George Santayana once wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
It has only been two years since I found myself in the exact same place I have landed in now. I remember it well. So why am I going through this again?
Two years ago, I had just started summer vacation and my mom was taking me on a long-awaited trip to California so I could see where she grew up. I had packed my suitcase and driven to my parents’ house since we were leaving early the next morning. As I was spending a relaxing evening there, I heard my mom ask, “What is that…?”
My dad and I both turned to look at her. She looked back at us and said, “There’s a lump.”
We just sat there, silent, not fully understanding what she was saying—or hoping we were wrong about what we thought she was saying.
We didn’t leave the next day for our trip to California. Instead, we took a trip to the hospital to have tests run. A mass was discovered and my mom was scheduled for surgery to have it removed.
Positive lymph nodes from the surgery brought up scary words like “cancer,” “chemotherapy,” and “mastectomy.” I remember one particularly terrifying moment after we received the results of a scan that showed a spot on my mom’s liver. I still remember the feeling of helplessness when I walked out of my room to find my parents holding each other in the kitchen, sobbing.
I recall the wave of relief after that little spot turned out to be nothing more than a cluster of blood vessels. We rode this roller coaster ride, with all its dips and turns, for almost eight months—only it felt more like an eternity.
Last March was the one-year anniversary since my mom finished chemotherapy and had the scan results show she was cancer-free.
This past Monday, my mom had a bone scan because she has been experiencing quite a bit of back pain lately. Two spots that hadn’t been there before showed up on her ribs.
We still don’t know anything for sure. Tests are being run but the waiting is hard. We should know for sure within the next three weeks whether my mom will have to go through this nightmare again.
At first, I didn’t handle it well. The 24 hours after hearing the results were difficult. I love my mom dearly and I hate that she even had to go through it the first time. But then I began to remember what I learned from that experience, and I took my pain to the Lord. As always, He is faithful in sending down the comfort needed to sustain.
As I was flipping through my Bible, I “randomly” turned to Luke 7 and found myself reading about a Roman officer whose slave had fallen ill. He knew of Jesus so he sent some men out to ask him to heal the slave. The officer believed that all Jesus would have to do is speak and the man would be healed. What stood out to me was Jesus’ response to this in verse 9: “When Jesus heard this, he was amazed.”
What amazes me about this is that Jesus could find anything amazing. After all, he’s performing miracles on a daily basis and he is omniscient, yet the faith of a Roman officer amazes him.
For the next three weeks and for as long as I have breath, I am determined to have a faith that will amaze Him. I am choosing to wake up every morning with gratitude on my lips, even on the hard days. Because I remember how He carried me through the first time, I know I can find comfort in knowing that the same God who holds the world in His hands is also holding me.
If I have to relive this particularly painful part of my past, I’m grateful that this time I am prepared.
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)
An ESL teacher for the past 6 years, Sara Anderson feels it is her duty to rid the world of the words “supposably” and “moist.” She once had an unfortunate incident involving a glass of milk and a hairy spider so now she must blow into a glass before pouring a beverage in it. She loves Dave Barnes, Hillsong Live, and Kari Jobe, and when she needs her soul stirred she reads Brennan Manning. In fourth grade, she received an autographed picture of Billy Ray Cyrus, but don’t ask her to show it to you because her friend stole it and Sara never got it back.
*Photo credit: Alex Bellink