As believers, I’m afraid we often take prayer lightly, enter into it mindlessly, and as a result leave it unaffected. At least I know I’m guilty of that.
But when life’s journey takes you into the shadow of His ways, the right to come boldly before God – to enter His very presence as His child – becomes both a precious privilege and a powerful experience.
So before leaving home the morning of surgery, Mike and I read some Scripture and prayed together. Before leaving the waiting area at the hospital, friends and family who chose to get up before 5 am and meet us there prayed for us. And then before leaving the prep area, the surgeon prayed with us. (Having a renowned surgeon who believes in the power of prayer is a real gift!)
My goal throughout this whole experience has been to keep my thoughts fixed on my God who is bigger and stronger than anything I can ever face. So from the time we left home that morning until the anesthesia took over, I kept returning my focus to God’s infinite love, His grace, His presence – instead of what was going on around me or what was being done to me. In other words, I was actively claiming the promise of Isaiah 41:10,
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Now I didn’t do this perfectly. Because although I felt calm enough, my blood pressure was fairly elevated at one point. But no pre-medication was needed, and I attribute that fact to staying focused on God’s promises and the effect of the prayers of others.
Surgery went well, and we were back home by 11:00 that morning.
With that behind us, the next item of prayer was that the margins of the excision be clear and the lymph nodes near the surgical site be negative for cancer.
We were told to expect the pathology report about a week after surgery, but it actually wasn’t available until this past Friday, nine days later. And it wasn’t everything we prayed for.
Margins were clear and lymph nodes were negative… except for “isolated tumor cells.”
Of course, we were initially deflated with the report, even though we don’t understand the implications of this finding. And we won’t, until our follow-up appointment this next Wednesday.
So, at that point we had a choice.
We could focus on that phrase, “isolated tumor cells,” and worry and be anxious about what this may mean for us going forward… or we can return our focus to our Lord. Because we know from experience that when He’s in the forefront of our mind and heart, whatever circumstances fill the background always appear less ominous.
So we’re actively choosing to believe and practice, “do not fear, for I am with you… do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God,” rather than cave in to the enemies of worry, fear, and anxiety.
Maintaining a disciplined mind is not magic. It’s a simple choice.
But if we don’t actively and continually guard our thoughts and see that we choose well when it comes to what we’re focusing on, we suffer.
When we allow ourselves to drift into “this is not how I want things to be” territory, we are guaranteed to lose the mental, emotional, and spiritual battle.
Knowing that, by the grace of God we’re continuing to choose to leave any and all concerns with Him while we journey through this valley. Because He is sufficient for them. We are not.
And we’re praying for grace to fully submit to His will and plan and for faith to fully trust Him in the middle of it all.
One more thing…
Today is my birthday.
But because I’m still recuperating with a drain tube that prohibits doing just about everything but sitting on the couch with my laptop, this birthday doesn’t look or feel like a typical birthday.
And that’s okay. This is a unique aspect of my story and it’s precious to me in its own way.
Besides, the greatest birthday gift I could possibly receive is mine already… I am His and I am loved.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity…? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. (Romans 8:35, 37)