Many of you who have been following my blog would have realised that i tend to blog alot about my Christian walk. Although I do journal in a book most of the time, I tend to blog aloud what I’m going through, with the hope of unraveling God’s greater purpose at that point. I also blog after I experience God’s wonder and make sense of a part of His awe on earth in my little life. Well this entry in particular is about the latter and can run a little longer than usual.
Faith has always been a foreign dish on my Christian plate. Intellectually I understood what it is. Experiential-wise, I hold onto hope but hardly have the faith to see things change outside of my own human experience and understanding.
It all happened when my dad decided in Nov 2007 that everybody in the family should go for a blood test. If somebody hasn’t told you already, I would encourage you to go get an insurance policy to cover you in case a result requires you to go for further medical tests and treatments. Because of my history with endometriosis (surgery to remove ovarian cyst in 2002), my blood test included CA12.5, which tests for ovarian tumour activity (the higher the results, the higher the chances of cancer, since the indicator picks up cell division and cancerous cells form very quickly). When it ran a little higher than normal, my doctor suggested that I go back to my gynaecologist for further check up.
That check up led to almost a year long of follow ups. Every 3 months, I went for a scan but nothing seems to show up. Although blood results kept going higher activity, nothing was showing up on the scan. On occasion, an ovary can appear much larger than it should (one can appear 7 times larger than the other side’s), yet disappear at the next check up. This is perfectly normal as some cysts tend to clear up after a period cycle. The only time that I really felt something was wrong was when I experienced great pains during one of my period mid 2008, where I had to take 2 Panadol Menstrual 3 times in a day, and bear with the pain for about 1 – 2 hrs. I couldn’t walk and could only stay crunched up at my work place’s couch, then at home. Still nothing quite showed up.
Until that faithful day where I decided to take that step of faith and really really ask God for His healing. I decided to go for a scan again the very day I was to go off to Pulau Ubin for our small group retreat, in the hope of giving Him thanks that very day.
Actually I pretty much decided sometime before that that God either will heal or knows in advance who He wants to heal. Why do I have to seek so earnestly? Isn’t He my good provider, giver of life? Surely He already knows that I want healing. I mean who doesn’t want it, right? Besides, diseases and illnesses are part and parcel of this cursed earth. So even at a healing service (Nov 2007?), I didn’t think it necessary to ask Him for healing, whereas the boyfriend did, and got his knee healed. I was brought to awareness of my own unbelief on an encounter on a bus (mid 2007), where I saw a man with Thoracic outlet Syndrome, whom I really sensed God asking me to go pray with him for healing (we even got off at the same stop) but I was gutless. I daren’t expect instantaneous results for a man suffering from obvious symptoms, what more ask for healing for something within me.
Back to the small group retreat at Pulau Ubin. I have this way of trying to preempt whatever God will do so I was really dashed when after a scan on the day itself, I learnt that there is a tumour 6 – 7cm in size in my left ovary this time. I had 2 choices then – to go through the retreat sulky, disappointed in Him, or praise Him anyway.
Here’s where it’s no fun having to lead a small group. It took me quite a bit to share with my small group honestly how I am feeling – faithless, upset, and completely not in a thanksgiving mood. Why would I? My ovary could be cancerous. Doctor said if it’s bad, my ovary may need to go. If it’s worse, my whole reproductive system has to go. So much for being a woman who still hasn’t utilised her reproductive system for its sole purpose. After all, it did puzzle my doctors a bit how a tumour of that size could appear within a span of 3 months. I took a blood test again and await with bated breath. My doctor didn’t think the tumour activity will go down.
The love that my small group friends gave me came in the form of rebuke. So much for love!!! Except that at that point in time, I didn’t realise it IS love. Just not the way I perceive it should be. I knew they are right. Intellectual, I know all that stuff. Just that they gave me no room to feel sorry for myself even for a moment. Give thanks to the Lord in all our circumstances for we KNOW for certain that He is good, and all His situations are under control. I know that alright, I just wasn’t feeling it nor seeing it that way. In love, everybody prayed for me and His peace took over me. Although faint and tired, I was sedated by my tears and His peace.
That night I went to bed, and took captive every single negative thought that kept trying to take over my mind until I fell asleep in exhaustion.
The next morning, God spoke to me through my devotional:
Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Acho] a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD. – Hosea 2:14-20 (emphasis mine)
That was my cue that He will keep my ovaries intact and by that I naturally assumed that meant no cancer. A call came from the doctor that morning and my blood report came back with decreased tumour activity. Confirmation number one.
I decided to take the watch and wait approach. Wait another month to see if the ovary clears up on its own. As expected, it didn’t. A month later at the doctor’s, the scan shows the ovary still there, intact and same size. Talks of surgery came up again.
On a few points, my doctor first recommended a large incision to remove the cyst whole, instead of going for laparoscopy where keyhole-sized incisions are made to pierce and suck out the liquid in the tumour. Because of the fluctuating tumour activity, the sudden appearance of the tumour (rapid growth unusual), doctor cannot be completely certain it is non-cancerous. She gave is 90% of being benign.
Mum, being worried and all, immediately decided I should go for the bigger incision but I wasn’t convinced. At that point, vanity was high on being the issue. We decided to go for another blood test to see if we can pinpoint what it is before they cut me open. Two days later, the report came back with decreased tumour activity. Confirmation number two, and greater conviction that what God said about it being non-cancerous, about keeping my ovaries intact, seems to be coming true. With that, doctor gave it 95% of the tumour being benign but my parents were still adamant about not taking chances. By then, my rationale was completely in the league of God-said-it’s-not-cancerous-already-so-why-do-I-need-to-go-for-a-big-incision. The more I pronounced and spoke of His healing, the greater faith I had in that truth.
I went through a brief spell of being upset, for certain. Of blaming my work place for the load of work they pile on me. Of the stress in many areas of my life and I didn’t know how to cope. But I got to a place knowing that I had to go through this and I will emerge in a better place, because God is with me through it all.
I was calm in the days leading up the surgery. For many who have gone through worse, this is probably no biggie but you and I have different levels of gut. I know I’m quite a scaredy-cat when such things take over. Even in the hospital, I had to tell my mum and grandma that Jesus already told me it’s ok, it’s not cancerous, and I needn’t worry. And they would see the goodness of Jesus when I come out from the operating theatre certain that the tumour isn’t cancerous. And it wasn’t.
I remembered a prayer I used to say, in one of those moments deep in intercession for my family who still don’t know Christ. That it really doesn’t matter what He does with my life, as long as it brings them to Him. He really hears every single word we utter and remembers them.
As the year comes to a close, I recount the numerous times God has spoken to me about Joshua, and calling me to be bold and courageous (Joshua 1:8), just like Joshua when he crossed the river from Egypt into the Promised Land of abundance. On Oct 12, 10 days after my surgery, there was a sermon in church on being the Living Stone for Christ, based on this verse:
“4Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. 5And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, 6that this may be a sign among you.(A) When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?‘ 7then you shall tell them that(B) the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel(C) a memorial forever.” Joshua 4:4-7 (emphasis mine)
Because of this journey of faith, I have picked up a stone of truth, of His goodness and faithfulness, and I have walked over that metaphorical Jordan and tasted the goodness of what He is capable of. I will always keep this in my heart.