If you had asked me after my diagnosis whether I was angry about my situation–stage 3 cancer at age 36 with three young daughters and a husband who already had buried his first wife--I would have responded that I was not. After all, it’s not really proper for a Baptist minister’s wife to get angry, is it?
Well, let me share a couple of the things I thought and felt those first few days after my diagnosis and you tell me what you think my state of mind might have been.
When I was in the hospital after my cancer surgery, a friend came into my room and told me God was going to teach me great things through this trial. I wanted to take the IV out of my arm, stab it in hers, and tell her, “You get in the bed and learn great things from God, because I don’t want to learn this way.”
Of course, I didn’t actually say that to her. Instead I just smiled and hoped she would leave very soon.
A couple of days later I was waiting for the pathology report to see if my cancer had been caught early and cured, or whether it was advanced and I would need chemotherapy and perhaps radiation. Lying in that bed, I had lots of time to talk with God.
“You are making a really big mistake here,” I fumed. “There’s absolutely nothing You can ever do to make up for this because it is too awful. And don’t think You are going to pull me through this somehow and I’m going to go and minister to cancer patients, because I won’t do it!”
Perhaps a wee bit of anger there?
When I look back on those early days after my diagnosis, I am incredulous at some of the things I thought and felt. But I was in such a state of shock and disbelief myself that I really was struggling to cope. At one point I was so distraught, that I told my husband “I guess God really doesn’t love me.”
I don’t remember saying it and find it hard to believe I was actually that despondent, but I know my husband isn’t making things up.
So as I look back on those dark days after diagnosis, I realize I experienced a bevy of emotions: shock, disbelief, denial, disappointment, frustration, sadness, worry and yes, anger.
I didn’t have anyone at the time who I felt comfortable “burdening” with my anger, so I just kept taking it to God. The Bible says He can read our minds (Psalm 139:1-4) so I figured I might as well just say all the awful things I was thinking and feeling because He knew them anyway.
Maybe you’re not as angry as I was; perhaps you’re only just a little ticked. Then again, maybe “rage” better describes what you’re feeling today.
Where can you go to dump it?
I suggest you run where all of us with great suffering need to run: to the only One whose shoulders are broad enough, whose arms are strong enough and whose love is deep enough.
“It’s all right—questions, pain, and stabbing anger can be poured out to the Infinite One and He will not be damaged…
For we beat on His chest from within the circle of His arms,” writes Anne Cetas, an author for the daily devotional, Our Daily Bread.
Can you visualize that for yourself? You crying out to God, beating your clenched fists upon His chest and Him holding you in His loving arms.
I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Psalm 69:3
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God,
but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief. Psalm 22:1-2
And then after you’ve hurled your questions heavenward, don’t forget to go to God’s Word to find His response. A good place to start might be the promise He gave to Jeremiah, who was filled with so much grief he has been called “the weeping prophet:”
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt…”
”God speaking in Jeremiah 31:3, 4 NIV
I believe God is the best place to turn to with your suffering. He’ll either give you the answers you seek or the peace you need to live with the questions.
My reporter-friend Cubby fought against a range of emotions accompanied by many tears when she battled breast cancer. But she says she always found hope “when I could visualize Jesus sitting next to me or holding me safely nestled in His lap.”
It was in those moments that the peace came to live with the unanswered questions.
Perhaps you would like to pray today with the Psalmist: O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety for you are my safe refuge. Amen. (Psalm 61:1-3)