My sister was just recently diagnosed with kidney cancer. While a cancer diagnosis is never easy news, it seemed especially heavy, as my dad’s early passing from cancer was still fresh in all of our minds. It was a pretty fall day that turned strangely gray as I got the call of her news.
Once the surgery date was scheduled, I planned to travel to be there with my family about three hours away in Pennsylvania. While they are not professed believers, I realized that among my relatives, most especially my mom, there would be a great deal of worry and anxiety. I had planned and hoped to be a light of faithful reassurance for my sister.
My Plans Were Not His
However, as the day of surgery approached, I couldn’t understand or explain the feeling that I shouldn’t go there. I couldn’t understand why my husband was also getting the same feeling. I began to pray to God and expressed that we believed what we were “feeling” was from Him, and that I understood that I shouldn’t be going. I asked Him to please give me a clear sign to know if that was wrong, and to redirect me to go — as I desired to do. Yet, to my confusion, I continued to sense more and more clearly that I was not to be going.
Isaiah 55:8 confirms that my thoughts are not His, and I admit I did not understand His direction on this! My desire to go was with loving intention toward my sister and relatives and a willingness to share the gospel with them at such an important time for us all. I had a willing heart, which I believed would please Him. Yet my willing heart — even with good intention —was not aligned with His will.
A Dynamic Shift, For a Time As This
The morning of the surgery, I stood in my kitchen and stared at my phone as my mom texted me that my sister was being wheeled into surgery. A lump grew in my throat and my heart started beating harder. Had I missed it? Had I missed a critical opportunity to be with her? To share Jesus with her?
And then something broke through my own anxious heart — a voice telling me to praise Him. I honestly second guessed what I was hearing, but what I believe to be the Holy Spirit’s prompting pressed in even harder, and I looked at my 9-year-old son eating his breakfast and told him, “We are going to praise God for what He is about to do for Aunt Maria.” I put on Chris Tomlin’s “How Great is Our God” and sung it at the top of my lungs (potentially not to the delight of my neighbors). As I did so, and the joy rushed over me, I felt the tears welling up in my eyes and I realized that this was exactly where I was supposed to be. I wouldn’t have been permitted to be worshipping and singing loudly in a surgical waiting room — and perhaps I was the only one of my relatives who would have even considered worshipping the God who permitted the cancer. I realized simply, that I had been prepared and kept in place for an exact purpose, for such a time as this.
His Glory Revealed
My sister’s surgery was a success. But even more astounding was when the doctor came back to her a week later and said that the biopsy revealed that it was never cancer after all. They “strangely” had misdiagnosed the now confirmed “benign” mass.
God had me in place that very day to act as perhaps the only one who could hear that this was a cause for celebration – even as she was being wheeled into surgery. Hands up, arms raised, tears of joy running down my face, my praise was the pleasing sound to the Great Physician, as He leaned down and cured my sister’s cancer.
Joanna Sanders is a graduate of Villanova University and Moody Theological Seminary. She’s also the founder and head writer of Colossians46.com, which provides biblical content support, writing, and editing. Most importantly, she is wife to Geoff and mom to three godly men-in-training. Her blog name “The Landing” comes from the account of the Ark resting on the mountain, creating a settled place — a landing — for man to start over, which echoes her new life in Christ.