*this post was originally written december 29, 2009
maybe it is the pollyanna in me that silently hopes that God’s Peace is so potent that pain is unable to stand in it’s presence. (we know God is powerful enough the make that happen if He chooses, but His ways are higher than our’s.) through a painful (both spiritually, physically, and mentally) lesson in november i gained new respect for a Peace that stands firm in the middle of the pain.
here is my story…
as many of you know i had a softball size mass and two ribs removed from my chest in early november. doctors were never showed concern for what the mass might be, but it was time for it to be removed. the surgery was much more that i imagined and a possible 2-5 day hospital stay turned into 7 grueling days and six sleepless nights. it was at the end of this week that the doctor came in to my room with news i never expected to hear.
i should have known something was coming, he was super serious and he brought his right hand woman with him. she immediately shut the door. i guess there is no way to prepare and i was thankful he got to the point. “well, i have some bad news,” he said. my mouth produced a weak “okay,” but my heart sank as my mind had plenty of things to say. he proceeded to share with me that my pathology had come back stopping just short of calling my mass cancer. they didn’t feel comfortable ruling out cancer and it seemed my doctor was convinced that it was. my first reaction was gratefulness that God had prompted me to get it out, but that’s all i could voice. meanwhile, my handsome doctor had plenty to say. he went on and on about how he didn’t get large enough margins for a cancer growth and that if they didn’t get a definitive pathology back proving it was benign, i was in for another chest wall dissection and would lose two more ribs. that, i couldn’t wrap my mind around. he explained to me that my slides would be sent for a second pathology and he would let me know as soon as he heard something. from that friday night until i left sunday afternoon, he treated as if i had cancer. malignancy was the mindset that filtered his words and actions. he seemed certain, although i did get him to agree to a slight chance of it coming back benign. the pathology report wouldn’t come back for two more weeks.
now, i fully expected to crumble a bit and waiver in this news, but all i felt was an unexplainable peace. this peace came not from encouraging words from friends or family, nor did it come from my own strength. the peace of God that coursed through my veins was delivered and reaffirmed thorough a passage He so divinely gave me a week before surgery.
i knew going into this surgery that it was God’s Will, but i needed peace. i begged and pleaded for a scripture promise of peace from Him, but it never came. after a week of constantly seeking and quite frankly combing the Word for peace scriptures He gave me one that nailed my heart. i didn’t need a verse of peace to make it through, what He showed me in ephesians 2:14 is that “He Himself is our Peace.” yes peace scriptures are amazing, but He wanted me to rest in the fact that He was all i needed!
this verse was written across my bathroom mirror and i prayed many times aloud as the surgery date approached, but honestly i was still worried. so, we had a heart to heart. i confessed to Him that He should be enough for me to trust through this trial, but i needed Him to help me with my unbelief. i shared with Him that this verse did bring me peace, but it didn’t really say everything was going to be “okay”. again my inner pollyanna thought she needed to know everything would wrap up neatly in a bow. He had spoken to me, but i still longed to know it would all turn out fine. my Spirit knew ephesians 2:14 was enough, but my flesh cried out for more. i had no clue that when He gave me Psalm 91 that day in my quiet time, what a blanket of Peace it would become in the two weeks of waiting.
here is psalm 91…please read all the way down to verse 16.
Psalm 91 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling— even the LORD, who is my refuge- 10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
GLORY! during two weeks where physical pain was intense and the very real possibility of cancer and another surgery loomed, all i felt was His gentle Peace. both pain and Peace were present, but His constant Peace ruled. i tried to memorize as much of psalm 91 as a drugged patient could, but one way or another (i.e. the Bible or even a personalized necklace from a friend) those words were always near.
i am convinced those Words would have never spoken so clearly if the pain weren’t so near. His Peace didn’t remove me to a lala land of fairies and flowers, it just gently pierced through each present moment and gripped my heart. i can honestly say that the two weeks of the most intense physical pain i have ever known and the “what if’s” of a bad pathology, were two of the most peaceful weeks i have ever experienced. what i couldn’t produce in myself, he brought beyond measure.
fast forward two weeks, (with not one call concerning pathology) we head to nashville for my followup. i wasn’t nervous, instead i felt Him reminding me that true faith was trusting Him no matter what the report read. sitting in the parking lot before we entered… again Peace.
when i finally got to my doctor and asked to please share the results, i just knew… this time it would be okay. the test came back benign, but with note that some of the cells were starting to change. (oh, how His persistence of surgery made sense, and how thankful i was for the still, small voice.)
i have no idea why i was spared when so many suffer with this horrific disease, but His ways are not our ways. i simply stand in gratitude! the thing is, it wasn’t the peak of this experience that changed me, it was the two week journey there. i am changed forever because i know that when my world is shaking and seeming out of control, my Holy God is still present. He may not bring everything to a perfect calm, but He can teach me through Peace IN the storm.
so where does this find you? is your life right now a place of firm footing or do you feel the bottom has just dropped out? let me encourage you that wherever you are in the journey, if you are His child, He is with you… and His Peace reigns supreme in the pain.