We’ll Know More Monday – Part 2

What If . . .  
 
 
Biopsy. Surgery. Those words lingered in my thoughts as we waited for the results.
 
We prayed. Our church, friends, and families all prayed.
 
While we waited for the follow-up appointment ­– set for Monday, one week after my colonoscopy screen ­– I buried myself in routine activities to avoid “what if” mind games.
 
What if the biopsy reveals cancer? What if the cancer isn’t contained? What if I waited too late for my screens and cost myself precious time? What if all the praying in the world doesn’t change the feared outcome? What if . . .  What if . . . What if . . .
 
The enemy loves to prey on our fears, doesn’t he? Waiting for important answers can leave us vulnerable to fear, doubt, and other attacks on our faith in God.
 
“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted to you.” (Mark 11:24-25, NASB)
 
While not promoting “name it and claim it” gospel, belief – trust – is essential. We must believe, place our trust in God, and hold on no matter how He answers our prayers.
 
 Just keep praying, believe and trust.
 
What if I chose to focus on the “right” what ifs? What if I trust Him with my fears and allow Him to comfort and strengthen me? What if my heart prays continually while my hands stay busy? What if I simply hold on and allow God to walk me through each step?
 
We’ll know more on Monday. Keep praying.
 
I fully expected to wait the whole week before learning the results of my biopsy, but God didn’t make me wait. Saturday, five days after the colonoscopy, my phone buzzed, the screen lit and flashed my brother’s number.
 
“Hey,” I said.
 
“Hey, there is someone here who wants to talk to you,” he said.
What? Who would be with my brother and want to talk to me? Out-of-town relative in for a visit? A former classmate?
“Mrs. Thomas . . .” I recognized the voice of the doctor, “. . . the biopsy results came back. It was benign – at least what I took in the office. We can’t be 100 percent sure until the pathology report is back after surgery, but so far everything looks good . . . I didn’t want you to have to wait until Monday to hear the good news.”
 
Yes! Praise the Lord!
           
Hope, relief, and awe washed over me. I received three gifts in that one phone call.

 The first gift came in the initial report – while I still faced surgery, the benign biopsy elevated my hope. Second, the shortened wait relieved the part of me still vulnerable to stress and worry. Third, I am in complete awe that a “chance” encounter with my brother on a weekend led to a personal call two days prior to my follow-up appointment. The details of that chance encounter – incredible as they are – reduce to this:  I received a personal call – not from my primary physician, but a specialist – on a Saturday from my brother’s phone. How does that happen except by the love of God through a caring doctor?

 
Wow.
 
           
We learned more during our Monday appointment. The doctor shared the size, location, and type of polyp as he pointed at images taken during the procedure. My husband and I listened as he shared and answered our questions, translating clinical terms for our benefit.
 
After a time, he paused. Looking over the rim of his glasses with gentle-but-serious eyes, he said, “Young lady, if you had put this off any longer, we would be having a totally different conversation. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when, this mass becomes cancerous. Based on my experience, this type tends to be the second most aggressive kind.”
 
Yikes.
 
Though optimistic, he reminded me of the needed post-surgery pathology report to know for sure.
 
Hope – I still have hope.
 
I had postponed the colonoscopy two years. With no obvious symptoms, ignoring the nagging within me came easy. While I needed the procedure, I dreaded the preparation required. One morning, as I showered and dressed for work, an emphatic message struck me, “Make an appointment with the doctor TODAY.” When I arrived at work, I called. That appointment led here.
 
What if I had chosen to ignore the nagging urge, again? What if my primary physician opted to start my health check with different tests?
 
The what ifs never stop, do they?
 
Before we left the doctor’s office, we secured a consultation appointment with the surgeon we selected. In another week, we’d know even more – confident in holding on, taking one step at a time.
 
On the drive home, I allowed myself to wonder: What if we hadn’t prayed?
             
 
 
(Editor’s note:  This is Part II of a three-part series – a personal account of recent experiences regarding a routine colonoscopy screen. You may read Part I at http://standfirmministries.com/well-know-more-monday-part-1/. I hope you’ll follow this series to its final installment, never postpone health screens, and find the courage to Hold­­_On no matter what you may be facing.)
 

 

Rita Halter Thomas is a staff writer for Prophecy Simplified, providing HOLD ON Stories to encourage you to hold on to your faith. She is a pastor’s wife and the mother of a college missions major.  She is also an award-winning writer, the founder of The Write Editor, http://thewriteeditor.com, and a former newspaper and magazine publisher with 23 years’ experience in print and digital media. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
 
  
 
 

Read more...

