I knew God was good, but the moment I received my breast cancer diagnosis I wondered if God was still good to me. Having only recently prayed the “anything” prayer, I suddenly wanted to take it back.
You know the prayer. The one where you tell God you’ll do anything to see His kingdom furthered—to bring others to salvation. Or maybe you don’t. It took me 54 years to bring myself to the point of surrendering myself, my loved ones, and my comfortable life to God’s plan and pray this prayer.
It wasn’t a flippant prayer. I’d been reading Jennie Allen’s book, Anything, for several weeks and was convicted by her and her husband’s willingness to step out of their comfort zone to make a difference in the world. I asked God to give me the courage to relinquish control and finally made the decision to trust Him. Beads of sweat formed as I knelt beside my bedroom chair that August morning and said the words, God, I’ll give anything.
Two weeks later the diagnosis hit me like a punch in the stomach, literally knocking the wind out of me. I felt sick. Immediately my prayer came to mind. God, is this my anything?
At first I was hurt. I couldn’t speak without crying. Then I got mad. I didn’t know if I could trust God anymore. If this was the beginning of the answer to my anything prayer, what would the end be? An early death? Passing this disease on to my children?
What other difficulties would my suffering entail?
I was embarrassed to admit to anyone I’d prayed the prayer. I felt guilty for causing my husband and family shock and pain. Why had I done this?
After a couple of weeks I gathered the strength to admit my prayer to my husband.
“John. I have something I need to tell you,” I said quietly.
My body tensed as I tried to protect myself from the impending blow of shock as I admitted to the prayer that put us in the precarious situation we were now in. After my confession I held my breath and waited for him to speak. Instead, he turned to me and gently took my hand.
“Are you mad at me?” I asked.
John gave me a puzzled look. “For what?”
“For praying that prayer. I know it’s the reason I have breast cancer.”
He didn’t get it. “Of course I’m not mad.”
And that was that. No big discussion. No questioning why I would do something so huge without consulting him. Just acceptance, support and love.
As I began to process having this disease and speak with other women who’ve experienced the same diagnosis—and even those who haven’t—I saw God’s beautiful grace and finally understood that He doesn’t punish us for surrendering to Him. Who knew so many people cared about me? God did. He wants me to know Him more through the kindness and genuine love given by others, including my husband. I’ve been humbled by the kind words, hugs, flowers, cards, food and prayers others have poured over me in my season of suffering.
When I look back through the pages of my life I remember the great things God has done through my past sufferings and I give myself over to Him again. I still have some fear about my prayer, but I haven’t taken it back. Instead I ask God to help me be brave enough to trust Him more. Because I’ve learned that an anything prayer can lead to an abundance of blessings, even if that anything includes cancer.