I had signed in at the registration desk and was walking across the waiting room to join my husband who had found two chairs on the opposite side of the room. As I passed a man and woman who were seated close to the desk, I heard her call out to me not by my name but by the name of the church I had previously attended. Thinking this was a little odd, I turned toward the voice and found myself looking into the face of a woman I hadn’t seen in at least 15 years, and I even remembered her name (Catherine). She apologized for not remembering mine, but when I looked at her face closely, I knew why my name had escaped her: she was not feeling well, and fear was written all over her countenance. That was totally understandable; we were, after all, in a chemotherapy lab. I knew that look; I knew that fear.
As she stood in response to my offering her a hug, she looked rather fragile, and I could see bandages peeking out from the neck area of her shirt. I felt a tightening in my stomach, and even though I knew the answer was not going to be a pretty one, I asked, “What are you doing here?” Rather weakly, she replied, “Today is my first day of chemo.” My heart sank because I remembered my own “first day of chemo” just three years prior. I remembered the fear of knowing absolutely nothing about what was about to take place in my body. How would I feel when the chemo first went into my body? Would it burn? Would I even know it was happening? Would I get sick? How long would it take?
I just had to do it: I sat down in front of her and chatted for a few minutes, sharing my experience with cancer with her, doing my best to reassure her that today would not be nearly as bad as she had imagined it might be. It’s that not knowing that sets one’s imagination in motion. Thank goodness, she has the same oncologist that I do, and he’s a wonderful, Christian man as well as a phenomenal physician, so I spent a few minutes singing his praises. I also assured her that (in my opinion) she was being treated at the best cancer treatment facility in town. The staff people are absolutely wonderful, and they wait on and take care of their patients as if they were royalty. My cancer was stage three breast cancer three years ago. I am now on a two--three month check-up schedule, and I can hardly wait to get there every time to see those wonderful men and women who took such great care of me; it’s like a family reunion every time I go.
The nurse came out and called me to the back to have my lab work done, so I promised Catherine that I would check on her before I left. After my lab work was finished, I was scheduled to see my doctor for my regular check-up. When that was over, I stopped back by the chemo lab to see how things were going with Catherine. As I chatted briefly with her, several of the nurses came by to speak to me and give me a hug, and I introduced each of them to Catherine and reassured her that they are the best in the field. As I was leaving, I promised Catherine that I would be checking on her in a few days.
Several days later, I did just that and got a most unexpected greeting from her. When she answered the phone, she didn’t even say, “Hello.” She simply said, “There’s my angel.” To say that she caught me off-guard is putting it mildly; I really was speechless for a few seconds. In all honesty, I thought that perhaps she had looked at her caller ID wrong and was expecting to speak to a dear, close friend or a family member. Not knowing exactly how to respond, I sort of chuckled for a bit and then said something really inane like, “Well, am I your angel?” I fully expected her to say something like, “Oops, I thought you were my sister/good friend/mother/etc.” But she didn’t. She went on to say that she had been telling a friend about our “chance” meeting at the cancer center several days prior to this phone call. Catherine had told her friend how nervous she had been, and when she looked up, because of my white blouse and my “blonde” hair that I really did look like an angel sent to her to help calm her fears. (I thanked her for calling my hair blonde, but in all truth, it is now varying shades of gray---thanks to chemo!)
Catherine and I had a wonderful chat about God’s love and power and ability: He created everything and keeps everything working in an orderly manner (I Corinthians 14:40). The really amazing thing is that He also takes the time and effort to do the “little” things for us, His children, when we need His reassurance--like arranging for our paths to cross that day in the chemo lab. Squire Rushnell wrote a book entitled When God Winks At You. He tells story after story of people who have experienced a coincidence in their lives which they later realized was not a coincidence at all but something which God had done for them. Rushnell says that when God winks at you, He is, in essence saying, “I haven’t forgotten about you or your situation; I’m still here. I’m still in control, so you don’t have to worry.” Rushnell also says that when God does something special like this, it’s as if a close friend is winking at you to remind you of some special secret or bond between just the two of you. I love that thought—that God is a close friend trying to reassure me of His love and His ability to take care of anything in my life.
I was first diagnosed in April of 2007. After the shock of the diagnosis started fading a bit and I was just beginning to get just a tiny idea of what treatment was going to be like, I asked a special favor from God: If I was going to have to do this cancer thing, I didn’t want it wasted. I wanted someone else to benefit from all I was going through. God has been so faithful to give me opportunities to share with and encourage other women as they experience cancer and the treatments they must endure.
II Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT)—
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.
When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
If you’ve ever had doubts that Romans 8:28 could really be true, this is God’s plan for our spiritual growth, the encouragement of His children, and a witness to the unbeliever.
Romans 8:28 (NLT)—
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are
called according to His purpose for them.
God can take all the bad stuff in our lives (death, divorce, cancer, rape, financial problems, problems with our children, etc.), and use them to comfort, heal, and renew us. He then instructs us (II Corinthians 1:3-4) to “pass it along” by helping others who are suffering and struggling. When we obey that instruction, many good things can happen: our faith in and our relationship with God grows; someone else is helped through a tough time; and unbelievers may witness all of this and wonder, “How can I have a life like that?”
However, the key points to this plan’s working is that: (1) First, we have to be willing to give the situation to God. (2) Second, we must be willing to be open and honest with others about our situation when God gives us the opportunity to share. So often, all we want to do is survive the tough time ourselves, put it behind us, try never to think about it again, and we most certainly do not want to tell anyone about our difficulty.
I’m thinking that God the Father might have wanted to do that Himself when His innocent son was crucified for our sins. Aren’t we blessed that He didn’t?