How to Find Peace in the Storm
By Nancy High Engel
It was late afternoon, and I was playing with my grandchildren when the phone rang. The ringtone told me that it was Amy Jo—my Nurse Navigator, cheerleader, mentor, sounding board. The one who always calls me with my test results. I had just had my regular tests done that morning (brain MRI, chest and abdomen CT, blood work) and I was waiting for the news. Was I still in remission? Did I get another six month reprieve? My heart started pounding, and I felt a tightness in my chest as I answered the phone.
It's been almost 4 years since we received that first phone call that would change my life forever! The news that I was no longer one of the healthiest people that I knew but one of the most "terminal"—with stage IV lung cancer with metastasis too many places than I care to think about.
In these years, I've had test results and phone calls with good news. It's the reports that tell me that my current treatment is no longer working that have been my biggest hurdle in trusting God and walking in his peace.
From day one, God has challenged me that this journey will give me the opportunity to really live what I believe. He gently reminds me of the lovely truths I've declared through the years, the songs I've sung, and the scriptures I've read. “This is where the rubber meets the road, girlie!”
Gone are the days of easy, wrapped-up-in-a-bow answers. I have more questions now than ever, but this one thing I DO know: God has provided supernatural peace for his children. For me. A believer's life should be characterized by unconditional love and supernatural peace. Of this, there can be no debate. And not just when things are going smoothly, but ESPECIALLY when they are not. When prayers aren't answered in the way that we want or when we want. When life is hard.
Jesus, the PRINCE OF PEACE, makes it very clear. “I leave the gift of peace with you—My peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my PERFECT PEACE. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!” (John 14:27 TPT)
After putting me in remission for about 14 months, the targeted therapy, first-line of defense medicine had stopped working. Some patients had not even gotten a year while taking this med, but I focused on those who had received more time. In anguish and disappointment I cried out to God, “WHY NOT ME?” I sat alone in my house and was so filled with frustration that I contemplated hurling my water glass onto the wall. But after taking a breath, the wind calmed down, the storm passed and God's still, small voice whispered, "What is that to you? You follow me. There will be more glory in your story. And, besides, you would have to clean it up!"
That was two years ago. I’ve been on another medicine, my second line of defense targeted therapy that has once again put me into remission. That is, until Amy Jo called. She reported that all of the areas scanned—brain, abdomen, chest remained good and unchanged…...EXCEPT one small spot—the original tumor in my lung. That one had grown. A new plan of action is now needed.
Yesterday I walked down the unfamiliar and uncertain hallway to radiation. With each step I am painfully aware how weak I am. How prone to fear and worry. How easily the tears come.
This journey has shown me my great need for God. No longer depending on my own strength, I know how strong my God is. I know that I’m not alone. I’ve felt his warm hand upon my head so many times. He goes with me into the unknown, and I take comfort in the fact that HE KNOWS.
He is offering his strong and sustaining peace. I can take that to the bank...or to the cancer center, as the case may be! He will be with me each step of my journey until he calls me home. His name will be glorified through this story of a woman who fought hard, failed, trusted, stumbled, worshiped and still managed to walk in his peace.
Yes, Lord Jesus, thank You! May our life stories bring glory to God. Period. Whatever that means, however that looks. May his peace shine through these imperfect pots. May praise and gratitude mingle with the tears. May his faithfulness be evident day by day in the way that we walk and declare that though life can be hard at times, GOD IS ALWAYS GOOD.
Nancy High Engel is a wife to Jerry for 38 years, mother of three adult children and worship leader. However her favorite title is being "Grams" to her five precious young grandchildren. She finds so much pleasure in her family, creative journaling and Bible study in her sun room, worshiping Jesus, drinking coffee with friends and living in Lancaster County. She blogs atnjanejourney.blogspot.com