This is a guest post by Leslie, who shares how God enabled her sisters’ battles with cancer to bring her and her family into a deeper relationship with Him, to let go of fear, to experience joy amidst sorrow, and to trust in His plan and purpose for our lives. Her story shares how God transformed her From Heartbroken to Hopeful.
I grew up in a loving Christian home and felt the Lord’s presence throughout my entire life. I can’t remember a time when I felt like I was NOT a Christian. I didn’t have the “lightning bolt” experience that many refer to when they were saved; therefore, I’m not going to talk to you about how I BECAME a Christian, but how I have GROWN to know the Lord better. I have had some experiences that taught me valuable lessons about how God is working in my life and how He wants me to trust in Him. I have also witnessed others’ experiences that taught me how important it is to trust and praise Him during good times and bad.
Within four years, two of my sisters passed away after long battles with cancer, and my father also passed away due to pulmonary fibrosis. All three of their deaths left me feeling helpless and heartbroken. Even though I was a Christian and had faith, spending time with God was not part of my daily routine. I didn’t understand the importance of daily praise and thanksgiving even when I was NOT going through a trial. I would turn to God selfishly only in times of need.
During the heartbreaking years of my sisters’ journeys with cancer, I was always sad and would randomly cry in public places. I couldn’t focus to the point that I would do crazy things like only wear one earring or forget to shave one leg! I couldn’t sleep and was constantly stressed about news I might hear about my sisters. I became scared to even answer the phone or listen to my voicemail for fear that I may hear bad news. I lived in fear and sadness.
One day, God brought me to the realization that this fear and sadness were not going to change my circumstances and that I needed to give it to Him to handle. I couldn’t do it on my own. Through witnessing my sisters’ unwavering faith and positive attitudes while fighting for their lives, I was able to follow their example, begin to rely on Him, and put my trust in Him.
After my sister Lisa’s diagnosis, she said she was excited to see how God was going to work in her life! She told me that she welcomed adversity because it is in those periods of her life that she “sees and hears” God more! My prayers for her had been only for one thing – healing! She had a completely different outlook – from her perspective she was a winner if she “beat the cancer” but also a winner if God took her home! I was amazed by her steadfast faith. While fighting for her life, she absorbed herself in God’s word daily by reading the Bible and devotionals and listening to Christian sermons and music. She told me that when she was feeling attacked she would envision putting on her spiritual armor so she could face anything.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
My other sister, Cheryl, told me how God is creating something beautiful using all things – good as well as bad. She told me to picture God weaving a tapestry using beautiful, vibrant colors as well as dark, unattractive colors. Under this tapestry is where all the tangled, messy, leftover threads hang and the final product is on the other side. God sees the beautiful creation – the top of the tapestry – but we only see underneath it – the mess that of tangled threads that doesn’t make sense until we are able to see it from the other side. I learned to trust that God has a perfect purpose for our lives although at times we may not understand exactly what that purpose is.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
Days before Lisa passed away she shared with the family a vision she had where she saw the face of God. At that time her lungs were filling with fluid and she had great difficulty breathing. During her “visit” with God, she was able to breathe effortlessly! She found herself in a beautiful place and was not in pain or afraid. She emphasized to us that she was not dying, but going from LIFE TO LIFE! This vision was truly a gift from God that confirmed that there is everlasting life for those who believe in Him.
God continued to bless me during this difficult time. He blessed me with my husband and the birth of my son. He allowed my Dad to be present for these two events. He enabled me to experience joy amidst my sadness and allow happiness to shine over what was a very dark time in my life. I sometimes felt guilty laughing or feeling happy about anything when my sisters were dying because it didn’t seem right. God showed me it was okay for joy and sorrow to co-exist.
Now, when I find myself starting to worry, I absorb myself in God’s word and find that I feel stronger and have more peace. I have learned to trust that God will handle my circumstances, even if it is not in the way I want! I just need to seek Him and I “hear” His voice. God speaks to me in many ways, but my favorite way to hear His voice is through song lyrics. God’s Word can be reinforced by constantly repeating a message while singing. “If My People Pray” by Avalon resonated with me during difficult times and to this day still touches me.
I still experience worry and stress, but I have learned to rely on God by giving Him my stresses and asking for His guidance. He gives me confirmations by allowing me to hear a message repeatedly through devotional readings, sermons, songs, or just private thoughts. God is good! He wants us to have joy in times of sorrow, He wants us to lean on Him when we are worried and weak, and he assures us that He will make something beautiful out of the broken areas in our lives.
If you would like to reach out to Leslie, you can leave a comment below or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have a story you would like to share, please email me with “Broken to Beautiful” in the subject line and I will follow up with you. Thank you.