Sicks Pax

Our circumstances and our hearts

Posted in Cancer,Coping with Cancer,Sara by sicks on July 22, 2008

Now to him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21

These verses have always been some of my favorites—words that give great hope and excitement. In my mid- to later-20s, I read these passages a lot as I prayed for a husband, and the Lord certainly provided in my husband Chris. More than 10 years later, I have reflected on these verses again during my battle with breast cancer. I realize now that I have always viewed these verses only in regard to circumstances. I still believe that they can provide hope when we long for help with a particular circumstance. But, I now think these words are more about the incredible things God can do in our heartsin the midst of our circumstances. The verses that precede these all refer to our hearts and our inner being, not our circumstances.

Through this ordeal with cancer, I am witnessing changes in my heart as a result of the direct intervention of the Lord—changes that are quite stunning and above what I could have imagined he could do. I know the Lord is turning me into a different woman and I am thankful. God receives glory—i.e. he is seen for who he really is—when people are transformed by presence in their lives. It is always inspiring to witness the peace, contentment and joy certain believers possess as they face trials. They are an inspiration to all of us and hopefully create a longing in our hearts for the same possessions.

May we all surrender to him the circumstances of our lives, whether they be paper cuts or the blows of a sledge hammer. We need him for both. Let’s let him accomplish what he’s after, which is always “exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or imagine.” It’s a tall task to surrender but he will create in us this ability if we ask. Then our job is to witness the exciting and incredible plans he has for us, sometimes in our circumstances and always in our hearts.

Lastly, I have a couple prayer requests for my “circumstances.” I am feeling mostly pretty good but naturally, my blood levels (white blood count, red blood count and a host of other elements) are declining as a result of 4-5 months of chemotherapy. This is very normal for cancer patients under treatment and is a good sign that lots of good and bad stuff is being killed in my body. Would you pray that the Lord would protect me from illness while I am immuno-compromised and that I wouldn’t dip too low? Also, I am having trouble sleeping even though I take prescription sleep meds. As I type, it’s 1:30am and I am awake. I know I need plenty of rest during this time so it’s frustrating to be awake! Thank you for your prayers and for checking in with the Sicks family!

Love, Sara


To rest between His shoulders

Posted in Cancer,Coping with Cancer,Sara by sicks on May 2, 2008

“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him,
for he shields him all day long,
and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.”
Deuteronomy 33:12

We were created to lean back into the Lord like a woman reclines her back into a man’s body with his arms around her. It is a loving body position and shows intimacy between the two people. In this position, the woman rests in the man’s strength and feels secure, protected and loved. I think this verse is referring to the kind of relationship his beloved children were designed to have with the Lord, where we are leaning into him in all areas of our life. I believe this was perhaps our natural positioning with the Lord before the fall of man. But after the fall when sin entered the world, our body position with the Lord changed. The Lord still desires that we would rest between his shoulders–that we would be completely dependent on him. But because our sin and waywardness, we choose to put distance between ourselves and our first love and seek other things to satisfy us. As it says in Isaiah 53:6, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Through my ordeal with cancer, I have realized that I have run into the arms of other lovers. I am not speaking of my relationship with my husband Chris, but about my relationship with the Lord. There are other lovers that I seek because I think they will bring me comfort, satisfaction and joy. Some of my lovers are having nice clothes, an organized home, constant fun and laughter with others, a respectable to do list, children who obey me. None of these things of course are bad in an of themselves, but making them into a lover takes it beyond a healthy point. So even though I am a follower of Christ, my life at times is filled with dissatisfaction and emptiness. Part of that reason, I believe, is because my heart is wrapped around other lovers.

I have struggled tremendously this past week with the whole idea of suffering. This struggle is not at all limited to my personal battle with breast cancer, but lies more in why a loving God allows so much suffering in this world. This is hardly a new question but it has hit me so hard. I have not only been terribly angry with the Lord, but confused and quite scared of him. I couldn’t even sing praise songs in church this past week because I couldn’t say any of those words to him.

One of my conclusions is that the Lord allows suffering because it hopefully sends us running back into the arms of our first love to resume that loving body position I described earlier. The Lord doesn’t need to be in that position, but we were made to live like that. It is in that position that we are fully satisfied and we are our true selves. We were made to be bound to his presence. He is a jealous God and will go to great lengths to show us our dependency on him. He is jealous for our satisfaction and joy.  Through Christ’s death on the cross, I now have access to God’s loving arms and am able to resume that intimate body position.  I still do not understand a lot about suffering but I know that the Lord is using my suffering to pry me out the arms of my other lovers so that I can rest fully in his arms where I belong.


“The Healing Power of Afflictions” article

Posted in Cancer,Coping with Cancer,Sara by sicks on April 11, 2008

I would like to include a link to a wonderful article about affliction by David Wilkerson. My friend Rachel shared it with me yesterday. It blew my socks off and I will be marinating myself in it for months. It you want a good read, click here.



In the wilderness: emotions up and down, and God speaks tenderly

Posted in Cancer,Coping with Cancer,Sara by sicks on April 7, 2008

I thought I’d give folks a snapshot of how we’re doing these days.

