Cancer, Loss, and Suffering Well

In 2009, we learned that my mother had stage four breast cancer. After almost three years of treatments, and just before my son’s second birthday, she lost her battle on February 23, 2012.

On December 15, 2014, a very kind doctor told me that I also had breast cancer.

The good news was that my cancer was caught early. Although an aggressive type, my cancer was stage one. It was localized and treatable.

Through the years of cancer, loss, and more cancer, I can testify that what Satan means for evil, God means for good. He has used my circumstances to bring glory to Himself and to draw me and others closer to Him. I can tell you that He is ever faithful, even on the darkest of days.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. —Psalm 16:1-3

Are you in a season of suffering? Can I share with you some of the lessons that I have learned?

1) In seasons of suffering, our perspectives and priorities change.

When we can barely keep our heads above water, we discover what is really important. The psalmist said he would not fear even though the earth was falling apart around him. Rather than focusing on the shifting waters that threatened the mountains, the psalmist was looking to God, His refuge, the One who created both the mountain and the sea.

With God’s help, we can shift our perspective to see what God’s priorities are for us in this season of suffering. We can let go of burdens, but we can also let go of our need for control, of certain responsibilities, and of the clutter in our lives so that we can see what lessons God wants to teach us through our trials.

2) Learn to graciously accept help.

The body of Christ is a blessing to us at all times, and particularly in times of trouble. The Church is God’s tool for providing the help we need. I had to allow people to take over in my home, to care for my son, and to see me in the pajamas I had been wearing for three days straight. I am very independent, and found myself in a position of not being able to do the things that I normally enjoy doing.

This is exactly what the local church is for. We are to meet the needs of others as we have the opportunity and means to help. We need one another! Then, I was the one needing help. Today, I am in a position that I can provide help and support for others.

3) This is an opportunity to trust God.

God is always growing our faith and conforming us to the image of Jesus. The psalmist said, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” According to Miriam-Webster, refuge means “shelter or protection from danger or distress.” He uses the trials of our lives, and the suffering we encounter, to draw us into His protection. That is when He can mold us to be like Jesus, who also suffered through betrayal, loss of friends, false imprisonment, beatings, and death on a cross.

God’s grace to us in suffering is one of the greatest blessings of our Christian walks. He never leaves us to suffer alone. The psalmist comforts us that God is a “present help” when we face suffering. He is always near to us, whether He moves our mountain out of the way or enables us to cross over it.

If you are in a season of suffering today, I encourage you to look to the Lord. Even if the very earth you walk on falls away, He will be your refuge and help. Lean into His sheltering arms. Reach out to other believers. Allow God to mold you to be more like Him.

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About the Author

Beth Holmes

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Beth Holmes wears many titles, but being a follower of Christ is the most important and sets all of the others in line. She is the mom of Henry, a first grader, and the wife of Chris, a minister in Owensboro, KY, where they have lived for the last ten years. Originally from a small town in Tennessee, she is a writer, pianist, cancer survivor, book lover, gardener, and coffee drinker.

Comments 1

  1. Beth, thank you for this beautiful message. Even though the tears are still coming for me, His grace has been, is and will be sufficient for me.

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