Sunday, September 9, 2018

Gift


Everyone has an expiration date. I know this isn’t something we like to think about or focus on even for a moment, but it’s true. As the years go by, I am saddened to hear about singers and actors who have passed away; these are people that I grew up listening to and watching in movies. When we are younger, somehow we are convinced that we have immortal lives.  As the process of aging starts to catch up with us, many of us realize that we are on this earth for a limited time.

Me with my mom during her months of chemotherapy in 2016

Today, my mom and I celebrate extended life on this earth. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago on September 9. Through God’s grace and excellent medical treatments, she is still with us and doing well. She is a daily reminder to me that God does perform miracles. She had advanced stage breast cancer, and at the time of her diagnosis, I was convinced that she only had a few months left with me. God showed me that He has a timing for each one of us. Her time was not the time I was so certain of. I’m so thankful for more time, more memories, and more laughter with her.

On September 9, 1999, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of thirty. I was a third year medical student at the time, and I was devastated. In my thirty years, I had overcome some bad relationships, finally graduated from college, and I had just started to have confidence in my ability to do some good in the world. I had finally been admitted to medical school after two years of applying, and I was studying so hard to become a successful doctor so I could help sick people. I couldn’t understand how a good God could allow this cancer in my life. I couldn’t understand why He would bring me to this point and then tell me, “No more.”

I struggled during that initial diagnosis and treatment, but God had a plan that I couldn’t see. After surgery, radiation, and more surgeries, I was cancer-free. It wasn’t easy, and I had to endure some physical and emotional pain. In fact, the scars will always be with me. The thing is, God wasn’t finished with me yet. He didn’t cause my cancer, but He chose to bring me wholeness again. I feel heartache as I realize that this healing doesn’t happen for everyone.  There are many people, even younger than I was, who have succumbed to the effects of cancer, and their sweet lives on this earth have ended. Almost all of us know someone this has happened to. With all of my heart, I believe that God has His reasons. I believe that God’s protective and loving arms take some children and adults to be with Him before their earth years are lived out. It’s hard for us to accept losing someone we love so much.

My graduation cake and memories of my cancer struggle

Today, I focus on the positive and I celebrate my life. I am grateful for the years I’ve been granted, for the time I’ve had to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, and for the moments I’ve been able to share with my family and friends. Every day we’re given on this earth is a blessing. Knowing this, I focus on the legacy I want to leave behind me one day. Did people see me as someone who loved God and others? Did my family and friends feel loved and special? Did I treat strangers with kindness and respect? Did I show them God’s love?

Our days are numbered, and thankfully many of us have been gifted with many days. Job 14:6 says, “A person’s days are determined; You have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” What legacy will you leave behind one day? Who do you serve? How well you do love others? How well do you love who God made you to be?

Though we have a mortal expiration date, God can renew us each day. “Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16. This gift of renewal from God is there for the taking. He offers us strength and courage on this earth, and He offers us eternal life when we turn these short lives over to Him.

I pray today that God would open your eyes and heart to His wonderful plan for you. I pray that you would come to understand His great love for you. His love for you is specific and on purpose. He has a plan for you…a special plan for you.

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