Today my friend Kate Motaung is here, sharing an excerpt from her memoir, A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging. I wish that none of us could relate to her story, but the reality is that many of us can, and I’m so glad we can huddle up and be in this together.
I was 21 when the “C-word” broke into my life—cancer. As soon as my mom was diagnosed, I plunged headlong into a pit of panic. I felt as if the cancer was controlling us. As if it had a mind of its own. Sleep eluded me—and I wasn’t even the patient. I clung to resentment like a security blanket.
How could God do this?
I needed God to realign my thinking, or I would go mad. I needed Him to tell me that worry wouldn’t solve anything. That Satan was the father of lies, and fear of death stemmed from the enemy. I needed Him to open my eyes to the truth that even if death came, it wouldn’t be the end.
Instead, I turned my back on the living water flowing within and spent my days facedown, sipping sand in a wasteland. Terrified of a future without my mom.
I wasn’t angry with God, I just felt . . . flat. Neutral. Disengaged. My twenty-one-year-old self tripped into a pool of spiritual and emotional lethargy. I spent all my energy treading water, going nowhere.
I couldn’t see God. In my weakest moments, I wondered if trusting Christ was worth it. How could He allow such a faithful, God-fearing woman like my mom to experience this level of suffering?
Did my faith even matter? My family suffered just the same as unbelievers, so what was the point? I knew God existed, but the benefits of being His follower blurred with the tears in my eyes.
As I teetered on the edge of doubt, I looked at people I knew who didn’t have Jesus. I saw their emptiness. Their complete lack of hope. I couldn’t help but compare them to my mom.
Even though Mom may have feared the unknown, she was anchored by her trust in Christ. Not just on the surface, either. She possessed a deep-seated hope within, fully persuaded of her Lord’s ability to keep her tucked in the palm of His hand. She was held.
When I considered my options—either continuing to trust Jesus even when it hurt or turning my back on Him—I knew I would rather be held. Even more, I’d rather know that my mom was safe in His grip, no matter what the cancer did to her.
Jesus’ words about His followers echoed in my mind: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28). Even if her body did waste away in this life, she would still be held. She would be safe. She would be home.
God reminded me of a conversation in the Bible when some of Jesus’ followers had turned away from Him. Jesus asked His remaining disciples, “You don’t want to leave too, do you?”
Then Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:66–68). Peter’s words sealed it for me. Even if I flirted with doubt, where else could I go? God was my only hope.
Deep down, I knew Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). I knew He held power over life and death. Most importantly, I knew He was faithful. He promised that all things work together for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). All things. Even cancer.
But I needed Him to rescue my flailing faith and teach me through trials that nothing could separate me (or my mom, or anyone else) from His love—not even the vilest of cancer diagnoses.
When it felt like Mom was losing the battle, God helped me to see that ultimately, the victory is in Christ, not in the remission of cancer. He had to show me that He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). That He who is in me is greater than cancer.
I had to learn that just as God puts reins and limitations on Satan, He has the same power over disease. Even cancer roams on a leash. It may do significant damage, but it never spreads apart from His control.
This is an excerpt from Kate’s memoir, A Place to Land: A Story of Longing and Belonging, published by Discovery House in 2018.
Friends I’m so pleased you got to hear from my wonderful friend Kate whose story is so encouraging no matter what life has thrown your way. It’s a joy to have her share in our Finding More series.
She is the host of Five Minute Friday, an online community that encourages and equips Christian writers, and owner of Refine Services, a company that offers writing, editing, and digital marketing services. Kate blogs at Heading Home and can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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