Today, I expected to see the lump that my doctor found a couple of weeks ago. A large, firm growth over an ovary. It wasn’t particularly surprising. They are starting to see a connection between hyperemesis gravidarum and liver, kidney and ovarian cysts. Plus, genetically I am high risk for both cysts and cancer. Over the last three months, my body had gone haywire. I was unusually emotional, my skin was revisiting my teen years and my hair has been falling out more than usual. Of course, there was also the pain. Usually just a dull ache, but there were times it was debilitating enough to resort to pharmaceuticals. The GYN said she suspected the extreme pain was from the cyst twisting around. Per her order, we scheduled an ultrasound to be followed, she said, by surgical removal and a routine biopsy.
As Christians, we all say that God is in control of everything, but then something like this happens and we realize that we haven’t really been believing that. Or at least, that is what I realized. Could I have done something to prevent this? I really do love my MSG filled ramen, maybe I should have cut those out? There were those two months back when I was newly married that I used oral birth control, is that why this is happening? Fear makes me foolish — and frantic.
We waited 2 weeks to get to the ultrasound to give my health insurance time to kick in. The prolonged wait proved to be a God send. In the beginning the anxiety was substantial, but truth kept sneaking into my thought life, like water dripping off a shower head, little drops of peaceful truths…
“Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like of these.”
“All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
“You’ll have trouble in the world. But cheer up! I have defeated the world!”
The more I looked to God for comfort, the more I found and pretty soon the truth (and comfort) rained down on me. It wasn’t the kind of fake comfort that comes from ignoring reality. It was more like comfort transformed into courage. It was strong enough to face the unknown, confronting the worst case scenario and, much to my surprise, I found a breathtaking, overwhelming peace there.
It may have seemed like we were over-reacting. It’s just a cyst — totally normal, happens all the time — no big deal! I contemplated postponing the emotional landslide. I could just cross that bridge when/if it came to that, right? But it occurred to me that is probably isn’t the last time I’ll need to confront my fear of death — it certainly isn’t the first. So I went back to Scripture, back to prayers, back to figuring out how, not merely to cope, but to learn how God wanted me to handle this.
“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few hand-breaths and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as mere breath! Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you….Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears!” -Psalm 39:4-7, 12
“Create in me a clean heart, O God! Give me a steady, fresh spirit inside. Do not expel me from your presence. Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me! Bring back to me the joyful experience of your help. Prop me up – make me a willing obedient spirit.” -Psalm 51:10-12
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” -Isaiah 12:2David wrestled with God throughout the Psalms. The trickster, Jacob, literally wrestled with God’s angel (Genesis 32).
“Most of you probably don’t take very seriously what the Bible says about wrestling with angels, or about entertaining them unawares, maybe because most of you have never really been in a tight spot. But can you hear the Word of God about Jacob right now — you who gabble in the presence of God as we come to worship the Lord and who can sit with a slouch under the reading of the two-edged sword — can you hear what the Lord is saying? Come, fight with me! Ask me for what you need! Go ahead and say, “I will not let you go until You bless me!” (Seerveld) on Genesis 32
I was in a tight spot, but as I saw prayers for my peace being answered and my fears washed away by truth, my prayer decreased in desperation, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than may sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31) and with childish naivety, my prayers increased in boldness:
My God, my God! You who thunders in the heavens. My God, the God who flashed forth lighting and guided it into channels of the sea. The Almighty who spoke the world into being, You have promised to be a shield to me if I take refuge in You. You paid my debt and made me clean. So here I am, because of You, trusting in You. You heard our cries and took away my fears and gave me rest. Blessed be Your name for You are a merciful and loving God. I know I could be facing a year filled with inconveniences and discomforts. I know You have given me the shield of your salvation so I am not afraid. I promise that whatever this ultrasound reveals, I will praise Your name, but remember, my God, the rocks cannot praise You like I can! Preserve me in Your ways all the days of my life and don’t let me stumble. Don’t allow us to become a joke for unbelievers. (Psalm 18.)
Call to me and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know. -Jeremiah 33:3
The ultrasound tech couldn’t find any traces of the growth.
Over the last two weeks my pain has considerably lessened, I thought it was God answering our prayers for respite. Once again, my God has gone above and beyond my expectations. He gave me strength to face my fears with courage, but even more so, He preserved me from the trial of surgery and potentially a year of intervention and therapy. My God hears His people and answers.
I know it feels more sane to write this off as a fluke or mistake, but I felt the growth. Ben felt it. My doc felt it. It wasn’t hard to find, either! There was definitely something there and now it is gone. The Lord, my God, nodded assent and the cyst departed. I belong to the Lord and He is mine. I will not shrink back from praising Him and telling of the wonderful things He has done for me.
“Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols…Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants. Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the habitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare his praise in the coastlands. The Lord goes out like a mighty man, like a man of war he stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes.”