Be Not Afraid

Emmanuel, You Have Come to Save Us

I feel somewhat silly saying this, but I really can’t believe I’m here again: lying awake in bed, night after night, unable to sleep, filled with anxiety, wondering if I will get to see my sweet boy grow up or reach old age with my husband. I’m almost ashamed to admit that despite everything we went through this past year, and how fully I discovered how fragile, uncertain, and precious life is, since reaching remission on October 13th, I got comfortable. I reached a point where I began to breathe more deeply. Thanks to my new baby-soft hair, I no longer thought of cancer each time I looked in the mirror. I even felt frustrated when I developed a cold a few weeks back, despite how little the suffering was in comparison to the pain of my tumor or the consequent chemotherapy.

And so, going into my scan last week, I felt completely at peace. I didn’t think there was any reason to worry about anything showing up. My tumor had shrunk in the three months since I stopped chemotherapy, enough for me to be considered in remission, and I assumed it must have continued to shrink in these past three months as well. But as soon as my doctor entered the room and asked me how I was feeling–Was I tired? Did I have any pain? Had I been short of breath?–I knew then that the scan wasn’t clear as I had expected. And as my doctor explained that my scan showed an increase in size as well as activity, I started to get angry. Really angry. What was with this sense of peace I’d felt all week? Why hadn’t I been more nervous? Why did I assume everything would be okay?

These questions plagued me all weekend as Mike and I went on our previously planned celebration trip in D.C. When I was going through treatment there were times when I felt confused, overwhelmed, and discouraged. But now? I just felt angry. Angry at cancer, angry at God, angry at everyone and everything.

When I came across a video I shared with family and friends last December, right before Christmas, right before I began to feel unbearable pain, right before our world was turned upside down, I felt angry. Watching myself smile before beginning to sing an undeniably hopeful song, I actually wanted to smack the sweet smile right off my pregnant 2010 self.

Emmanuel

Amidst the cold and winter wind,
the falling snow that forces us in,
can you see a star rising?

Emmanuel, Emmanuel, we’ve waited for you.
Emmanuel, Emmanuel, our hearts homes for you.

The shadow of death that covers us,
is lifted in Him who rescues us.
Can you feel hope rising?

Emmanuel, Emmanuel, we’ve waited for you.
Emmanuel, Emmanuel, our hearts homes for you.

Glory to God in the highest.
Hope is with us, forever more.

But then I remembered another face with a much sweeter (if not crazier) smile.

I never want anything or anyone to steal that goofy smile from John Paul’s face. I would sacrifice anything if it meant he could keep the same innocence and sweetness he has now. Realistically, I know that we live in a broken world, a world full of sickness and hate and evil-things that will inevitably steal pieces of his innocence and sweetness. But the deepest prayer of my heart is that this world of darkness will not steal his hope, and that he will know the feeling of the sun on his face even when he can’t see the light.

And just as I wish this for my son, doesn’t the Father wish the same for me-the same for all of His children? Wouldn’t He do anything, even become man, endure suffering, and die for us, so that we might never lose hope? Hasn’t He come to earth to save us from all evil, including our own sin of unbelief and despair?

Remembering this, I sang another song of hopefulness with my friends at mass on Sunday. We proclaimed the truth we have come to know-that God has come to save us, and to not only give us hope, but to be our hope.

As I undergo a biopsy tomorrow to determine whether or not the cancer has returned to my body (perhaps it was never gone in the first place), and whether or not I will need further treatment, I will choose to remain hopeful, and not hopeless, joyful, and not sorrowful. I will pray in thanksgiving for a God who never leaves us, and for hope that never dies.

Come to Save Us, All Sons and Daughters

You have come to save us
You have come to save us
You have come to save us, Lord

You have made a way here
You have made the way clear
You have come to save us, Lord

Jesus, You’re the one who saves us
Jesus, You’re the one who saves us
King of all the other kings on earth

You are light and fire
You are our desire
You have come to save us, Lord

You’re the hope among us
You’re the peace that binds us
You have come to save us, Lord

King of all Kings and Lord of all Lords
Light of the world, You shine

To support the incredible All Sons & Daughters who just released a new E.P. today, click here to buy their music.

To hear All Sons & Daughters perform Come to Save Us click here.

