“When we heard of it our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” Joshua 2:11
What has happened to you in your life that melted your heart in fear?
If you have ever had your life threatened, you know that feeling of fear. If someone close to you has ever deeply betrayed you, you know that feeling of fear. If someone you dearly love has denied a once deeply held faith, you know that feeling of fear.
Today, April 7, is a personal celebration day for me. It is my five-year anniversary as a stage three breast cancer survivor.
But, I want to back up my story , to that day long before I was diagnosed, to a day when my heart melted.
Over six years ago, we lived in another city. My husband was a management consultant, traveling every week for work. In other words, we lived different lives. He was working 16-20 hour days, I was home raising and home schooling two daughters.
One weekend he landed and told me he wanted to talk. What came next melted my heart: “I cannot profess Christianity any longer.”
As I learned his reasoning I completely disagreed but I could not change his mind. I could see where Satan was working overtime to sow seeds of doubt in my husband’s faith and in our marriage.
I had no one to turn to, that is, no one with skin on; I had only God.
“God, use whatever You need to use to show him You are not only real, but that You love us dearly,” became my daily, and sometimes, minute-by-minute prayer.
Fast forward eighteen months: we had moved and my husband took a job where he traveled much less. We added another daughter to our family. And I kept praying that prayer.
On April 7, 2008 I had surgery, a lumpectomy, for an unidentified mass in my breast. I was young, at 32. I had a five-month-old baby. My body had been through many changes. No need to worry!
At 9 pm that night, I awoke in the recovery room. My nurse was in tears. Not knowing she was crying over me, I prayed to God to comfort her.
A moment later, my doctor and my husband entered the room with long faces. “Stefanie, you have breast cancer,” my doctor informed me. He had taken my “lump” to the lab himself.
Forty-five minutes later, my husband and I were in the car going home. My husband looked at me and saw I was smiling. Naturally, he thought I was loopy from the drugs and asked if I were alright.
“Yes,” I answered. Just moments before I had been praying and God had reminded me of the prayer that I had been praying for eighteen months. This was not what I had imagined, but I knew this was God’s answer. And I knew I would be alright.
What I did not know that night was just how dramatic God would be. By the time I had a second surgery to remove the entire tumor, my tumor size was 9.5 cm. That is off the charts in the world of breast cancer! And then, almost all of my lymph nodes tested positive for cancer.
My five-year survival rate was less than 5%.
Yet, here I am, five years later with no cancer to be found! My hair has come back and my energy levels are high again. I am keeping up with three active daughters, ages 14 down to 5.
And my husband? God used my diagnosis and treatment in many ways to bring him back to God:
1) God is the god over statistics!
2) Our new church family helped us so much during my treatment and recovery. They truly became the hands and feet of Christ! And, we were the “New family”, who had just moved here. Their love and willingness to serve someone they did not know was a true testimony to God’s love. Their love deeply impacted our family.
3) For several weeks after the diagnosis, through surgery and the beginning of chemo, my husband kept telling me he could not believe how well I was taking this cancer diagnosis. The answer was simple: I trusted God and God was carrying me through.
4) Almost one year to the day after my diagnosis, my scans came back clear. My doctors cautioned me that with such an aggressive cancer, the likelihood of reoccurrence was high. But in five years, it has not returned. Also, with the treatments I had, there was an increased risk of developing certain others cancers, but I have not.
5) Two years after the initial diagnosis, my husband chose to be baptized. He saw God for who He is: our divine creator, our loving father, and ruler over everything.
Maybe you are in a place today, where something has melted your heart in fear. I do not pen the following lightly: God is still greater! Trust in Him, He will not leave you! Wait patiently and He will use everything for good!
***Stefanie’s husband has read and approved of this devotional prior to posting.***
Monday: Reflect on what has melted your heart. How did you deal with it, or how are you currently dealing with it?
Tuesday: Read Joshua 2:1-13. Rahab did not know what her life would look like if the Israelites conquered her land. She probably assumed her trade would not be in high demand. She may have imagined she would be poor, homeless, and cast away, if she were alive at all. Yet, she chose to trust in God. And not only did she live, God redeemed her. She is in the lineage of Christ.
Wednesday: Read Genesis 22:1-19. Abraham was asked to do something which made no sense. Yet, he chose to not let fear melt his heart, or his resolve to obey God. Recall a time you made such a choice. If you have not yet had the opportunity, one is surely coming!
Thursday: Read Acts 9:10-19. Ananias was told to approach and care for a known persecutor of Christians. Although afraid, he chose to obey God’s commands and he cared for Saul. Obviously he needed to trust God would take care of him, and not allow Saul to harm him in any way, even though Saul had quite the reputation for dealing ever so severely with Christians. Have you ever faced persecution for following God or doing things His way? Have you done right and recorded the rewards?
Friday: Reflect on what Rahab, Abraham, and Ananias all had in common: they were called to something which made no sense in the earthly mindset. Each had to step out in faith and obey God’s commands. They had to trust God would take care of him or her.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I and my heart belong to You, and You alone. When things of this world, a diagnosis, a loss, anything, which melts my heart in fear, please remind me that You are there. You hold my tears, you hold my heart, and You alone hold my future in Your hands. Thank you! Amen.
As you reflect on these passages this week, other Bible stories may leap to your mind. Please share your insights and stories with us!
Thank you for reading! Please return by Monday, April 15, for the next post!