Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Pandemic, Hard Places, and New Beginnings


“This day 2000, I found I have breast cancer,” read the words inked in the margin on May 18 of my Streams in the Desert volume.

I celebrated 20 years as a cancer survivor yesterday. Even in a pandemic, we have to mark these days of significance that altered our lives and perhaps set our course on a new path. I am so grateful to be here.

It’s interesting what the devotion says on that day.

“The pressure of hard places makes us value life. Every time our life is given back to us from such a trial, it is like a new beginning, and we learn better how much it is worth, and make more of it for God and man. The pressure helps us to understand the trials of others, and fits us to help and sympathize with them.”

That hard place of cancer helped me commit to home school for eight years, persevere in prison ministry for twelve, and galvanize the next chapter of my life in becoming a writer. I realized that each day is indeed a gift. The gift of these days has helped me see my children and grandchildren grow up and I’ve been able to rejoice in the milestones in their lives.

I have to wonder what the hard place of this pandemic is going to do. What will our new beginning look like? How will we make more of our lives for others because of it? How will it help us with our compassion toward others? Hopefully, the answers to these questions will arise out of a true realization  of whose we are.

God has allowed this pandemic just as he allowed me to have cancer. At the time I had such a strong sense of His presence and guidance, I knew He could have altered the course but He did not. I don’t know all the reasons why, but the experience has opened up many ministry doors of prayer for and encouragement to others, which would have previously been closed to me. By the grace of God, the fact that I am a twenty year survivor is in itself a beacon of hope to those who are just diagnosed.

I believe this is a time for seeking God’s heart in discerning how he would use the hard place of this pandemic in the future.  It is for sure an event which could pivot our lives in unexpected directions or perhaps move us toward a calling we have long resisted.

I’ve used this quote before but it bears repeating. Fred Rogers said, “Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” Friends, though it may feel as if much of what we called normal in the past has come to an end, we ARE at the beginning of something else. How that something else unfolds depends on how we allow God to guide us in the choices we make moving forward.

So, here’s to new beginnings of hard places.

To God be the Glory.

“. . . By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onwardto Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back” (Philippians 3:13-14 The Message).


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