Before you get into this post, I suggest you put on your wading boots because I'm about to get deep. Most of my posts are primarily card and paper crafting related because that is my target audience. I occasionally reveal some personal information about my life as it relates to paper crafting, but I usually keep it light.
Not today. Although I'm sharing a card, I also feel compelled to share the journey that led to this card, and the journey that took place afterward.
I made this for my dear friend, Mariana Geissel, while she was in hospice battling brain cancer. On Saturday, her battle ended and she is now cancer free in heaven. I could write that she lost the battle and most people would agree. But they don't know Mariana and they haven't yet read this amazing story I'm about to share. She didn't lose the battle. She won.
Mariana would say:
"I win no matter what. If I beat cancer and live another twenty to thirty years, I win. If I don't beat cancer, then I will go to heaven and I still win!"I, on the other hand, struggled with understanding why God would let such a lovely person and mother of three young boys get brain cancer. I decided the best way to handle my lack of faith was to take it straight to God. After all, He already knew I was angry at Him because God knows all.
|Me and Mariana at her birthday party shortly after being diagnosed with brain cancer. |
We all wore orange, Mariana's favorite color, to show our support.
When Mariana was first diagnosed, I cried out "God, why?! WHY? How could you let this happen to her? I know you're supposed to have a perfect plan, but how could this be a part of it? I don't like it!! I'm angry with you, God!" My husband said "You can't be mad at God" to which I replied "Oh, yes I can and I am!"
During that time, I heard God say to me "Annette, you need to have more faith in me. Don't you think I'm going to take care of her?" Those words gave me some peace and comfort until two months ago, when I learned the tumor was not responding to treatment and Mariana was in hospice.
I was shaken to the core and so was my faith. I could feel it weakening again as I questioned why this had to happen. Then, this past Saturday evening, the news came. I was devastated.
I knew going to church the next morning was going to be tough. Mariana was also a member of my church. In fact, that's how we met. I knew the entire congregation was going to be in mourning. We had been rallying around Mariana and supporting her and her family in every way possible including wearing her favorite color - orange - to church, bringing meals to her family and driving her to treatments.
I was tempted to skip, but I knew that I needed to go. I needed to see my church family. More importantly, I needed to be in God's house because my faith had been rocked. During worship service, I fought back tears and muddled my way through the songs. I was also doing something else. Inside, I was crying out to God. "How could you let this happen!?!"
Then, in typical God fashion, He revealed something to me. Something that seems so obvious, yet so profound. He simply said:
I was too dimwitted to completely understand what He was saying at the time, so I noodled on it for a couple of days while still feeling anguish over Mariana's loss. I'm going to be honest, I was a hot mess ... until Tuesday."Annette, you're looking at this all wrong. You're looking at this as though I am the problem. I didn't give Mariana cancer. I am not the problem. I am the solution."
On Tuesday morning, I started Googling stories about people who had gone to heaven and come back. As I was reading these accounts from different people, I could feel God working in me again.
Every story I read had a similar theme. They all experienced this incredible joy. There was no pain and they felt nothing but love. Then it all clicked and God started revealing His plan to me.
He explained that we live on earth, where there is cancer There are other sicknesses on earth, too. There is also shame, guilt, lust, greed, anger and just plain sin. He didn't give her cancer. It just happened because she was on earth where there is cancer. He was not the problem.
He then revealed that in Heaven, there is no cancer. There is no pain. There is no sin. Because He reigned in Heaven, none of those things was allowed inside. As a result, nothing but love and pure joy was left because there were no sin and no pain. He had completely taken care of her!! He wasn't the problem, He was the solution!! She was with Him in heaven and she was experiencing nothing but pure joy!!
He then revealed to me that yes, he could have cured her from cancer on earth, but He chose not to because He had a better plan and it was Heaven!! He could completely protect her in Heaven because that is where He had full reign. Had she remained on earth, the cancer could have returned or she could have fallen ill from something else. She could still experience anger, hurt, guilt, etc. because those things exist on earth. Why cure her of one thing, when He could cure her of everything in Heaven? He could completely protect her there!!
Yes, God!! I get it now!! I totally get it!! You solved it all by giving us the opportunity to be with you under your full protection in Heaven, where you have full reign!! Mariana understood that and she is there with Him now!! She is experiencing nothing but pure joy!!
We will have trials and tribulations because we are on earth and bad things exist here. Yes, good things exist, too. (Have you been to Disneyworld?) Seriously, though, that's just how it is on earth, but in Heaven there is nothing but pure joy because that is all that exists because that is all God wants for us!!
Wow!!! Mind. Blown.