Chemo was harder last week than the first go around. Thankfully the effects last for about four days so you can count those down. For me, the harder road is the emotional and spiritual side effects of this cancer–the battle in my brain. I go up and down, back and forth, and at times I feel like the waves in an ocean. A friend of ours just wrote on this blog a quote from a pastor named Rob Bell: “Maturity is when your convictions and beliefs drive the bus and tell your thoughts and feelings ‘you sit there’.” Pretty cool. I would love this to be true of me all the time. Our friend Sarah credited us with living out this quote but I am not so sure that is accurate (sorry Sarah!). So I guess my prayer request would be that it would be true of my heart and that I would not be so subject to my emotions.

Our pastor Tom Holliday preached yesterday that God leads his bride into the wilderness to speak tenderly to her (from Hosea). Wow. It had not occurred to me that he allowed this so he could speak tenderly to me. Tom said that when we are in the city our ears can get plugged and we can’t hear the Lord. So at times, God leads us out to the desert where we able to listen to him. Well, the Lord certainly has my attention in this wilderness and I want to fully hear and receive the words he wants to share. Speak tenderly, Lord, speak!

More to come soon on bad wig days and my journey to find a different wig. You know how it is… women and our hair…. well, it can get complicated. We’ll also share pics!

Love, Sara

“Causing you to hunger…”

Posted in Chris,Coping with Cancer,Scripture by sicks on March 20, 2008

Here are two words, which do you prefer?
Suffering, or Glory?

None of us want suffering in our lives, right? But it’s remarkable how intertwined these two concepts are in scripture.

Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? (Lk 24:26)

Jesus was explaining to the confused disciples that his death was not a deviation from God’s plan, although it was contrary to their plans. They thought they were getting a Messiah king who would overthrow Roman oppression and lead them back the glorious days of David and Solomon.

Instead, they got a guy who touched lepers, spoke to adulterous Samaritan women and ate with the rejects of society. Then, he was executed with a couple of criminals. No wonder they were bummed out on Easter morning.

We, too, would prefer glory to suffering, but scripture repeatedly tells us that you can’t have one without the other. Think of Joseph–sold into slavery, imprisoned wrongly, but eventually running all of Egypt. Think about Ruth and Naomi. And Hosea’s cheating wife Gomer, who brought into the home children that weren’t his. And King David hiding in caves from his own murderous son. And the Egyptian first born, slain while the Jewish children slept.

And those 40 years in the desert. Talk about suffering. But it was suffering that God brought upon them for a purpose. Note that God caused them to hunger, for two reasons:

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deut 8:3)

His reasons were 1) To humble them, to shake them out of their self-reliance and make them fully dependent upon God. And 2) To teach them that they needed more than bread to live, more than material resources. That a glorious life is one lived in full reliance upon the Creator.

Sometimes we need to suffer to remember this, to be made helpless enough to seek divine assistance. But he loves us enough to cause our hunger, our suffering. Because that’s when we see the glory of the One who suffered everything, so that we can endure hardship in the secure knowledge that we are safe in his loving hand. Safer and more loved than we ever knew before the suffering came along.


Do I have to be so dependent?

Posted in Cancer,Coping with Cancer,Sara by sicks on February 26, 2008

To be quite honest, I wish I didn’t have to depend on God so much. One of the reasons I didn’t want to be stage 3 was because I wanted the best odds of being healed by man, rather than depending fully on God for my healing. (I have chosen not to know any of my “odds,” by the way, so please refrain from commenting here about ANY of that. Stage 3, by the way, is curable). But the fact of the matter is that I need him desperately on many fronts: to heal both my body and my sin. For my peace. To battle my fears and to see my situation through the lens of his reality.

I suppose I am being shown God’s reality — that we were created to need him and depend on him fully. I am so accustomed to relying on God AND my gifts and resources. But he has removed everything else and only his mighty hand remains.

The fact of the matter is that God is the sustainer of my life (Psalm 27), and he has determined the number of my days before my life began (Psalm 139). My job is to believe these Truths, not any “truths” about the percentages or odds. If you choose to pray for me, would you please pray that I am enabled to believe what God has said to me and not what my fears say? Also, that I will rest in those promises and surrender to him. When I surrender to him fully, that’s when I find peace. Peace is possible when we allow God to rule areas of our lives. God’s ruling our circumstances and our peace are directly linked.

These battles of the mind are the areas that I fear much more than the tough chemo in the next six months. (Chris has said that he’s more concerned about my heart than my body.) May Christ be victorious in the battle for my mind — and in my body.


Will God Heal?

Posted in Chris,Coping with Cancer,Scripture by sicks on February 24, 2008

A couple of weeks ago, Sara was reading Psalm 103, and asked for my opinion on a verse:

2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits–

3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases

“Can I take this as a promise that God will heal me?” Sara asked. Good question. In our doubt and fear and anxiety, scripture has been a great encouragement. God’s promises mean a lot when everything else is shaking loose. But what to make of Sara’s question?

