The doctor leaned across his desk as his pen lay on the paper in front of him. With wells of kindness in his eyes he informed me as gently as possible that I had an aggressive type of skin cancer.
As he stepped out of the room to call his oncologist friend to make an appointment for me yet that afternoon, the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis began to settle over me. I was in Nicaragua, where I had been working as a nurse the last number of months, physically alone- except for this doctor and my own thoughts that were rapidly becoming a turmoil of all kinds of emotions. Visiting the oncologist that afternoon made it clear that my best option was to take the next available one way ticket to the States (the only option at the time due to COVID), and receive further treatment there. The questions were many and the future frighteningly uncertain…
The thoughts, wonderings, questions and disappointment of it all rolled over and over in my mind and often I would sob into my pillow at night or suddenly burst into a flood of tears while talking with someone. I longed for rest both for my physical body and my inner turmoil, but many of the questions remained and still remain unanswered. I said I believed that God knew what He was doing, but my heart struggled to rest in the sovereignty of God. Where could I find rest in all this mess and unknown?
Several days after my diagnosis I realized when I opened my Bible to read it that the words swam uncomprehended before my eyes; I was seeking solace, but how? I began listening to the audio Bible and heard verses about the greatness, goodness and sovereignty of God. As I journeyed uncertainly on, my very small faith began to cling to these promises as I searched for rest. Through tearful prayers God’s peace and comfort came to my heart.
Isaiah 40 became a go-to passage as I cried out to God: “Hast thou not known?…that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength…v.31- They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Psalm 18:30: “As for God, His way is perfect…He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.” I am being offered a choice in all this. The Word is filled with God’s promises. Will I choose to believe His promises or to go on struggling and doubting His sovereignty and ways?
Many times the steps of faith are ever so small. I fail. I question God. At times I doubt God really knows what He is up to. I cry out for forgiveness for my unbelief and place my life in His hands over and over.
Uncertainty continues to be part of my daily and moment-by-moment journey. Repeat scans to monitor the progression/regression of my cancer are every 4 months. As I look at my life it is easy to feel that God has placed me into an out of the way place, yet God doesn’t change. He continues as the same kind, loving and gracious God He was before I ever received my cancer diagnosis. I continue to cry out to Him for more faith, trust and rest and He many times gives me gifts that help to increase my faith. I am finding deep rest in the reality that God is more than I can or will ever be able to comprehend and that he will carry me even when the path ahead looks rough, steep and uncertain.
About the Author:
Sarah Kauffman has lived in three different communities other than where she was raised and most recently Nicaragua. She enjoys learning from others, building relationships, and finding beauty in the simple, everyday areas of life. She has found this to be even more true since her journey with cancer that began in August of 2020 and counts each day as a gift from God.