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by | Mar 12, 2012

A guest post by Jennifer N.

Squealing with delight, my four-year-old son Samuel chased the waves back into the ocean and built sand castles with his siblings. I was a good mom – I faithfully applied sunscreen and kept him drinking tons of water.   How ironic that as I tried to prevent sunburn and dehydration something much more deadly was lurking under the surface.

Soon after our summer vacation Samuel began screaming in pain every time he went to the bathroom. Our doctor detected something abnormal and sent us straight to the Children’s Hospital.  The biopsy showed stage IV prostatic embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare aggressive cancer requiring an equally aggressive treatment plan – fifty-four weeks of chemo, six weeks of radiation.

Here I was pregnant with my fifth child and discovering that my son had cancer. My life had changed. Our days were filled with hospital stays, blood draws, pain killers, sleepless nights. The seasons passed in a blur. The trees shed their leaves. Samuel shed his hair.   And when treatment finished, 412 days after diagnosis, Samuel’s oncologist told us Samuel won’t be cancer-free until 5 to 10 years from now.

The song “Held” by Natalie Grant buzzed in my head.   “To think that providence would take a child from his mother while she prays, is appalling… Who told us we’d be rescued? What has changed, and why should we be saved from nightmares? We’re asking why this happens to us…”

Hope in the Lord

I am helpless but not hopeless. Psalm 27:13-14 NASB says, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”

God’s goodness is not defined by whether or not He heals Samuel. His goodness is defined by Himself. My hope is not in Samuel being healed. My hope is in the Lord. I don’t feel courageous, but I know He can give me courage.

Natalie’s song continues…”This is what it means to be held, how it feels when the sacred is torn from your life and you survive. This is what it is to be loved, and to know that the promise was when everything fell, we’d be held.”

There are no easy answers. No quick fixes. Yet I hope in the Lord. He is what I cling to. He will heal Samuel – here on earth or in Heaven. And through it all, I believe we will still be held.

“Whom have I in heaven but you?And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

Psalm 73:25-26 (ESV)

Going Vertical!

Jennifer N.

Guest writer Jennifer N. is a devoted wife and mother of five young children who writes about the challenges of parenting, dealing with loss, and her unshakeable faith in her Savior for Ungrind, Designed to Flourish Magazine, and at

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