The year 2020 has been a challenging one in so many ways. We have been battling a pandemic and many have lost loved ones. In South Australia where I live, we have not been as affected as many nations, so for that I am very grateful. However there are always difficulties to face. At the beginning of the COVID-19 lock down here, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Life can change rapidly from one minute to the next, and this was one of those times for me. On top of the pandemic and having two of my adult children in places where COVID-19 was very active, I now faced cancer. I spent most of the year undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. In such times we certainly need to “bloom where we are planted,” and I was somewhere I never thought I’d be—on a journey of healing to overcome this disease, living on my own, with a pandemic happening around the world.
What did I learn during this time? Firstly, that God was with me every moment of every day and every night. There were times I didn’t feel God, but I knew he was there, times I didn’t hear God, but I knew he was there, and times I was too tired to pray, but I knew God was there. There were also times when I felt God’s presence strongly and was overwhelmed with a sense of God’s peace, and times when I heard God through a verse someone sent me or that I read myself. I knew that God was “hiding me under his wings” (Psalm 91:4). This was a theme God gave me throughout. A friend sent me a painting that she thought might encourage me, inspired by Psalm 91. She didn’t know the importance of this verse to me, but God did. So many blessings like this encouraged me.
My family and my church family were amazing in their care for me. My two adult children who live close by took me to chemotherapy and stayed with me on the first night after each treatment. People made me meals, sent me flowers, encouraging messages, and lovely cards by post, and people also visited to keep me company and pray with me. Grandchildren sent letters and pictures. My children who were not in South Australia video called me regularly. The greatest gift was the prayers of God’s people. I was carried by these prayers, and every prayer was answered in some way by our loving God.
I also was reminded once more of the importance of praise. When things felt overwhelming and hard, I made an effort to praise God out loud and find things to thank God for—from very simple things like the birds singing outside to bigger things like managing a stay in hospital. I read a variety of Psalms out loud and spoke scriptures over my situation. I reminded myself that where I was in life wasn’t a surprise to God and that God is good all the time. I listened to Christian music and sang along.
God has been very good to me throughout this year. I have been truly blessed and am very grateful to medical professionals for their care and God-given wisdom. I am most thankful to God for his loving-kindness, presence, faithfulness, and healing in all areas. I am pleased to say that my treatment is over, I am regaining my strength, and I am in complete remission. To God be the glory!
Our resolve must be different. My prayer is that we have finally reached a tipping point. My hope is that when the protests fade and the marches slow that our will as a church to truly eradicate the scourge of racism won’t dissipate but grows even stronger.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.