When Cancer Strikes

Doug and his family at his recent birthday celebration

My husband’s brother Doug has a brain tumor. He had surgery right before Christmas to remove half of the softball-sized mass, which doctors are calling stage 4 glioblastoma. He began radiation and chemotherapy treatments this week. Doug is 59 years old. He has a lovely wife Betty and three precious daughters, Stacey, Stephanie, and Sally. He’s a brilliant engineer who works on aerospace technologies. And he has cancer.

It’s amazing how life slows down when you hear words like “cancer”. We walked around in a numbed state for days after we learned the diagnosis. Sometimes, life just doesn’t make sense. In an instant, you move beyond the ordinary routines of daily living, and you find yourself engulfed by the mysterious, unpredictable elements of life this side of heaven.

Although we are in the early stages of this journey, the Lord has taught me a great deal already.

We don’t have to figure it out

At times like these, I’m so glad there is Someone wiser, stronger, and more capable than me in charge of the universe. I don’t have to figure everything out because the Lord already has the world in His loving and competent hands.

I’m choosing not to focus on the “Why” of this season; instead, I’m trying to look at the “Who”—the Lord who is over it all. We have a sweet history together, and He is the same God during this season (and after it) as He was before it. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8  ) The Lord is faithful, loving, compassionate, and gracious, and He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond anything we can ask or think (Lamentations 3:21-24 ; Ephesians 3:20).

Once, when I was much younger, I went to talk with my mom about something that was really bothering me. It was as if I went to her and handed her that broken part of my life, asking her to fix it. A strange thing happened during that conversation. I found my focus moving off the problem and onto her. I felt better just being with her. The problem didn’t hold me in that vice grip of panic any longer because I was with someone who loved me deeply. I was safe.

The Lord is teaching me to do the same with Him. He’s the strong tower I can run to and be safe (Proverbs 18:10). “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1, NASB). My problems dim in the light of His presence. He’s the greater reality over every crisis, fear, discouragement, and uncertainty. He is God. I don’t have to figure everything out. I can choose to just rest in Him. I can let God be God.

We can fight the good fight of faith

The scriptures refer to faith as a fight (1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7). It’s not a casual undertaking. Faith is forged in the crucible of life where we decide if we are going to believe God—who He is and what He says about Himself and us. We can choose to dig our heels into our position in Christ and the victory He has won for us (Ephesians 6:13; Romans 8:37). We can wield the sword of His Word against the enemy’s lies and tactics (Ephesians 6:17). We can learn from the Holy Spirit how to fight the enemy in the battles of life (Judges 3:1-2). It can be exhausting at times, but our faith grows in the process. In the end, the Lord can even use those faith-building experiences of ours to bless others (Luke 22:32).

We can choose to praise God

Why choose to praise God in the midst of difficulty? We don’t praise Him for the difficulty. We praise Him for who He is in the midst of it, and for His ability to work out His plans for our good and His glory. Personally, I’ve found that praising God gives me a better perspective; it helps me refocus on the Lord and the fact that He always has a plan. I can’t always see His plan, but He does. He accomplishes His plans, and the scriptures tell us His plans are good, acceptable, and perfect (Romans 12:2).  He is always at His work, and we can praise Him for that (John 5:17). He promises He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28, NASB). We may not know what that particular “good” is, but He does. We can praise Him for being able to do that.

This past Christmas, a friend of mine gave me a bracelet that says “HOPE”. I’m wearing it a lot these days. The biblical definition of hope is a confident expectation. In other words, in the midst of it all, we put our confident expectation in the Lord, that He has everything under control, that He takes care of us and those we love, that He has a plan. Job, who encountered a great deal of suffering in his life, said, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13:15, NASB). Our Lord is the God of hope (Romans 15:13). We can praise Him for that.

We are in the early part of our journey with Doug’s cancer. We sure would appreciate your prayers for him and his family. We don’t know where this road will take us, but we know Who is walking alongside us. He continues to set our hearts on fire as we walk and talk with Him (Luke 24:32). I’m discovering as we walk this road together that He is not just part of our lives. He is our life, and He makes the journey so beautiful because He is there.

Question: What journey are you walking with the Lord, and how can we pray for you? Comment at the link below.


Hebrews 13:8; Lamentations 3:21-24 ; Ephesians 3:20; Proverbs 18:10; Psalm 46:1; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7; Ephesians 6:13; Romans 8:37; Ephesians 6:17; Judges 3:1-2; Luke 22:32; Romans 12:2; John 5:17; Romans 8:28; Job 13:15; Romans 15:13; Luke 24:32

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