"But He knoweth the way that
I take; when He hath tried me,
I shall come forth as gold"
The past twenty-two months have been rough. They have been a time of trial and testing. A time of wondering and waiting. A time of feeling helpless as I watched my sister endure pain and suffering from chemo, side effects of chemo and from the dreaded disease itself that the chemo was seeking to conquer. A time that I certainly don't want to relive. The past twenty-two months have been a time of putting feet to our faith.
At the beginning of this journey that started July 30, 2012, God gave me a scripture for my sister. It was Job 23:10. Through His Word, He was telling her, as well as all of her family and loved ones, that He was certainly aware of what she was going through. He knew the path that she was on. It certainly didn't take Him by surprise. But He also was saying that after the time of testing was over, she would emerge as gold. I took that literally and I took that as a promise.
Every Sunday morning at our church we have a healing service and I began standing in for my sister right after her diagnosis. Shortly after I began to do this, God impressed upon my heart that she was to write VICTORY on the last page of her journal. I relayed this message to her right after church that day and it took her several weeks to muster up the strength of spirit to do this, but she finally did. And we have been holding on to that revelation from God with a tight grip ever since.
We have been on a roller coaster ride throughout this time. It has been a series of ups and downs. Good news and bad news. Good days and not so good days. Two steps forward and one step back. There have been times where it seemed more like one step forward and two steps back.
I can't even begin to imagine the emotions that my sister has had to experience. My heart has been so burdened for her and I have felt so helpless much of the time. There has been nothing that I could do other than encourage her with scripture and petition my God for her healing daily. I have cried out on her behalf for almost two years and will continue to do so until the day that her VICTORY becomes reality.
After a failed stem cell transplant back in April of 2013, my sister felt the agony of defeat. It had been a long and grueling process and we had such high hopes of its success. But ironically, on July 30, 2013 - a year to the day after her initial diagnosis of Multiple Myeloma - she got the news that the transplant was not successful. My mother, my brother-in-law, my sister and I walked out of the hospital almost in stunned silence. We were devastated on the inside, yet none of us was willing to show that devastation to the others. It's almost like we couldn't voice it because we didn't want to hear the words flow from our mouths.
It was like a bad dream that we didn't really want to wake up from because we weren't sure of where to go from there. But we did. And we began the next leg of the journey. My sister started a new chemo regimen and the testing and the waiting started all over again.
The cancer that my sister has manifests itself by producing too many of the same kind of protein. So every few weeks she has specific blood work done to count the number of proteins present in her blood. The blood is sent off to Mayo Clinic and it takes a week or two to get the results back. Waiting and more waiting is the name of the game and it isn't a fun game to play. It gets old fast.
We finally saw a drop in the proteins a tenth of a point at a time. It would go from point 8 to point 7. And then we would see no change for several months. One time it was almost 4 months and no change. But during that time, I kept saying 'No change is good! It means that the chemo is holding the disease at bay!" We kept our focus on God and what He had done thus far. Even throughout all the trials and all the hard times, God had been so faithful to my sister! He had held her and He had carried her and He had strengthened her and He had been her portion and her shield! There were lots of things that could have happened that didn't. We saw His hand on her life over and over again. And I never lost hope. I was still looking to that VICTORY that was coming.
We saw several more drops in her proteins a tenth of a point at a time. The the last one several months ago was down to point 3. When the proteins are down to 0 in her bloodstream, there are still tests that have to be done to test the bone marrow. But we have to take it one step at a time.
During the past few months, there have been many other problems that my sister has had to deal with. She has developed cataracts on both eyes due to the high doses of steroids that she takes with her chemo. She has had joint problems in her hand and wrist from the disease itself. She has undergone many painful injections trying to give her some pain relief in her back and hip due to the tumors on her spine from the type of cancer she has.
The good news? The last MRI showed that she is starting to get some new bone growth on her spine as the dead myeloma cells are being pushed out. That is a huge praise! We will continue to pray for more bone growth and more dead cells! She got her blood work results back today from Mayo and her protein counts are what they call "too low to quantify". What does that mean? It means that our God is working overtime on her healing! It means that if there are protein cells present, the number is so small they couldn't be counted. That, my friends, is a HUGE PRAISE!!!
Now we watch the numbers over the next several months and then we will go from there. But for now, I am overwhelmed at the goodness of God. I am overwhelmed at the promise of His Word. I can't even being to put into words how grateful I am to my sweet Savior for the love that He has lavished on my sister and my family. He has held us, my friends. He has supported our heads when we didn't think we could hold them up. He has given us the strength to take that next step when we didn't know where to put our foot down. He has encouraged and enlightened and embraced us with the mighty and powerful Hands that created all things.
And the tears that are falling as I type this are the tears of an unworthy servant of God who is simply a grateful recipient of His generous grace. I am astounded by His love. But I receive it hungrily and I give Him all the praise and glory that is due His Name.
For now? I praise Him with all the breath that is in me. I continue to believe that He is working a healing in my sister. I grab onto the promise of VICTORY and take that next step forward with Him. He is faithful and He is abundant and He is true. And I love Him with all that is in me.
"I cried unto the LORD with my voice, and He heard
me out of His holy hill."