By Barbara M. Britton
I had heard about survivor’s guilt. Veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars have discussed the guilt of being unscathed while their fellow soldiers died. Even on one of my favorite TV shows, Blue Bloods, the main character Danny Reagan has talked about his guilt coming home from war when his friends didn’t. I have never been to war. I’ve never fought a battle against a flesh and blood enemy, but I have battled the scary “C” word—Cancer. Where is the guilt in surviving cancer? It’s there when people you love succumb to this invasive illness.
Some of my favorite verses in Scripture are Philippians 4:6-7.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I took Paul’s advice and prayed often during my cancer surgeries and treatments. I truly felt stronger and at peace from all the prayers being said for me. And I am thankful that I am still enjoying life a year and a half after completing my surgeries and radiation treatment for breast cancer.
But I never thought I would feel guilty about surviving cancer until my sister-in-law lost her battle with ovarian cancer. She was diagnosed after I finished my radiation therapy and she died as I neared a year of life lived cancer free. We were almost the same age, so why wasn’t she healed? She was a strong Christian, so why did God take her home and leave me here? I struggled with these feelings and wondered if others thought about them too.
I remember being in a Bible study with a woman who had lost her son due to a car accident. She told us, “I never questioned God.” Wow! Not even once? She trusted God. The all-knowing, all-powerful, loving Creator. God doesn’t make mistakes. I believed all these things about God and now I had a chance to live them. Instead of questioning God, I told Him how I felt about my sister-in-law’s passing. I wasn’t questioning His awesomeness, but I was being honest about my pain. I prayed, “Lord, I don’t understand, but I trust you.”
Instead of being angry about my sister-in-law’s passing, I lifted my family members up in prayer and helped them deal with their emotions as best I could. And instead of feeling guilty, I’m learning to be thankful for the time God has given me post-cancer.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1, we are told, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven:” Yes, even a time to be born and a time to die. We don’t have the time sheet. God is the keeper of this mystery. It is up to us to make the most of our lives and tell the people in our lives that we love them—every day. We also need to tell people about Jesus. Wouldn’t it be great if we started a revival in this land?
We serve a loving, powerful God. He wants what is best for us. Sometimes we won’t understand His actions. In those times, we need to share our feelings with God and those around us, but we don’t ever want to question God’s essence. Lingering questions will be answered in Glory.
- Thank God your eyes opened and your feet hit the bedroom floor
- Pray for someone who is hurting
- Tell your friends and family that you love them
- Praise the Lord! In every situation
- Praise Him for eternal life--cancer can’t take that away
- And for you ladies, don’t forget to schedule a yearly 3D mammogram. God gives us good medical detection too.
- May the Lord bless you and keep you.
Barbara M. Britton lives in Wisconsin and writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.
Barb brings little known Bible characters to light in her Tribes of Israel series. You can find out about Barb’s books on her website, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
A Bit About Barb's Latest Book: “Building Benjamin.”
Love Grows Where God Grafts the Tender Shoot.
Naomi desires to dance well enough to catch the eye of a wealthy landowner. Her father needs a substantial bride price due to the deaths of her brothers at the hands of the tribe of Benjamin. But when Benjamites raid the Ephraimite feast and capture young girls, Naomi is bound and carried from her home by Eliab, a troubled shepherd who needs a wife.
As Naomi awaits rescue, she finds Eliab has a strong faith in God and a just reason for abducting her. A reason that affects all the tribes of Israel. The future of the tribe of Benjamin hangs in the balance, but if Naomi follows her heart and stays with Eliab to rebuild his lineage, she must forfeit her family and become a traitor to her tribe.