One month into my daughter’s treatment, the genetic tests for her tumor came back with bad news. Two separate, yet equally rare, abnormalities were discovered, and both indicated the tumor was fiercely aggressive. The treatment she had started would not be sufficient to eradicate all the rogue cancer cells floating through her body. More chemo was added to her regimen, and so was radiation.
My momma's heart sank. Emergency surgery, chemotherapy, all the pokes, and extra medications were hard enough, but now my baby had to be exposed to this. I didn’t need to google to know the risks involved. I knew radiation was necessary, but I was terrified.
The radiation portion of her treatment was the worst for her and me. She was too young to lay perfectly still so every day for two weeks she was put under anesthesia. The nurses broke some rules to let me hold her until she fell asleep and then I slipped out the door as tears silently slid down my face. The waiting room chair was cold and sterile. My breath came in short, fast gasps, and my hands shook. Where was God in all this darkness?
As I cried out to him – here are three truths he showed me in that stiff, brown, vinyl chair.
HE IS IN CONTROL
God is the creator of everyone and everything. In Genesis 1:2 God said, “Let there be light, and there was light”. God spoke, and it was. There was no hesitation on the part of creation – waiting to decide whether to be made or to go and do the thing God made it to do. God spoke and the light shown.
In Luke 8:24 during a terrifying storm Jesus “rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was calm”. All of the creation listens to and obeys the voice of God.
Radiation in its most basic form is light. And those light beams were under the sovereign and merciful authority of God. They were only allowed to go where God allowed them. They couldn’t argue, rebel, or stray even a hairbreadth from where God permitted.
Yes, my daughter was being submitted to dangerous light waves – but those light waves were in the gentle hands of God.
HE IS PRAYING
Those excruciating minutes before I got my daughter back in my arms were not filled with eloquent prayers. Most days I just whispered “Jesus” over and over while trying not to cry in front of the nurses and other patients moving around me. But I never once felt guilty for not having words to pray. The Lord in his kindness covered me with his peace and reminded me of Romans 8:26-28, 34:
“Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for our good, for those who are called according to this purpose.
“Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us”.
I was free to sit and rest in the fact that both the Holy Spirit and Jesus himself were interceding for my daughter to the Father. The triune God was fully and completely covering her with his care, concern, and love.
HE IS GENTLE
In those moments when my heart was broken, I didn’t need someone to give me a sermon about having stronger faith. I needed my gentle God to wrap me in his arms and remind me that He is kind, loving, and tender toward those who are hurting.
Psalm 34:17-18 says, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
And in Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus describes himself by saying, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
That waiting room chair, in all its vinyl squeakiness, has become a picture of God’s closeness to me. My burning bush moment where I was overwhelmed by the presence of God and His gentle care of me and my broken heart.
Wherever you are sitting, and whatever treatment your child is enduring, may you know that God is in control, that He is praying for you, and that His gentleness will hold you close.