As I read what a friend wrote about being "blessed by the fire" that burned her house to the ground, I was reminded of something that I had said recently to my daughter's Sunday School class of women. It was something that had been tumbling around in my head for a while, but I had never actually verbalized the thought. And if you had told me just a year ago that I would ever say those words, I would have said that you were crazy. It was just this past weekend that I said the words for the second time, and it was to the group of my closest friends when we went on our annual retreat together. I'm still very cautious about saying these words because most people won't understand, but I have to say them anyway and trust that God will use the words wherever they need to be read or heard.
"I'm grateful I had cancer." There! I've said it again! It took me only three years to say that out loud. Do I want to do it again? A resounding NO! I didn't want to do it the first time, and I certainly don't want to do it again! God and I have had that discussion—more than once! I pray daily that I never have a repeat of that experience, especially for my family's sake. However, I have arrived at the point that I can truly say that if that is how He chooses to use my life, then so be it.
2007 was without a doubt the worst year of my family's life. I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer (lymph node involvement) in April and finished with surgeries, chemo, and radiation on December 21, 2007. There is so much I could say about that year—none of it good. Then how can I be "grateful I had cancer," you may ask: because God was involved, and He did many, many wonderful, loving, compassionate things for us that year, and, to me, the greatest thing He did was to change me. For that I am eternally grateful! I am a much better person than I was, and I like the "new me" much more. I have a clearer picture of so many things—what my priorities need to be, how blessed I am in everyday life, the reality of what God wants me to do and be while I'm on this earth. The most important "clearer picture" is that I got to know—really know—God so much better. For those things (and many others), I am grateful! Have I "arrived"? Absolutely not, but I am farther along than I was b.c. (before cancer). I do not want to go back to being the person I was b.c. So "Thank you, God, for teaching me, for changing me, for allowing me to learn so many things—even if it took cancer to do it."
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8 – 9
Written by Sandra Timmons