Surrendering Isn’t for Sissies
Often times when we hear the word “surrender” we think of a white flag drawn to show defeat. However, I am learning in my relationship with the Lord surrender is a sign of strength. And after a tough week in the hospital, I have never been more certain that surrendering isn’t for sissies.
Surrendering my plans, hopes, and fears to God over the last many months has been a difficult process. These three categories carry some of my deepest emotions, and I have been hesitant to let go of my perceived control of them. Yet, I am learning that as I surrender these issues to the Lord, He is sustaining me in ways I could have never imagined and teaching me to trust Him more completely.
Surrendering My Plans
On New Year’s Eve shortly after my second surgery I received a much-anticipated call from my oncologist’s office. The nurse informed me that my operation had uncovered no additional malignant cells. I was so elated and overjoyed that I burst into happy tears. What an amazing way to ring in 2010, and what a weight lifted from Jared’s and my shoulders.
Incredibly relieved and encouraged by our good news, Jared and I planned a vacation to Florida to celebrate and escape the Chicago cold. We solidified our plans and began dreaming of walks on the beach, lazy afternoons, and beautiful sunsets. Eleven days later our vacation dreams, not to mention our plans, were shattered.
I received a voice mail from my surgeon stating she needed to “discuss the pathology reports” with me. The minute I heard her voice, I couldn’t shake the ominous feeling. Jared did his best to assure me that she may just be calling to confirm the good news; my woman’s intuition told me otherwise.
I waited an entire day to hear from her again and tried my best to keep myself grounded in Scripture. When we finally connected, my fears were confirmed: the clean bill of health I had received on New Year’s Eve was a mistake caused by a communication mix-up. The second surgery had uncovered a cancer cell outside the ovary I had removed. Ten weeks of chemotherapy was not just an option, it was a must.
To say we were shocked and deflated couldn’t be more of an understatement. The turn of events felt like a cruel joke. I kept saying, “This is not fair that I have to trade in my beach vacation for chemotherapy.”
I sobbed all night and admittedly swore a bit too (not exactly a response overflowing with the fruits of the Spirit). I knew underneath my anger was deep hurt and a sense of betrayal. How could God let this happen? I remember saying, “God, are you here? Because it sure doesn’t feel like it.” In this moment, I certainly didn’t understand God’s ways.
But in His gentle way, God kept bringing this verse back to mind:
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8, 9).
Despite my bewilderment, I was well aware I needed to continue trusting what I knew to be true: that God was infinitely good and present in my situation. I did have a choice in one of my darkest hours. I could allow myself be overcome by what I felt, or I could lay my difficulty at God’s feet and allow Him to provide me with the strength to work through it.
In various ways over the last couple of months—mostly small, but amazingly meaningful and personal to me—God has revealed that He is working, albeit sometimes behind the scenes. I don’t know how He is going to use this cancer journey in the future, but He is sustaining me moment by moment. He has and continues to use people’s words, thoughtful gifts, the sunshine, verses from Scripture, and so many other ways to reveal His presence and encourage me amidst my trial.
It reminds me of the passage in Exodus 33:14, 15 when God told Moses:
“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And Moses responded, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here [to the Promised Land].”
I’ve told that to God several times during the last few months. “Please don’t send me on this chemo road if You don’t go with me. I just couldn’t bear it. But if this is Your plan for me, I trust that I can do this because You will go with me and give me rest.”
This cancer journey has and continues to give me a greater understanding of surrender. It encompasses laying down my plans for what I thought I needed or the life I envisioned, and trusting my Father to take my life in the direction He feels is best. He is teaching me to trust in the goodness of His love and provision even when my circumstances may try to persuade me otherwise.
What about you? Where is God asking you to surrender and relinquish your plans and trust Him? Although it’s not an easy process, He will show you how to find rest even in painful moments by surrendering your ideal plans to His sovereign plans. But rest assured, surrendering isn’t for sissies.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.
“Plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
Plans to give you a hope and a future.’”
During this cancer journey, I have also had to surrender my hopes regarding fertility and my fears regarding further complications with my treatment. God has graciously carried me through these obstacles as well and I will share those parts of my story in my next post.