For anyone who has ever wondered what good could possibly come out of hardship and suffering:
During a seventeen month time span my husband and I lost five family members and one job. Through it all I felt infinite uncertainty.
I remember the last day of my husband’s job. I was at home with a nasty cold. Like a bear waking up from hibernation, I wandered clumsily into the bathroom to get some tissues. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Between the frayed hair, droopy eyes, and chapped lips, I looked ten times worse than I felt.
Then I noticed something… I leaned into the mirror, tilted my head back and there was this bump that was protruding out of the left side of my neck. I wanted to believe it had something to do with the cold I was dealing with. But days later I had a doctor’s visit and I was told, “Stacey, we need to figure out if this bump is cancer or not.”
The night before one of the tests, I went to a women’s event at the church we attended. As the evening came to a close, we were invited up to an altar for a time of prayer. I patiently waited in line and silently said to myself, “God you know what’s going on and what I’m facing. Would you please speak to me tonight?”
Eventually it was my turn and I was welcomed by a woman who simply asked for my name, and then she started to pray. As she was praying I noticed her hand came to rest on my neck.
“Stacey, do you sing?” she asked me.
“No,” I said.
“Well, I hear God saying to me that He’s going to give you a new song to sing! He’s going to work out a miracle in your life; so that you will learn how to trust Him better. In Jesus name I bind up fear of man. I pray that you will see yourself the way God does. I pray for a double portion of blessings. And God help Stacey find her place in ministry.”
As she continued to pray, her hand moved from my neck down to my abdomen.
The following day was the first in a variety of tests that determined I had an inch size growth on my thyroid. I learned from my specialist that the thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits at the base of the neck. It produces hormones that regulate our metabolism.
“Stacey, after reviewing your test results I recommend you undergo surgery to remove the left side of your thyroid. But I need to give you fair warning. As a result of this surgery you might wake up with a permanently changed voice.”
On Friday, June 10, 2011, I underwent a partial thyroidectomy. On my way to the hospital I was sitting in the driver’s side of my husband’s 1997 Toyota Corolla. I was trying not to think about the day ahead, or the other challenges going on in our lives; like the fact that my grandmother was rushed to the ICU and would pass away three days after my surgery.
As my husband and I prayed to our one true Regulator we chose, by faith, to focus on what was good, excellent and praiseworthy. We prayed for my body, for the physicians. I recited God’s promise in Isaiah 43:2 which says, “When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.”
I had a blue backpack nestled in between my legs, and I reached into it to pull out my smart phone. My fingers tapped the touch screen to scroll through each email. I stopped at a Max Lucado devotional sent that morning. The subject line? Healing Prayer. A sense of peace came over me.
A Mile Marker
I made it through the surgery and learned that I was cancer-free and my voice was unharmed! But, I also learned that I have a thyroid autoimmune disorder that will be with me for the rest of my life. It’s a condition that can make it hard for me to conceive or give birth to a healthy, full-term child.
Once again I questioned and cried out to our Regulator. “God, you say in your word that all things work together for good. But I admit I’m struggling to understand how all of this is even working together. Please help me to trust you. I would like to have a healthy child.”
On Labor Day of 2012 my husband and I welcomed our first child into the world, and she was full-term and healthy! Since then I’ve come to accept that the scar on my neck is more than just the remains of a surgery. The scar has healed and it has become a physical mile marker that forever changed the direction of my life! Without it, and all of the loss and grief, and wondering what in the world could happen to my voice…I would not have the privilege to sing – in a figurative way – through writing and communicating that good ALWAYS comes out of hardship and suffering!
I believe that woman was right when she prayed for me on that rainy, cold evening back in March of 2011 when she said, “God is going to give you a new song to sing.” Because He did!
How have you seen hardship and suffering work together for good in your life?