Because of this experience, when Diana was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer I began immediately to pray for a miracle. I wanted God to heal my wife in that same way that He had miraculosuly healed my mother. I knew, however, that may not happen right away, even as my mother had reached her death bed before being healed. I was determined to fight this battle alongside my wife with confidence and hope that at the right time God would miraculously remove the cancer from Diana's body.
It was only a few weeks into the battle when I was praying for a miracle once again that God spoke to me, as clearly as He ever has. He said, "Bob, I will be glorified in this, not by my power, but by your faith." I understood what that meant. God was not going to use His divine power to work a miracle of healing for Diana. Instead, He wanted me to give a testimony of his power at work in the midst of illness and even death, to strengthen the faith of others around me.
I did not tell Diana about what God had said to me at the time. I only shared that with her when she was clearly near the end of her life here on earth. I didn't want her to lose hope in her battle with the cancer or to give up the fight. I guess I secretly was still hoping against hope that she would somehow beat it, even though the doctor had clearly told us from our first visit that this disease would claim her life, and nothing he would do could change that.
At the time when God spoke to me, I interpreted His words as a command. I believed that God was telling me that I needed to be strong and courageous as I took care of Diana and fought alongside her. I believed that God wanted me to keep a journal of the ways we could see His hand at work even in the midst of Diana's illness and suffering. That's part of the reason I was faithful to keep this Caring Bridge site updated regularly throughout the fight.
As I was riding my bike today and listening to some Christian music a new thought dawned on me that had never occured to me before. I had misunderstood God's words when He spoke to me early on in Diana's illness. I had interpreted them as a command directed at me. Instead, today I understood, more than two years later, that they were not a command and they were not directed only to me.
God's words were a promise for both Diana and for me. God was not demanding that I keep the faith or give a strong witness to my faith. Instead, God was promising that Diana's faith and my faith would be more than enough to carry us through this most difficult circumstance ever in our life together. It was God's way of encouraging us and giving us hope. It was a promise that our faith would not fail, that we would not turn way from Him in bitterness or anger because of this illness. It was a promise that He would keep our faith strong and steadfast so that we could endure the trials and trust Him in the losses.
I now understand why Diana was such an incredibly easy patient to care for, always positive, always hopeful, always patient, and always faith-filled. This was God's promise and He kept it. I now understand why when i sat down to write a journal entry, no matter how difficult the day had been, I could always see the hand of God at work in our lives, and He would almost always direct my mind to a Word of Scripture that was pertinent to our situation, or a promise from Scripture that He had kept. Now I understand.
"I will be glorified in this, not by my power but by your faith." Those words were God's promise, His promise to me and His promise to Diana. God kept His promise and He deserves to be glorified. Is there a Word from God, perhaps even a Scripture passage, that you have interpreted as a command, but that God means as a promise? Cling to God's promises. His promises are always true!