While singing “It Is Well With My Soul” in church today, I was struck deep within by a truth I’ve always believed but maybe have not understood: it truly is well with my soul. My recent diagnosis has made me cling to what this means and accept what it does not mean. Jesus died for me not so I could have a chance to live a long, prosperous, healthy life on earth; he died for me so that when I accepted his gift, my soul became impenetrable to the scary things of this world—evil intentions, disease and even death.
Paul said, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Don’t get me wrong, I am not ready for that “gain” yet and I’m planning to fight like crazy to stay around. But I think that it is important for me to remember that Jesus’ salvation and his promises do not guarantee me safety or health or healing. Now, do I believe that God could choose to glorify himself by healing me completely? Absolutely! And do I pray that is how he will choose to use me? You bet! I would LOVE that:-) I also believe, however, that he could choose to glorify himself as I battle it out with breast cancer. After all, Paul wrote Philippians 1:21 from prison and ended up being martyred for his faith—and his writings and life are a huge arrow pointing directly to our heavenly father.
I am not equating myself with Paul, but I am trying to follow his example. I do not want my praise for my Lord or my faith in his power to waver when things get hard. I have not mastered this by any means. As I write this, I am desperately trying not to succumb to fear about my MRI results. I do not want to become a cynic and give into the belief that the worst possible news is inevitable. I want hope and joy to be my legacy, but I also want everyone to know that my hope and joy are centered on Christ and what he has done for me. There is NOTHING I can do to make my cancer go away. Whether God heals me miraculously, through medical intervention or not at all, He is the one who is in control. This is so hard to accept as I desperately want to do something that will make a difference in the outcome: pray harder, believe stronger, prove myself more thoroughly somehow. But accepting that I am in the hands of the One who sees the big, eternal picture is the only way to have it be well with my soul.
I say all this because in the last few days Ryan and I have been overwhelmed and humbled by all the love you all have shown us. You have poured love and comfort over us as you have taken up our burden and lifted our family up in prayer. But we have also been filled with compassion for those out there who do not have the comfort and assurance of Jesus’ salvation. I know it is hard to accept that salvation through Jesus Christ does not come with the reassurance that things will turn out how we want them to on earth, but it does come with the promise that has been like water to my drowning spirit: “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deut. 31:8).
May you all feel peace and comfort tonight whatever your circumstances are. May you all be able to rest in the arms of the Lord who loves you desperately. May it be well with your souls.