Many times during my journey through cancer I was asked some form of the question “If God really loves you, why would he do this to you? (or allow this to happen, or why wouldn’t he heal you, etc.)” I’ve written about this before in this blog, and I truly believe that God knows exactly what is best for me, including struggles I go through, to make me into the person I need to be and to help me depend on him instead of trying to go through life on my own strength and abilities. However, something that concerns me is that other people might be shaken in their faith, or have a hard time believing in the goodness of God because of my illness or other similar situations. I know that I have been drawn closer to the Lord through this situation than ever before and been made stronger in my faith, but it is so hard to see from the outside. It can just look like God is failing me, or letting me suffer. My trust is absolute in his goodness and his wisdom.
Recently I found out that the 17-year -old nephew of a friend was diagnosed with a tumor on his brain stem. I want to share (with permission) the letter he wrote at 3 AM the night before his brain surgery. He is also currently undergoing radiation and chemotherapy. I was moved to tears and also incredibly strengthened by this letter and I hope that it can be as encouraging and powerful for others. I also ask that anyone who is so moved would remember Ben in prayer. Here is what he had to say about what he was facing:
by Ben Schoonover on Wednesday, August 17, 2011 at 3:07am
First off, I would like to express my thanks for everyone out there who has been praying for me. Your thoughts and prayers mean much to me as well as my family as they accompany me on what is a life changing experience. The news for me is that they’ll operate here today, remove as much of the tumor as they can, biopsy it and then treat whats left of it as they see fit. But I do not write this as an update, I write this note knowing that this surgery is very difficult and has much possibility of error in some way. The neurosurgeons are highly skilled professionals and I know this is their job, but I know that brain surgeons can mess up too. I do not write this message out of fear, anger, depression, or nervousness. I write this message to those who are watching out there, those who see everyone rally around me in prayer and want to see if God will pull through this time. I titled this message Daniel 3:16-18 because it is how I see my story. Daniel 3 tells the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three men who stood up against King Nebuchadnezzar and refused to bow down to him and his image. Now, I see this story relate to mine when the King takes them to the firey furnace in order to kill them. He looks at them and tells them that if they do not bow down this time they will be thrown into the furnace. He asks them, “what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”. They reply to him, saying, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from your majesty’s hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” We all know how the story ends. The three are spared, despite the intensity of the furnace, which burned the soldiers that threw them in. I feel as I am just as one of the three. I know God has the power to pull me out of this, and I have the peace that He will get me out of this one way or another. We all know and hope for the path that He will heal me and I will become a man of God with an amazing testimony. But there’s also the chance that God’s will is to take me home and away from this earth. My fear is not of death, I know where i’m going. My fear is that those who are watching these events and if it happens that I pass away as we all do will take this as a circumstance of God not pulling through for someone. Just because God doesnt take care of my tumor does not mean He left me. It means that my time for glorifying Him here is done and He would be taking me to a place with no suffering, no pain, no sickness. God chose to save Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He may choose to save me, but He may not. But I know this is what God set in front of me for whatever reason or higher purpose, so I approach it with confidence in Him and His plan. No one should look at it any different. He plots my course and I run my race, however long or short or rocky or smooth. He put me here, and I know He will take me when the time is right.