My husband and I held each other in the dark as we prayed through our tears. We were married only a short time when I discovered the cancer I was being treated for was still growing. We had known this possibility was real, yet we clung to the hope the treatments would work. God had brought us together in a miraculous way, so why would He allow this awful disease to separate us?
As mature Christians, our faith was strong in our sovereign God and His perfect will. This was a second marriage for both of us. We saw ourselves as a couple of seasoned war horses, having survived the battles of our betrayed first marriages with our faith still intact. These trials taught us that when God asks us to surrender our will to His, we must trust He will show us the way. He clearly showed us the way to each other. We knew without doubt our marriage was a gift from Him. Only now our faith was being put to the ultimate test in a life-and-death situation. Could we trust Him with this?
On tear-soaked pillows we relinquished our own dreams and desires to the One who holds all things in His hands. It was a desperate prayer, a laying down of this precious gift of love we had in each other.We surrendered all, but not without a sense of rending, of tearing, of grief at the possibility of losing what we had only just found in our mutual love. It felt risky to lay bare before God our deepest longing. What if He chose not to spare me? What if our life together was cut short?
“Remember what God said?”, whispered my husband. “ 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways.' 1 We need to trust Him, no matter what.”
Not only were we called to trust, we were called to obey. Giving over to God what we held dearest to our hearts needed to be done as an act of obedience, not of emotion. Pleading to have our own way, no matter how right it seemed, would be placing our own will above His. If we truly trusted Him, then we must truly trust that His ways are best, whatever the outcome. Our desire for God to be foremost in our hearts must take precedence over our desire for me to be cured. Like Abraham, we placed the “Isaac” of our life together on the altar, giving it to God to do with as He thought best.
My oncologist intensified my treatment regimen. For six more months I endured chemotherapy infusions which made me sicker than the disease itself. When I was at my lowest I sometimes wondered if our prayer of relinquishment was turning into one of resignation. But resignation signifies defeat, giving up to expect the worst. Our prayer meant we accepted the reality of our situation, yet with open hands to receive willingly whatever our loving Father sent. Relinquishment did not close the door on hope.
That night of prayer and tears happened over 19 years ago. Doctors credited the treatments for halting the cancer, but we know God gave me the gift of this long remission. We have come to believe that relinquishing our desires to God, the hardest thing we’ve ever done, positioned us to receive what He wanted to give us and to accomplish what He had in mind for our lives.
What if God had chosen not to prolong my life? Would our prayer have failed? There can be no failure in relinquishing our will to God, because doing so tells God of our complete trust in Him, and that is what He desires most from us. I reached a point when I could say with Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” 2
My husband and I take every day we have together as a blessing from our loving God. We continue to yield our dreams and hopes to Him, not knowing what the outcome will be, yet trusting the One who knows the end from the beginning. Whatever He deems best is fine with us.
1 Isaiah 55:8 NIV 2 Job 13:15 NIV
More of her devotionals can be read on her blog https://scriptordeus.wordpress.com