In May 2018, my wife was diagnosed with Stage4 cancer. This was devastating news to us and immediately shifted our attention to my wife’s health as this happened just two years after adopting our three daughters from India. During those two years, we focused our energy on defining family for our children, developing connections, and putting them on a pathway to healing emotionally while building on new spiritual foundation. There was little time for anything else; building family memories, mommy-daughter or daddy-daughter dates, and teaching the Bible to new English learners takes time. We didn’t have time for cancer.

“Hear my cry, O God; listento my prayer. From the ends of the earthI call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that ishigher than I.” – Psalm 61:1-2

Overwhelmed. Thiswas the lot in life that God has given us. We remembered Job asked, “shall we acceptonly good things from God and not calamity?” (Job 2:10) This was the questionthat we asked ourselves. We called on God even as our hearts grew faint. We embraced suffering as an opportunity tolean on God, build a deeper faith, and step out of the way so God could receivehis glory. We found solace, comfort, andpeace in an unshakeable God.

A lesson from history. “Nuts”is a quote made famous made by General Anthony McAuliffe during the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. The Battle of the Bulge was the last real effort by Nazi Germany to push back the allies who were pushing very aggressively through Europe to retake lands that were occupied by the Germans. General McAuliffe’s 101st Airborne Division was surrounded by German ground forces and their deadly 88mm anti-tank guns in the small town of Bastogne, Belgium. The Americans held their ground until they could get resupplied and reinforcements. The Germans offered in writing for the American forces to surrender since they were surrounded. Knowing that his army was out gunned and out manned, General McAuliffe simply responded:

December 22, 1944  To the German Commander,  N U T S !  The American Commander

As to say, “we are not going anywhere” this situation was exactly what the 101st Airborne was designed for. To be surrounded by the enemy and still win. They courageously held their ground and eventually pushed their way through the German lines, and within months the back of Nazi Germany was completely broken.

Present suffering and future glory. This is the same way the Christian religion was designed to operate. Even Job said, “Shall we not accept good from God and not trouble?” (Job 2:10) We often feel surrounded by the ‘spiritual forces in this dark world’ and in our case‘trials of many kind’ intended to test our faith so that it can be ‘proven genuine… may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed’ (1 Peter1:6-7). There are so many scriptures that echo the fact that suffering is indeed part of God’s plan:

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” – Romans 8:17-19

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So, we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

It is our nature to try to avoid suffering and pain; whether physical, emotional or physical. We don’t run towards it, yet this broken road of suffering brings us theintimacy with Christ that we all need. So how do we fight this battle?

It may look like we’re surround, but we’re surrounded by love. If we don’t look at our present suffering through the eyes of Christ, we miss the army of love God has placed in our lives: The great cloud of witnesses cheering us on as we run the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1-3). The family of God placed here on earth to strengthen and encourage us. All directed by our Chief Commanded Officer, Creator of the Universe, Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Light in the Darkness.

For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”– 2 Chronicles 20:12

Five days after being diagnosed with colon cancer doctors removed 10 inches of Teeshla’s colon. She would undergo six months chemotherapy treatment to shrink the four-centimeter mass on her liver. During this time, she worked hard to stay focused on God and his faithfulness to his people found in the scriptures. She insisted that all the elders from our church come to the hospital and pray over before her surgery, and they did(James 5:14). God continued to surround and comfort her during two of her hospital stays as many of the nurses on her care team were trained by one of the elder’s wives who often came to visit.

Friends and family have come from all over the southeast to come care for her. The wife of the former lead evangelist for the Columbia church came up from Florida sit with Teeshla in the hospital while I took care of our kids during the day. Other sisters came during the day also while I stayed overnight. God made sure Teeshla was never alone. When she came home, a close friend from Philadelphia flew down just to help with the kids.

Teeshla had her surgery to remove the tumor from her liver in Winston-Salem, NC. This was just 30 minutes from life-long friends who retirednear-by. Although, far from our spiritual family in Columbia, we were near a couple who had embraced Teeshla into their family as young campus student and single. They flew in from a mission trip to the Bahamas and drove down from Raleigh on their way home just to be with us when Teeshla woke up from her 11-hour surgery. This is what it means to be surrounded by love. So many others have stepped forward to offer prayers, meals, babysitting services, rides for our children, cards, words of encouragement, the list goes on and on. This is an amazing story and most of it has not been written yet.

The battle is the Lord’s. All the pathology reports from the liver surgery indicated that there was no evidence of disease in any other areas and that the liver tumors were successfully removed. Since February, we have enjoyed a life without chemo, a seven-night cruise (without kids), and the continuation of building precious memories with our family. Durin gher post surgery CT scan, Teeshla received the news that new tumors had formed on her liver and small spots appeared on her lungs. It was indeed a kick in the gut. We both realized the emotional and spiritual toll we endured the last 12 months. Throughout her battle with cancer, many saw Teeshla as a warrior, but on that day and the days to follow she did not feel like a warrior. Yet, we are still surrounded, and that is what we are choosing to focus on. We have struggled through the scriptures and in prayer with friends to not allow what we saw and heard make us forget what God has said after all. He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

This is how we fight our battles. When I think of the power of God, I am amazed because I see it at work right before my very eyes. Until now we have never really needed help and support like this. It has been very humbling to be served. It has really changed my perspective and helps me to understand what it is to be in need. How we choose to look at and approach suffering is the key to either striving or just surviving. How we look at things often determines the success we will have. A song that gives us inspiration is Surrounded(Fight my Battles) by Michael W. Smith. I’m not sure how big of a hit it was for him, but every word of it speaks to us right now, and that is just fine with us. We love the song and it has become our anthem and song of deliverance (Psalm 32:7).

We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. We trust in his unfailing love and his ability to heal. This battle belongs to God and God always wins – no matter the outcome.

Isaiah 61:1-3 reads “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

“This is how I fight my battles. It may look like I’m surrounded, by I’m surrounded by you.” Michael W. Smith