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12 comments

  1. Diane Pfarr

    Ali,
    You have continued to be in our daily prayers … we will ask others in our Small Groups, etc to also pray for a good outcome for your health.
    We think of you all the time … and may the peace of God which surpasses all understanding continue to be with you.
    xoxoxo
    Diane and Donny Pfarr

  2. Gayle Engelstad

    You’ve been on my mind and in my prayers, I’ve been concerned since there wasn’t a post from you after your scan last Wednesday. I never wrote to say how much your sharing in song at St. Joe’s in December meant to me. I will keep you in my prayers and on our prayer list at church. May you have God’s peace.
    Gayle Engelstad

  3. Thank you for this post, Alli – I was (am) angry too. (Still torn between wanting to punch something and give you a giant hug. It’s a strange feeling.)
    And yet when I hear you sing, I can’t feel anything but gratitude. For you, and for the God who is our hope.

    • Mary Enquist

      Perfectly said, Caroline. I want to smack something or someone too, but definitely not your sweet unknowing self in 2010. I still remember watching that on Christmas morning and getting tears in my eyes. I have tears in my eyes now listening to it, but for different reasons.

  4. Anger is a very normal response Alli. And I don’t feel that yelling at God is a sign of a weakness in faith, an attitude that will damn you to hell or reflects the beautiful person and spirit that you are. I actually see being angry or upset with God about things that beyond unfair shows me that your faith is strong. I love that your relationship with him is so comfortable that you are able talk to him like you would a friend. He is a friend. He has a plan.

    My poetry (outlet) sometimes reflects anger towards God. It’s because I don’t understand it. Without a miracle this caner I have, will be with me forever. I have let it consume and seep into everything that I do. I’m not cancer. My little monster doesn’t get to win. God wins. Enjoy your baby like I do my one year old grand-daughter because tomorrow is not promised for anyone. Forever starts at last breath. I believe.

    Here is one of my poems. I am praying for you. I image that even when someone goes into remission and even when they pass that 5 year mark indicating cure, that their fear returns at every test. I bet they look behind closed door to make sure monsters aren’t lurking there and every cold brings thoughts of the the cancer returning. It’s only when I become complacent with my relationship with God that I faultier.

    BIGGER IS MY GOD

    Oh, Theif in the night
    My God is bigger than you
    You may have my things
    Steal them
    You may take my breath
    Take my life here
    My God will provide me with so much more
    Your gains are not my losses
    Your gains are my gains
    My God of comfort will provide
    So be quick and take the Earthy things
    They only matter on the Earth
    My God’s rewards are promised
    I believe
    My God is all I need

    Oh Chains that hold me down
    My God will release me
    You hold no power over him
    My God will let me be who I am
    You may hold me in place here
    You may tell others who I am
    My God knows who I am
    My God knows who I will be
    My God has made me
    My God will mold me
    My God promises freedom

    Oh my Abuser
    You may cause me pain
    You may tear my skin
    You who tries to break my spirit
    Have you met my God?
    My God is bigger than you
    My God feels my pain
    My God cries my tears
    My God fights my battles
    My God will take my pain
    My God will dry my tears
    My God will hold me in His arms
    My God will rock me
    My God will heal me
    He will give me new skin
    My God will cure my brokeness
    My God loves me
    So Try as you may
    My God is bigger than you

    jonniebug
    01/27/2011

    Keep writing and singing friend.
    Jonnie Hickman

  5. Grace and peace, friend. I can’t imagine your fear, which is why I can also not imagine your tremendous courage. So I’m asking God to give you unimaginable grace to take it one step at at time, in trust and hope. Come Holy Spirit! (Take good care of John Paul!)

  6. Anna Keating

    I can’t imagine what you are going through. You are a bright light, an inspiration, an unbelievably strong and holy human being.

  7. My daughter was in the NICU as the same time as your son…one of the nurses told me about your blog one day and I wrote it down on a scrap of paper and didn’t find it again until today. I have been praying and thinking about your family, and I’ll continue even harder after reading this post.

    (John Paul is so big and beautiful now! Look at that smile! And those teeth!)

    Lots of love,

    Cath

  8. I’m so, so sorry; I was excited to hear about your cancer continuing to recede. Praying God works a miracle for you, just like your son is a miracle. Praying for His peace and hope to fill you and your family above all else.

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