Lean In & Hold On

Despite the fullness in my stomach from a huge Christmas dinner, the aroma of buttered popcorn enticed me the second I opened the door to the theater. Deciding on drinks only, my family and I navigated the congested lobby in search of a place to wait for the movie we selected.

We arrived an hour early hoping to secure our favorite seats for an exhilarating 3D experience, so I searched for a place to sit until time for tickets to be collected.

To my surprise, I spotted a cushioned bench with just one occupant near the ticket receiving area. I smiled and sat down beside a woman with a walker – the kind my dad uses, with sturdy wheels and a built-in seat. Having already exchanged a friendly greeting outside as we sought to escape the penetrating cold, I leaned toward her and asked, “Have you had a great Christmas?”

She turned my way and said, “I believe this has been the best Christmas I have everhad.” I knew she meant it.
 “That’s awesome,” I said, noticing the covering on her head as she continued.

 “I’ve been really sick, but have been so blessed to have my sister living with me.”

 Leaning toward her again, I asked, “Chemo?”

 She nodded. “And radiation.” Sitting a bit taller, she proclaimed the completion of her tenth round of treatment.

 “I’m sorry you’ve had to endure so much,” I said. She nodded.

Then a boy about twelve years old approached, leaned over and wrapped his arms around the woman’s neck. He hugged her tight, rested his head on her
“My nephew. Such a good boy,” she said tilting her head toward him and patting his arms. My heart melted watching the warm exchange.

We introduced ourselves.

I sensed peace in Darlene as she openly shared her struggle. At first it was lung cancer, stage four, discovered when she couldn’t shake flu-like symptoms. Then, sometime after her treatments began, Darlene’s sister discovered her in the kitchen late one night, confused and saying things that made no sense. This time it was brain cancer.

I concluded her illness, not age, created the need for the walker. She was mature, but not elderly.

I listened, and marveled at the sweet spirit radiating from Darlene. Not an ounce of anger or bitterness. Not an ounce of self-pity. Not an ounce of fear. I sensed only wisdom, joy and contentment. And peace.

I leaned closer this time, shoulder to shoulder as if we were old friends, and said, “I’m sure you’ve had lots of people praying for you.” 

 “Oh, yes. The prayers of so many are the only reason I’ve been able to get through this. I am so blessed. God placed my sister in my house for a reason. To be there for me.”

I asked if she had a church family to surround her, but I knew before she answered.

Then I said, “May I ask where you go?”

Receiving her answer, I smiled. Not only do I know the location of her church, we have a mutual acquaintance who also attends. The idea of keeping up with Darlene’s progress filled my heart and settled well within my soul.

When the time came for Darlene to submit her movie ticket, I assured her my church and I would be praying for her. She thanked me, and switched her attention to the family surrounding her.

 As I watched Darlene part the crowd with her walker, I considered so many things.

 She blessed me by sharing her story, because her focus was not on her struggles but on her Savior. Peace. Confidence. Trust. Faith. She wins the fight no matter what the outcome because she knows where she is going. “It’s in God’s hands,” she said, “and it is His decision.”

 Complete surrender.

 Wow. I mean, WOW.

 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7, NIV)

Maybe you are fighting for your life, or walking this road with a loved one. Maybe anger consumes you because your diagnosis feels unfair. Maybe you don’t understand why you’re not responding to treatments, unlike others. Maybe the opposite is true. Maybe you wonder if God even hears your pleas. Perhaps your struggle is with something completely different, but you desire the peace Darlene carries.

Whatever your situation, I encourage you to allow your weakest moments to be a showcase of God’s incredible strength. Lean into Him. Lean in and hold on.

As God’s strength emanated from Darlene that day, I witnessed the “peace that transcends all understanding.” No wonder I kept leaning toward her.

His very presence, through her, drew me there.

 

(UPDATE: Please pray for Darlene. I understand she entered the hospital with pneumonia earlier this week. Thank you.)
 
 
Rita Halter Thomas is a staff writer for Prophecy Simplified, providing HOLD ON Stories to encourage you to hold on to your faith. She is a pastor’s wife and the mother of a college missions major.  She is also an award-winning writer, the founder of The Write Editor, http://thewriteeditor.com, and a former newspaper and magazine publisher with 23 years’ experience in print and digital media. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
 
  
 

Read more...