Saturday, November 21, 2009

What Cancer Has Done For Me.

For those who are not aware of the recent difficulties that have come about the "Pham(ily)" household, as of April 2009, my mom was diagnosed with stage four metastatic lung cancer. It has definitely taken a hard toll on us spiritually, mentally and physically. No doubt that this cancer has changed my life and it still is changing my life. Just when I thought I had everything all planned out – although I was still questioning my future – along came cancer. Undoubtedly this has taken a harder toll on my mom because this cancer is living in, on and with her twenty-four-seven.
What I'm about to talk about is not about how this cancer has ruined my life, but how it has benefited my life. Don’t get me wrong. If cancer was a choice, I would definitely choose to avoid it. I’m not saying that I wish illness upon my mom, but what I’m saying is this: By God’s grace, he has taken this disease, this bringer of hardship, this bringer of suffering, this bringer of pain and agony and whatever else – and turned it into a gift. A gift that is meant to amplify Him even more so.
What The Cancer Has Brought Us:
God gave my mom cancer. As hard as it is sometimes to believe, God is always in control and uses every single factor in our lives to bring glory to Himself. God gave this "curse" to my mom and turned it into a tool to show me His power, love, and most importantly, His sovereignty. In this he showed me this: "Look at Me. Trust Me. I'm in control. I'm going to use this to glorify me and show you things you wouldn't see unless I put you through this." And to my mom, "Don't waste what I've given you." (<-Link)

Sure, I've experienced finding out that relatives were diagnosed with cancer, but what about the person you've known the longest, gave life to me, nurtured me, loved me. We all live life as if we own it. As a matter of fact, we do not. With all these human advances, we forget how vulnerable we all are; even to the common cold. Through our daily lives, man is saying, "Look at ME," through designs, knowledge, success, fame, but what about God, whom is the creator of the earth. Does he not deserve any credit? In the Bible we read:
Isaiah 44:24-28
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: "I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by Myself, who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish, who confirms the word of his servant and fulfills the counsel of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, 'She shall be inhabited,' and of the cities of Judah, 'They shall be built and I will raise up their ruins'; who says the deep, 'Be dry; I will dry up your rivers'; who says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd, and he shall fulfill all my purpose'; saying of Jerusalem, "She shall be built,' and of the temple, 'Your foundation shall be laid.'"
And with this, God responds: "You are mine. I made you and you will bring me glory. All that I have given you, you will use it to glorify me."
God has taken this "curse" and used it to unify our family, both mom and dad's side. Not to go into too much detail, my mom's side and our family didn't get along so well, but because of this gift, strange as it may seem, it has brought out the kindness and understanding of both families. Now, we get plenty of phone calls each day and we get along better than ever. With this, we are able to continue witnessing to both sides of our family through our attitudes in handling the situation.
God has given us more support that we could have ever dreamed of. We have so many loving friends who pray for us daily. For this, I am truly grateful. Not only is this an encouragement to me, but it is also an encouragement to my mom. As much as my mom would like to socialize, her health would not permit her to do so, or at least as much as she would like. It's kind of crazy how God takes a vulgar disease like cancer and takes and uses it to unify the church in praying for my mom. I have become more familiar with faces around the church from those asking of my moms condition. I must admit, I do become weary of constantly having to repeat myself over and over again about my mom's updates, but as much as I'm tired of it, I find even more joy in that I can see God's love manifesting in my life through others' showing compassion toward our family.
Through this crazy roller coaster, God has allowed me to find joy in the littlest things. For example: Life. It is a gift. God's gift. He gave it, and he can take it. He'll use it, mold it, break it. I can find peace and comfort in knowing that if it is His will to allow my mom to live, than that is a gift, but if it is also to take her life, this is also a gift. To live, we would have many more memories and loving times together and from her experience, she can encourage others and let them know that they are not alone in this journey. To take, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more difficulties or hardships. She can be with our Father in Heaven!
I take great joy in my time with my mom more than I ever have before. Not going to lie, it has often become very frustrating providing for her needs, but when I perform these tasks, I take joy in it (or at least I do my best to).
I also take joy in the little cry of a child: showing how needy we were as little ones. How innocent, vulnerable; just as we are with Christ. We are needy; there is never a day where we do not go hungry, thirsty... Our dependence on God allows us to humble ourselves and come to Him, depend on Him.
I'm not trying to amplify my mom's condition because I know that there are others that are dealing with the same. The purpose of this was to encourage to you, so that if or when you encounter a tough situation or a hardship, that you would keep this in mind. It's funny. At Resolved, a christian conference, John Piper spoke about how God used sin to glorify Him. Just as this situation seems so big to us, there are millions of other situations going on also, all which are bringing glory to God. When struggling for joy, seek Him.

To this day, my mom is doing well. Sassy, as ever, but is doing well. As of recent, she has postponed her chemotherapy treatment due to low blood count. She should be starting up again in January.
For those who are always asking if we need any favors, thank you. The biggest favor you could bring us is prayer!
Thank you all for you love, support, and prayers! God bless! -- Sola Gratia.

Colossians 1: 9-14
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that
you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

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