This past week has been the worst time of Carmen’s and my life. We have each gone through troubling and trying times, but none compare to what God has put in front of us over these last nine days. Members of our church and friends from all over the United States have been praying for us and we deeply appreciate the support. We have received hundreds of text messages, calls, emails, and Facebook posts supporting us as we fight disease and trying circumstances, and for these we are eternally grateful. If you are just catching up in this conversation, let me fill you in on what has been going on lately in the White family.
On August 19th, after a series of medical tests that took weeks to undergo, my wife, Carmen went in for a biopsy to determine whether or not she would have breast cancer. Needless to say, we were terrified and nervous as we waited for the results.
There was a bright spot to all of this madness, though.
The very next day, on August 20th, Carmen told me that she was pregnant! What great news! We had been trying to have a child for about a year and a half. We were so excited we could hardly contain ourselves, but at the same time we were cautious, not yet knowing the biopsy results.
The results came, and on August 26th Carmen was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, which is the most common form of breast cancer. Carmen is 25 years old. This should not be happening. But it is happening and we know that God is faithful even in the midst of devastating news and scary circumstances.
We traveled back to Greenville, North Carolina (2 hours from our home in Manteo, NC) the next day to meet with our medical oncologist. As it turns out, Dr. White is a strong believer who assured us she had been praying for us since she found out our diagnosis the previous day. We prayed together in her office after we discussed the treatment plan, which would focus on promoting the health of my wife and our new baby. She sent us over to the high-risk OB-GYN to get our first ultrasound that same afternoon. As it turns out, Dr. Gay is also a strong believer who prayed over us in his office. We were on top of the world! And then the world came crashing down around us.
Nothing showed up on the screen.
Dr. Gay shared over our tears that we were likely to experience a miscarriage.
The next day (yesterday), on August 28th, we lost our baby we had been praying for for so long. And we were still facing a battle against breast cancer. How could this be happening?
I still don’t have an answer. How can we stand strong and proclaim that God is good in the midst of the hardest season of our life to date? How can we rest in God’s sovereign plan when we must stare down a disease that is not supposed to impact the life of a 25 year old woman? How can we believe in the power of prayer when we experienced the sorrow of losing our first baby just eight days after we experienced the joy of pregnancy?
I don’t know…
But here’s what we’ve decided: God IS good. He DOES have a plan. He DOES hear our prayers. He DOES care. He is NOT mean. He IS kind and gracious. He IS worthy of worship. And so we will worship Him. Because He is good. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, God is good.
I have prayed more prayers and cried more tears in the past 9 days than I probably ever have before in my life. Yesterday, I wanted to rip my clothes, dress in burlap, sit in ashes, shave my head, and just grieve for the rest of my life. (In case you missed it, that’s like every method of grief mentioned in the Bible). But today? Today, I will glorify God. I will trust Him. I will worship, even through tears and even though the flesh resists. Why? Because of God. Notice David’s response when God caused his unborn son to become sick in 2 Samuel 12:15-25:
And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and he became sick. David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
Then David comforted his wife, Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her, and she bore a son, and he called his name Solomon. And the Lord loved him and sent a message by Nathan the prophet. So he called his name Jedidiah, because of the Lord.
How did David respond to his baby’s sickness?
He fasted and prayed while the situation played out. I did too.
He wept for his child. I did too. A lot.
He held out hope, saying, “Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live.” I did too.
He received the news that his child was gone. I did too.
How, then, did David respond to his baby’s death?
He got up, washed himself, changed his clothes, ate some food, and engaged the world again. I WILL TOO!
He comforted his wife. I WILL TOO!
He prayed for God to give him another child. I WILL TOO!
And God heard his prayer and gave him another child. I believe that God will hear our prayer after we finish this fight against cancer and will give us the joy of children.
Before we leave David’s story, notice David’s final response. He named his son Solomon, but God loved Solomon, so he nicknamed him Jedidiah, which means “beloved of God.” Why did he give his son the new name? Why did he worship? Why was he able to face circumstances that seemed like the world was ending? Why does the story have a happy ending? Look at the end of verse 25:
BECAUSE OF THE LORD.
Because of the Lord, my wife and I will make it through this trying time. We will lift Him high and glorify His name. We will worship God. We will endure to the end. We will be blessed BECAUSE OF THE LORD.
I want to thank everyone who has prayed for us thus far. I want to ask for your continued prayers. I want to praise God because of the way His Church has ministered to my family. And I thought I’d end this little (long) note by counting my blessings. Here are the ways God has shown His goodness throughout this situation:
- He has provided families who love us and pray for us and support us completely
- He has provided for us several church families who do the same
- He has provided for us unbelievable insurance to help cover the enormous costs that await us
- He has provided for us the certainty that we can indeed conceive
- He has provided a way now for us to more aggressively treat Carmen’s cancer
- He has provided for us the most unbelievable team of doctors that we could have imagined
- He moved us to the Outer Banks 15 months ago, where we now live only three miles from Carmen’s parents, who we will need in this battle. We also live a short drive from our amazing doctors and Carmen’s sister lives right down the road from the Breast Center. Tell me that isn’t sovereignty on display!
- He did not make us wait seven days like David to determine our child’s future
- He has given us Christ, the hope of our glory, and the strength through which we can face every situation
- He has provided for us His Word in which we can find our strength and comfort
- He has provided for us prayer, through which we can commune with Him and experience the comfort of His presence
- He has brought Carmen and I closer than ever before and has increased my love for this incredible, unbelievably amazing woman more than I ever thought possible
I cannot wait until this battle is over and we will have so many more praises to add to this list. Until then, thank you for your prayers and please keep lifting us up. We need strength and support. God is faithful and good.
P.S. This song has really ministered to me (Andrew) in really tough situations. Let it minister to you.