Recently I had to wait five days for the results of a biopsy that would tell me whether I had cancer. For most of those days I was able to stay busy, keeping myself distracted from dwelling on the possibilities. But the last day before I received the pathology report was the longest day of my life and I allowed my mind to have its way with me.
A nagging fear settled into the pit of my stomach and quickly grew out of control. What if I did have cancer? What would I do? How would I respond? Ever the planner, I tried some reactions on for size, just in case.
“That sucks.” Ridiculous understatement.
“Oh, God, no!” Too desperate and terrified.
“Can I get a second opinion?” Disbelief, denial, confusion, shock.
Like millions who have waited for this news before me, I cried out to God, asking him for the obvious. Then I prayed the prayer that never fails: “Lord, please take this cup from me. Yet not my will, but yours be done.” Finally, I turned to the Psalms, my bridge over troubled waters.
“Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:1-3 (KJV).
The Hebrew for “look up” used here means to look about, as one would from a watch tower. The New International Version translates it as “wait expectantly.” According to one commentator, “it refers to a tower which has a wide prospect. The idea here is properly that he would watch, narrowly and carefully (as one does who is stationed on a tower), for some…answer to his prayer.” – Barnes’ Notes on the Bible.
Another commentator indicates the Hebrew phrase for “look up” used by the psalmist “is expressive of hope, expectation, faith, and confidence, that an answer would be returned; and therefore the psalmist determines to look upwards to heaven, whither he directed his prayer, and from whence the answer must come; and to look out from his watch tower, where he was waiting for it, and to continue patiently expecting it till he had it.” – Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible.
Like the psalmist, I waited expectantly, if not patiently. I could not know how God would answer my prayer, but I knew that he had heard and would answer. Perhaps not with the pass I desperately desired, but I trusted the only Trustworthy One to walk with me, come what may, and to accomplish his purposes in and through me, even as I pleaded for relief.
After five days of waiting, I was thankful and relieved to hear that I don’t have cancer. Sadly, millions of others have had, and do, and will have cancer. Why did God take this cup from me and not them? I don’t know. Nobody but God knows. We live in a sinful, broken, disease-ridden world and bad things happen to good people and vice versa all the time. Life is not fair.
For me, the only path to peace in the midst of life’s chaos, trial and tragedy is trust. When I do not trust God, I am adrift, putting my hope in things that are temporary, fickle and fragile like bank accounts, good health, friends, family, and my own strength and abilities. When I put my trust in the Lord, he anchors me to that which is unseen, solid, and eternal – himself.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7.
“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13.
Lord – please help us to lay our requests before you and to look up. Make us eager and expectant for your answer and give us peace as we wait and trust in you.