This past Sunday was the last message in a series called “Lost and Found.” The whole series was specifically impactful for me, but this past Sunday I was reminded of something that God showed me 3 years ago. It was something that I have had a hard time explaining to others and believing it to be true myself.
Three years ago, my mom went to the doctor for a sore throat and was diagnosed with cancer. It was an aggressive cancer that had metastasized, and she was given 4-6 months to live. Losing my mom was something I had come to fear because many years earlier my sister had tragically passed away at the age of 24. It was my worst nightmare to think about losing another immediate family member and it had become reality.
My mother passed away six months after she was diagnosed. When she was diagnosed, I left the life I had in Hoboken to go live with her and take care of her in every way possible. Every day was a race to save her life. She had to endure chemo and radiation, along with awful surgeries that caused her to lose the ability to eat and talk. My mother was sick and frail and in a lot of pain constantly. There was medicine to give, bandages to change, and IV’s to manage. My whole life at that time was about taking care of my mom. It was one of the most excruciatingly painful and devastating experiences to watch and to experience with her.
But this past Sunday, when Pastor Chris talked about Elijah’s story, I was reminded of that time in my life where I experienced a light in the darkness and hope in the pain that could not be explained. During those six months, I had times where I felt at peace. I remember calling my friend and telling her,“I know my mom is going to die, but I feel a deep sense of peace. I don’t understand how this is possible!” Even now, I struggle to communicate exactly how I was feeling. How was it possible that I could experience a deep sense of peace in my soul during such a horrifying time in my life? It made NO sense to me. But just like Elijah, I had questions for God during that time;a LOT of questions! How could He let this happen? Would my mom live? Was He doing this for a reason and if so, what reason would EVER be good enough? Why couldn’t He stop the pain? If God loved my mom, why wouldn’t He stop it all? If He was good, why was this happening? And just like Elijah, I didn’t get the answers to my questions. But still, I experienced peace.
When my mom was diagnosed, I was terrified and thought that I would lose all hope. But just like God sent an angel to gently care for Elijah, He did the same for me. God knew that journey would be too much for me, He knew I couldn’t do it alone. He put friends in my life to hold my hand the whole way through and He led me through the darkness. There wasn’t a moment during that time where I felt alone. I was taken care of every step of the way. My questions weren’t answered, and my circumstances didn’t change, but I still had peace. It was a sense of peace that I was deeply loved, never alone, and that I would be okay. There were even moments where I was rejoicing and I know now that was a result of God’s presence in my life.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus”.
To this day, that peace has stayed with me. Sure, I have times of sadness, longing and pain, but my heart is settled regardless of my circumstances.
In his message, Pastor Chris mentioned a song called “It Is Well with My Soul” written by Horatio G. Spafford.
“When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul. It is well with my soul, It is well, it is well with my soul”
The writer had experienced great loss as well. It was written after he lost his son and then his four daughters. This was the same song that my mother requested to be played at her funeral.
Elijah and the author of this song learned that even in the midst of physical anguish and great emotional pain you can still know peace at the core of your soul. Peace that is beyond understanding that is a result of God’s presence in our lives and now, I know that too.