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Joy Bollinger

I was in the yard watching my husband run an orange extension cord from the house to a yard ornament, when Brandi, our toy poodle, became frightened of the cord. Even though I was holding and reassuring her, her fears could not be abated, and with cat-like deftness, she scurried onto my shoulder.

Instantaneously, I thought how we are very much like Brandi when we experience something unfamiliar, threatening, out of our control, out of our comfort zone, or if asked to do something, completely out of our wheelhouse. Instead of trusting and resting in God and His direction, we retreat.

Nine years ago, when my husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 Thyroid cancer, our world was suddenly turned upside-down as we faced an uncertain future. Cancer was to us, like that orange cord was to Brandi. Frightened and confused, our minds struggled to grasp the enormity of a terminal diagnosis. However, with God’s grace, we would move forward under His direction, and Michael would survive a difficult, fourteen-hour surgery that generated renewed hope.

Quickly, we both realized that our hope was not in man or what medical science could or could not do for us. Our hope had to rest in God, and that would mean pursuing Him with all of our heart, mind, and strength. He would become our ultimate source as we rested in Him rather than focusing on the grim prognosis. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower (Psalm 18:2).

Just as I am Brandi’s loving provider for all of her needs, God has always been our constant, loving provider and source of strength, particularly during this continuing battle. Despite all that I have done and continue to do for our fur-baby, in that one fearful moment, she forgot who was holding her. We are no different. When trust wanes and fear takes over, we forget Who is holding us. But God tells us to trust Him in all things and all aspects of our lives. For He gives power to the faint, and to them that have no might, He increases strength (Isaiah 40:29).

Trusting God and depending on His strength is essential in overcoming fear. The enemy will fill our mind with fearful scenarios. If we don’t discern his strategy, we become the scriptwriter, producer, director, and the staring actor in our own scary movie. We dismiss God’s gentle voice, His direction, comfort, and His promise to always be with us as He guides and directs us through the valleys and over the mountainous challenges.

Assuredly, the LORD’S hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear us when we call to Him (Isaiah 59:1). Therefore, we are not to fear, for He is with us. We are not to be dismayed, for He is our God who strengthens and helps us and upholds us with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10).

During the past nine years, the cancerous nodules in Michael’s lungs had been unchanging and stable. Then on August 1, 2017, we learned at his six-month cancer check, that the nodules had doubled in size and increased in number.

Many people don’t know that Stage 4 Thyroid cancer metastasizes into the lungs. The FDA’s approved treatment has many side affects and must be taken daily for the rest of the patient’s life, costing $14,000 a month. Ergo, Michael opted for three months of experimental treatments at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. He is the eighteenth of twenty patients enrolled in the program.

From the beginning of what has become a nine-year journey, Michael and I knew that to face this challenge and to overcome fear, we would need to make a daily, conscientious effort to trust God, for trusting Him is the key to faith. Because it is impossible to trust God if faith is misplaced in our own abilities, people, or the world’s offerings. If trust is placed in what we see instead of God’s promises, then trust and faith in God will falter. That is why it is critical to daily communicate with God. If not, we are susceptible to the enemy’s fiery-darted lies.

Satan is the great deceiver, manipulator, and distorter of all truth. Therefore, we must be able to discern between what comes from the father of lies and what comes from God, Who is the Originator of all truth. And it is truth that uncovers deceptions and extinguishes all fear.

Fear is defined as fright, panic, agitation, dread, distress, anxiety, apprehensiveness, worry, and nervousness. All of us have experienced those emotions, but unabated fear will paralyze faith. God’s Word tells us that there is no fear in love. God’s perfect love casts our fear, because fear involves torment. He who fears has not been made perfect in love (I John 4:18).

Do you see that? Fear is torment! Torment is agony, suffering, torture, pain, anguish, misery, distress, and affliction. Fear manipulates and causes us to make rash decisions. Fear denies the delivering power of God. Fear causes us to doubt God and His Word. Fear distorts and twists the truth and causes us to believe a lie. Fear misleads and misguides. But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

We are not to be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, we are to present our requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Surrendering and entrusting all to God results in a peace that goes far beyond anything that the world could offer. That is why we are urged to be strong and courageous and not be afraid, for the Lord our God goes with us and never forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Michael and I continue this journey with our hope placed in God. None of us can know the future, but each day we purposefully and expectantly place our lives in His loving hands. What better hands could we find rest, hope, and healing than in God’s hands that created us?

LORD, thank you for Your loving hand that leads and guides me over and through what appears to be insurmountable. Give me revelation of Your Word. “Show me Your ways, Lord; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long” (Psalm 25:4-5). You alone are my strength, and I will praise You, who counsels me. Help me to keep my eyes always on You, for with You at my right hand, I will not be shaken (Psalm 16:7-8). In Jesus name, amen.

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