Wednesday, January 15, 2014

God's Tapestry

You're an inspiration to me! I, and from what I've garnered, many other cancer fighters/survivors, here it often.  But so often, when someone says that to me, it's when I've been having a really hard time, so I feel anything but inspirational.  The more I thought about it, however, I realized that I do have a much different story than most "normal" people.  I didn't choose to have cancer, not once but twice; I didn't choose to loose my hair, or end up in the PICU, or have a BMT.  But since these different events have entered my life, I've become a changed person.  I'm not the girl I was in 2012 B.C. (before cancer).

I believe in God.  I believe that He is an omniscient, omnipresent, and all-powerful deity that controls the events in my life. I believe that He saw fit to allow me to deal with cancer.  I've heard people try to explain away my cancer many different ways... 
  • God only gives hard things to strong people that can handle it- Well I don't feel really strong
  • God only chooses the best-Really? Because I think He should punish some evildoers instead
  • God only chooses people who are faithful to Him- So follow God, and you'll get cancer
In short, I just attempted to say that there is no good explanation.  But the question still lingers, why does God, whom we associate with love, and peace, and good things, let bad things happen, especially to people who are trying to follow Him? This is an age-old question that has been asked, and why not? I've always known a "technical" answer: humanity has sinned from the beginning of time, (think breaking the 10 Commandments) so that ruined the perfect world that God created. 

Through my times of trouble, I thought a lot more about suffering.  Smokers get lung cancer.  That seems fair-cause and effect.  But what have little kids done to deserve leukemia? What did I do to deserve Hodgkin's, twice?! While I may look  like I have all the perfect answers and strength (then again, I may not look like it), I don't.  I've wondered why God let me have it. I've never gotten angry at God, just felt like He let me down. 

And then I realized He didn't.  God isn't asking me to go through something without providing me help and assistance.  How His heart must have hurt when he saw his son suffering for the world, knowing there was nothing that He, as God, could do to alleviate his son's pain.  I forgot that Jesus came to earth as a human; he experienced pain like I do! God promises to be there to strengthen and help me.  I've seen Him answer my prayers for physical relief.  But more than physical relief, He provides emotional relief.  My friend wrote this on a card for me: "Remember, God is with you...always."  I look at that every morning.  As a Christian, I know God is with me.  But always...that means no matter what or where, He is always with me.  I can rest in His promises to prosper me, and not harm me.  Sometimes its hard to believe that God will "work all things together for good." But I know that He always keeps his promises, and even though I wonder how this time in my life will work out, He already knows how it will!

I read an illustration that Corrie ten Boom shared when she spoke.  She suffered in a Nazi concentration camp, where both her sister, father, and nephew would die, because her family hid and helped Jews in their home.  She spoke about how our lives are like a beautiful tapestry.  If you look at the underside, it is a tangled mess of threads and knots.  Only those who see the top of the tapestry can appreciate the beauty of the weaving.  We only see the knots and tangles in our life, but God sees the top, and the beautiful tapestry that our life is being shaped into.   

My cancer has greatly changed me, I hope for the better.  I've learned to be more thankful for little things, like the fact that I get to finish a semester, or that I get to play the violin, or even that I could stay at home today, and not be in a hospital! I've learned to love a little deeper; for God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son...If God loved us enough to send His son to share in our sufferings, surely I can seek to emulate that love.  I'm learning to look beyond the outside, and see people for who they are and how they are individually hurting.  I'm not saying that life is a bowl of peaches.  Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been without cancer...would I be at a different college, would I have a different focus in life, would I have a different group of friends, and so many other questions. Whenever I get entangled in the different life I might have lead, I have to remember the tapestry of my life.  Maybe I was on a course to get a plain woven one.  Maybe my cancer is putting zigzag designs in it, maybe its adding different colors.  I don't know. 

Maybe you're experiencing troubles in your life.  All of us do, at various times.  All I can say is that I don't have a concrete reason why God allows suffering into our lives.  But I do know that He will not give us what we cannot use His strength to overcome.  If you don't personally know about His love and strength, please feel free to comment on my blog, and I will get back to you.  Thanks for reading.

P.S. Through this post I just wanted to share with you a few of the spiritual issues I've dealt with.  This is an extremely raw posting of what I've sometimes struggled with.  Thanks for understanding. 


  1. Great post, Jen. Thanks for being real. I love your rebuttals of those cliche "comforting" explanations, because I've thought the same things. Sometimes I think the best thing to say is nothing at all or, "I'm sorry life stinks right now." I'm so encouraged that your faith has remained and grown stronger through this unspeakably difficult trial.

  2. Amazing post! The fact is no one knows why God let bad things happen in our lives. I struggled (and still do) with similar questions when my mom was taken unexpectedly. But we have an amazing Lord who gives us strength it all!

  3. I love you Jen, and I have also asked the Lord many times (and continue to ask Him many times) as to why He let this cancer into our lives. And yet, with the Psalmist David, I can only say, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me - Ps 23;4".

    Your honey dada Vijay Anand

  4. I'm glad you're having hope :) I truly wish you recover from it. Jen. :) I quite sure you'll be another person comparie with before, we realize what we have only when we lose them. There's a lot of things we'd (at least I had) taken for granted, things that I should have appreciate. I must admit that as I'm not having such condition, I cannot feel what you said despite I agree with what you said. I don't believe in God, but I find your post very inspiring :) I hope I would be reminded of your post when I'm having hard time in the future :)

    Thank you Jen, for sharing your story! :)