He Was Always By My Side
Around May and June this year, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe with two of my closest friends. It was to be my first long holiday, in more than 10 years, without the kids or husband. We were going to climb some Swiss mountains!
Just before the trip, during a routine breast self-examination, I discovered a lump that bothered me. I told no one but asked the Lord for time, as this trip was important to me. Upon my return, I went for an ultrasound. The radiologist was concerned and ordered a biopsy. I had to wait for four days for the results. As I drove home, I couldn’t control my emotions. Fear crept in.
I went to see my sister-in-law, who is a cancer survivor and intercessor. She said she believed that God has equipped me in my character to deal with what was in store. As she is prophetic, I had hoped she would say, “I prayed, and I’m certain it’s not cancer.”
In the days leading to the biopsy results, the Holy Spirit was stirring within me. It was as though God was assuring me, but in an indecipherable language. However, at one point, I felt Him ask, “Do you trust me? You sing all these songs about surrendering to me and going where I lead, but do you mean the words?” Then, “Just surrender. Trust me. Surrender all to me.” Right there, I released myself completely into God’s hands.
There was a surreal sense of acceptance when on July 11th, my doctor explained the precancerous lump in my breast. It was between Stage 0 and 1, currently contained within the milk duct, but ready to break lose. Due to my family history, I was advised to remove the breast completely. I was offered a skin-sparing mastectomy with immediate breast reconstruction. The surgery involved the removal and transfer of a muscle from my back and was set for July 19th—one week away. I felt much peace to proceed as advised.
That night, God gave me a vivid picture of a girl lying on her side—almost in a fetal position—in a clear pool of calm water. She was at complete rest. For the next few days, that was exactly how I felt. God also reminded me of Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid…” I was moved to journal every verse and song given by those praying for me, and anything God impressed on me. I embraced and stood on each promise.
My friend sent me the song “Sovereign Over Us” by Michael W. Smith. The words were incredibly pertinent, “You meet us in our mourning with a love that casts out fear… Beyond our understanding, You’re teaching us to trust… You are with us in the fire and the flood… What the enemy means for evil, You turn it for our good…”
I don’t know how I got through that week, but I know this—God was with me. And He provided such support from family and friends whose love and prayers upheld me. I tried to process the negatives but couldn’t. It was as though God was shielding my mind.
After a few visits, my sister wrote, “Sarah, I’m just amazed at how calm and peaceful you have been. Truly it’s the peace of God that passes all understanding!” However, two days before the surgery I panicked. I spoke to my doctor cousins. They assured me that I was doing the right thing.
Then God gave me another picture—of me standing in those cool, airy Swiss mountains I had just climbed. It was such a powerful thing. I literally began to sense that I was atop those mountains again. This sensation remained until two days after the surgery. While others felt I was going through a dark valley, I felt on top of the world.
Before surgery, my experienced surgeon had mentioned the possibility of chemo or years of anti-hormone treatment. Step by step it was revealed that I would need none of those. Instead God gave many assurances through others that what He tears down, no one can rebuild.
Life has changed in many ways since the surgery. Simple things like writing, sneezing, or lifting causes pain and discomfort. There are lifelong inconveniences to adjust to. The Internet is littered with bleak stories about the future of people who have had such a surgery. But I refuse to dwell on these or become anxious. Instead, I wake up every morning and count my blessings. We caught it early. God gave me many “presents” and such support from husband, family, and friends. He was in the finest details. Oh, the stories I could tell about how God went before us and fitted everything into place in such perfect timing!
I don’t know what lies ahead, but I know this—God’s mercy and goodness will follow me there. “Courage rests upon the assurance of God’s presence and God’s presence drives out fear and confusion.” – Exodus 33:14-15
– Sarah Sabaratnam