Five years ago on May 28th I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Sometimes it's hard to believe that it's been that long. Other times it seems like an eternity. When I was diagnosed giving up was not even in my vocabulary. We were going to hit the cancer hard, get into remission, hit the 5 year mark free of cancer, and then feel like the worst was behind us. There just wasn't any other option, so the thought of giving up never even entered my mind.
Since then, I've thought about giving up. There have been times where Ive been so tired that I just don't want to be tired anymore. There have been times I have felt so sick that I thought I wasn't going to make it another couple of months. I have dealt with drug withdrawals, neuropathy, surgeries, intense pain and depression. I've been ready to give up and stop treatment. Heaven seems much more appealing.
Yet I haven't given up. Some of you might be thinking it's because of my family. Honestly, that is only a very small part of why I don't give up. The real reason I don't give up is because God hasn't let me know that it's time for me to give up. I think he has more to teach me.
Max Lucado says it this way:
My favorite line is "our optimism is not hollow". At one point my optimism focused on my healing. My optimism doesn't lie there any more, not because it's not possible, but because it's not necessary. My healing is not dependent upon how much God loves me. He proved His love for me long ago when He sent Jesus, His son, to die for me. My healing doesn't correlate with how much I love God. I love God because He has already saved me from my spiritual cancer. My optimism now focuses on all the amazing things God has done for me from the beginning of time to my death and finally at my resurrection. It's not hollow because Heaven will happen. It's not hollow because I will rise again. It's not hollow because my sins are forgiven. It's not hollow because He has shown me countless times over the past five years how much He really does love me. There is no doubt, just perfect hope.
Since He's taught me that over the past five years, I wonder what He has in store for me next.
Over the weekend I was given an amazing gift by one brother's family. It was this bonsai tree.
The unique thing about this tree is that it was started 5 years ago on May 28th. The same day I found out I had cancer and stared death in the face for the first time, this tree started it's life. In some ways it's my own personal tree of life which I now get to look at every day.
This tree got me thinking about the Tree of Life in the Bible. We all know about the one in Genesis that God placed in the Garden of Eden for Adam and Eve. But we forget about the Tree of Life that is mentioned in Revelation. The Tree of Life is in Heaven, the place where our paradise we lost is now restored. Revelation 22:14 says "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city." Because of what Jesus has done for us, our robes are clean by His blood. We now have the right to this Tree of Life. We will be in Heaven forever.
So why don't I give up? It's not because I know I will be healed. There is no guarantee in that. It's not because I need to be here for my family. God will take care of them if it's time for me to go home. I don't give up because God will never, ever fail me. I don't give up because He will lead me through whatever comes my way. I don't give up because my God will take me home to live with Him forever. That's why I don't give up. That's why none of us ever need to give up.