosis and my hysterectomy, I relied heavily on God to get me through each day. I prayed often, asking for strength, for healing, for a release from the fear that gripped me each night when I tried to sleep. I felt His peace, I knew He was working in me, and yet, when He didn’t answer my prayer regarding children the way I wanted, I was done with Him. I turned my back in anger and refused to speak to Him again.
I was angry and bitter for close to a year. When you grow up experiencing God, a year without Him is a lonely, desperate twelve months. I convinced myself, however, that my anger was justified. He hadn’t healed me as I had demanded. What was wrong with Him? Surely it was His fault, His problem, not mine.
Even though I was ignoring Him, God wasn’t ignoring me. He worked on my heart over and over again; I knew people were praying for me and it struck such a deep chord when they would tell me so. After a while, doubts began to play on my mind. I began to believe that perhaps my salvation wasn’t real, that my profession of faith was a sham. How could I claim to love and trust Jesus and believe that He had died for me if I could so easily turn my back on Him? I made an appointment to speak with my pastor, who told me that he believed I was born-again. “If you aren’t, Kat,” he said kindly, “then I don’t think you’d be in my office today. I don’t think you’d care.”
My pastor went on to tell me that being angry at God is not uncommon, and that He understands because He created us as emotional beings. He encouraged me to try talking to God again, and to start by not being afraid to tell Him how angry I was. I don’t remember how much time went by before I did just that, but I know it began the healing that continues
Looking back, I can see that I was angry because God wasn’t the God that I wanted Him to be. I wanted Him to be a genie that would grant my wish, and when He didn’t, I walked away. I know now how selfish that was, and how arrogant it was of me to try to cram God into my little box. God is who He is, the Alpha and the Omega, all-seeing, all-knowing, and all-powerful. He doesn’t fit into a box. It isn’t His job to do what I want. It’s my job to ask Him what He wants me to do and to obey His will for my life. It isn’t easy to accept that His will includes me being childless, but I know I can trust that it all works together for good, as a part of His larger plan that has not yet been revealed.
I have God to thank for my life, in so many ways, but in one particular way that still rocks me back on my heels when I think about it. The night before I was diagnosed, I thought I was having an extremely heavy period. The truth was, my uterus was hemorrhaging. While still at home, before my husband rushed me to the ER, I grew so tired that I laid down on our bed and went to sleep. I was bleeding to death; it’s likely I wouldn’t have woken up, if not for God.
God changes everything.
Did a cancer diagnosis ever cause you to doubt your faith in a religion? How did you cope?
Photo courtesy of Patrick Fore.