Particularly challenging for us was the memory of a dear friend, father of two young children, full-time in ministry to college students, cherished by his wife…well, he died of cancer about 3 years ago. If the Lord could take him, why not Sara? And if this young man died, what do we make of “heals all your diseases“? That didn’t seem to hold true in our friend’s case. What do these words mean in Sara’s case?

I’ve come to a few conclusions. First, this psalm was written by David. He had experienced God’s healing when he was very sick. (Psalm 30.) He knew that God was capable of healing. That’s conclusion #1 — with David we follow a God who can heal.

But he doesn’t always heal. David’s first-born died. (2 Samuel 12:13-25) Our friend died. So, why, we ask, does it say God “heals all your diseases“? Here’s an interesting thing I learned: when you find sweeping, grandiose promises like this in the Old Testament, promises that go far beyond human experience or capability, then you are being pointed to Christ. David spoke about God from first-hand knowledge, but he also spoke of things he didn’t fully understand. David wrote of his descendant Jesus who would come to forgive all our sins, and heal all our diseases. Christ’s suffering and victory mean that we will one day live in perfect bodies that will never be sick, will never perish. That’s conclusion #2. Although our friend did not receive physical healing in this life, he now dwells in perfect painless peace forever.

Does Psalm 103 tell us anything about Sara, her cancer and her prognosis? No. It wasn’t written about her. It was written about the God who can, does and will heal. As we face the uncertainty of battling cancer, and are threatened by doubt and fear, God’s Word is providing us with solid rocks of Truth to depend upon.


Update from Sara

Posted in Cancer,Coping with Cancer,Sara by sicks on February 15, 2008

I am enjoying days with zero responsibility at my parents’ house in Fredericksburg after surgery. What a weird experience compared to life at our house with 3 little kids. I am loving this opportunity to heal in peace and quiet. I am spending my days by reading and watching movies — how delightful!

At the same time, I sometimes feel like the character Much-Afraid in Hannah Hurnard’s “Hinds’ Feet on High Places.” On her journey to the heights, the Good Shepherd picks for her two companions: Sorrow and Suffering. She is bewildered by this and thinks he surely has made a mistake.

“I can’t go with them,” she gasped. “I can’t! I can’t! O my Lord Shepherd, why do you do this to me? How can I travel in their company? It is more than I can bear. You tell me that the mountain way itself is so steep and difficult that I cannot climb it alone. Then why, oh why, must you make Sorrow and Suffering my companions? Couldn’t you have given Joy and Peace to go with me, to strengthen me and encourage me on the difficult way? I never thought you would do this to me.”

I know some of you reading this believe that this cancer is not the will of God. That’s okay — we can disagree and still follow Christ together. I do not join you in that belief. I believe the Lord did allow this for a reason and I intend to learn from it. Through it all, he joins me in my grief, carries me and offers his presence and loving-kindness.

Staying with the theme from “Hinds’ Feet…”, I haven’t yet fully entered the suffering part of this journey with cancer, but I am now well-acquainted with sorrow. Like Much-Afraid, I also would prefer my companions Sorrow and Suffering to flee, yet I believe God has placed them by my side for a purpose. Thankfully, we are not alone. The great Jehovah, Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Prince of Peace is with me. This fact makes all the difference. At the beginning of this journey a month ago, I was somewhat startled at verses that say, “Do not be afraid. I am with you.” I thought, “Don’t be afraid — are you kidding me?!” But I believe it is the second part of the verse that sheds light on the first part. The very God spoken of in Psalms 104 and at the end of the book of Job — it is he who walks alongside me and carries me.

Right now what God offers me is his presence. This is God’s A+++++++++++ gift and it is the absolute best that he could offer. I must admit that sometimes I look at that gift and say, “can you give me your presence AND the assurance of my healing?” I want them both at the same time. While I believe that he will very likely heal me using the incredible treatments available today, I long for his 100% assurance of healing as well. But the answer to that question will come later. Right now he offers his presence in the darkness.

Our pastor Tom Holliday recently preached that it is in the darkness that we see the face of God, rather than when we are in the palace. We think we can see him more in the palace. We’d much rather meet him there! But he is more visible to us when we are in darkness and need. Just yesterday, I was discouraged in the morning and asked if I could see God’s face. I received some surprise visitors, 3 very good friends who drove down to Fredericksburg to visit. After they left, my husband Chris surprised me with 3 dozen roses and a Valentine’s gift. I do believe that the Lord showed me his face yesterday in the faces of loved ones. I know he will continue to show me his face in a variety of ways.

Through this cancer ordeal, I have learned dependency on the Lord. I have never needed him like I do right now. I think of the song, “I Need Thee Every Hour,” and it rings true. This is a good place to be.

In Hurnard’s story, Much-Afraid eventually gets a new name. As for me, there are I feel my name is still Much-Afraid. But slowly, God is giving me a new name. Perhaps it is “God Confident” or “Christ is Sufficient” or “Follower of the King.” Whatever my name is to become, God is leading the way, one hour at a time, offering his most precious gift — his presence. For that, I am grateful.