The diagnosis came back as cancer of the tongue---a harsh diagnosis for Rose, in her final days of a two-year Master’s in Translation and Interpretation. Her tongue mattered for her future career. What was God thinking?
Rose came to the United States as a lukewarm believer. She had converted from her nominal Buddhist background to Christianity during her college years, when others had shared their conversion experiences with her. She observed prosperity in the believing friends she knew and reasoned that Christianity made sense, thinking, “Maybe God gives you more blessings if you choose to be a Christian.”
Rose experienced many positives during those early months as a believer. Everything seemed to fall into place. However, over time, Rose grew more complacent in her faith as she struggled with the demands placed on her from school, home, and plans for the future. She found it easier and easier to become a “Sunday Christian” and put her faith on the back burner.
Fast-forward several years to her cancer diagnosis---never a smoker or drinker, this just didn’t seem fair. Rose had just received a good job offer to stay in America for a year under an Optional Practical Training agreement! Through those dark and lonely days, Rose confided that she couldn’t see God in this situation.
As she faced the decision to remain in America for treatment or to go back home where she understood the system better, we spent a lot of time together praying. Slowly but surely, clarity came. Through those long prayer sessions, God told her to go back to her family and turn down the job opportunity in America.
We said goodbye, but not forever. Over the years, we continued to correspond. About one year after the cancer diagnosis, she wrote us, “I’m in a great cell group right now and have made many friends. My faith in Him has never been so firm and sure. I can feel the Holy Spirit dwelling in me every day! I believe there is something even better and more wonderful in the future. I’m glad that God has brought me back to my country and made me see what I can do for Him in this precious land. We have a group of dynamic, energetic, passionate people here at our church. We’re eager to bring more young people to God!”
Rose had a much-needed operation and subsequently lost a good portion of her tongue. A biopsy revealed that the cancer had remained localized, but she also underwent radiation and chemotherapy as a precaution. Finally, the doctors pronounced her cancer-free! After extensive rehabilitation therapy to regain the use of her tongue, she learned how to use this vital instrument in new ways and eventually communicated very well with others.
Throughout the whole ordeal, Rose’s family stood by her, supporting and loving her. As Rose regained the ability to speak, she overflowed with praise to God and openly shared about this God of redemption who loved her enough to take her through this journey and make her whole again. She shared most intensely with her family. Her father and sister put their faith in Jesus, but her mother held out. Her mother couldn’t reconcile the idea of a good God letting her daughter go through something like this.
A few years later, Rose’s mother received her own cancer diagnosis, Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She had only days…weeks…to live. Rose spent every possible moment sharing God’s love with her mother and praying for her. Finally, in her mother’s final lucid days, she asked Jesus into her heart!
Although a career in oral interpretation was no longer possible, Rose came to realize that God had developed the gift of teaching in her heart. In time, Rose received a teaching position at a prominent university in her bustling Asian city. She now reaches out to her students with Christ’s love and has led many to a relationship with Jesus. Best of all, Rose can look back and see God’s tender hand throughout her life, and the way He used the hardships to creatively draw many others to Himself and His gift of eternal life.
God’s plans often differ from ours. Sometimes what He allows us to go through seems painful and confusing. However, we can remain confident that His ultimate goal is to make us who He created us to be. May we become effective conveyors of His love and truth, even when we walk through hardship and difficulties.
All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.
Submitted by: Caroline, California