Cancer: A Most Unusual Gift


How can we trust in God and His plan for us when things aren't going our way?

My heart raced to grasp the surgeon’s life-changing words: “I’m about to tell you, Mrs. Gaul, you have cancer.”

A myriad of emotions, thoughts, and questions pummeled my soul in the face of such a diagnosis. In the weeks that followed, waves of information, medical research, and personal opinion arrived daily, at times laced with shadows of fear and “what-if” scenarios. 

But in those surreal early hours following the diagnosis, the Spirit of God seemed to whisper, “This is a gift of My love, Carrie; you must receive it in that way.” Philippians 1:29 immediately came to mind:  

“For to you it has been granted [gifted] for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake.” (Phil. 1:29)

Salvation a gift of God’s love? Absolutely! But suffering? That’s a gift most of us (myself included) would rather not receive. 

My natural response to suffering goes more like this, “Run the other way; avoid it at all cost!” How could that which brings pain and loss, sadness, struggle, and heartache ever be considered a gift?

You see, cancer didn’t invade my life randomly or without purpose. It wasn’t a surprise to my Heavenly Father; nor an instrument meant for my punishment or destruction (Lam. 3:32–33). This suffering came as a gift...graciously and tenderly granted from the nail-scarred hands of One well acquainted with suffering...the Savior who suffered willingly so we might receive the greatest gift of Love: eternal life. 

I’ll never fully grasp all the complexities of human suffering and God’s sovereignty. But cancer is helping me understand a bit more that my Father’s good and perfect gifts (James 1:17) are, at times, manifested as trials (Gen. 50:20). That suffering is not uncommon to those walking with Jesus (1 Peter 4:12), but is only for a little while and is often for a much greater purpose than we could ever comprehend (1 Peter 1:6–9). 

This gift called cancer has brought a fresh awareness of my Father’s unchanging love (Rom. 8:28–29), and a deeper realization of just how weak and desperately needy I truly am. I’m so thankful Jesus sees that as a good thing (2 Cor. 12:10) and is tenderly shepherding me through each step of this journey!

Would I have chosen the circumstances of these last five months? Not in a million years. But would I have missed the numerous ways I’ve experienced God’s unfailing love and mercies through it? Never!  

Our Heavenly Father’s ways are indescribably higher and better than ours. Because of that, I can say without hesitation, “Thank you, Lord for this gift of cancer.”  

Have you received a “most unusual gift” from God this year?

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