• I. L. Tanis

She Chose Joy

“Cancer is in me, but it doesn't define me. It’s not who I am. I’m defined by Christ.”

I remember my aunt saying that, and wondering how she could. This last week, she passed away after a seven year battle with cancer. She was an amazing woman with an incredible testimony of her Saviour Jesus Christ. I know that will continue to affect people, even though she's passed to Heaven now. In a way, this post is a bit of a tribute to her.

How? How could she smile through all that? It puzzled me for so long. My aunt had such terrible pain but she bore it with such joy.

The answer is something you won't find in this world. Unbelievers don’t have Him, they often don’t want Him.

"Jesus?" you might say. "Yeah, that's great and all, but why would He let us suffer? Why would he let a mother with three beautiful children and a loving husband get cancer?"

I have been asking this question, as I think of the family left behind who will miss her so very much.

I know God has a plan with everything. I trust Him, but I'm human, and when I'm upset I do what we all do. I question, I get mad. So lately I’ve been struggling with why God would make this earth and put people on it in the first place if He knew we were going to sin and break it.

Why the thousands of years of pain and suffering? Why?

I don't know.

Why do I trust God? Why trust an all-powerful being I’ve never seen, who lets people go through pain? He’s not just all-powerful. He loves us so much, we’ll never know how deeply

I trust Him because I know once I reach eternity, I won’t even care about my pain here on earth. It’ll all be worth it.

Suffering is because we live in a broken world. God has given us a way to live in joy, no matter what we go through. God doesn't want us to hurt, but we do hurt, and when we do, we can see his love.

Why did my aunt have cancer? I don’t know. I do know without her testimony I wouldn’t be who I am today. I’d be more selfish and complaining than I am, I wouldn't have learned to be as grateful for the life I have. I wouldn’t care as much about others.

I have health issues that often give me chronic pain, but it has never been as bad as hers was. For a long time, my reminder to myself was, “If she can have joy with that much pain, and live her life to the fullest, then I can do it.”

God has a reason for every event, every action, and every moment of our lives. He doesn’t always tell us what He’s doing.

I see this in my mind when I think about life: it’s like doing a really big painting, but as little painters on the Master artist’s canvas, we’re leaning in close, doing our tiny piece. Sometimes we help other people with theirs for a small amount of time, or sometimes we end up hindering them, but either way, all we see are the little brushstrokes of the things that have happened in our lives, and the choices we have made.

As we look, we often see what looks like a mess-up, a stroke that isn’t finished, one isn’t as long as the other. The color is different. That person never finished… or so we think.

My aunt has finished her part of the painting. She’s gone home, and God’s taken her to where she has no more suffering. She’s rejoicing in His presence.

One day, when I’m in heaven, I really hope I get to see that painting. I don’t think I’ll understand it all, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to see a bigger picture than the tiny piece I helped make, and I’ll rejoice in seeing the beauty of it all.

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