The foundation for Ms. Graff’s book was a blog she created chronicling her journey with cancer. Along with the struggles and fear that come from cancer, Ms. Graff found great hope and peace in her Savior, Jesus Christ. While writing the blog, she found it to be very therapeutic and realized that there were many others who were experiencing the same horrors of cancer that include mental and emotional distress as well as physical suffering. Eventually, Ms. Graff felt the Lord calling her to write this book.
Her story tells of how God turned her fear into stronger faith and her panic into peace, offering assurance of His presence in times of hopeless abandonment. Just as the Lord provided peace and comfort through her cancer, Ms. Graff’s prayer is that the reader would experience the presence of God and know His perfect love, which casts out all fear.
The God of the universe stands ready to hear all of our prayers and answer them with a peace that surpasses all understanding so that we may be able to endure.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7)
As I went through the motions of looking for other opinions, I found my focus was in the wrong place. Through another person’s testimony, I knew the Lord was asking me a crucial question. My answer would determine which direction my faith would go. Was I going to put my trust in the three doctors who offered no hope, or would I trust in Him, my only hope? Sometimes it’s easier to answer that question than to live it out. Of course I chose to trust God.
Now I am not against doctors. Neither is God. We all have gifts and talents ordained from eternity past. God knew our vocations before we were born. Look at the apostle Luke. He was a physician. If he didn’t know his limitations, I am sure he saw them once he learned of Jesus’ healing power. God uses doctors to heal with the knowledge He gives them, whether they are aware of it or not.
Up to this point I had not received a word from God that was as clear as the message I received with my kidney cancer. That was incredible. This time around, I hadn’t heard anything to the tune of “Kathy, you are going to lose your bladder, but you are going to be ok.” God was silent on that front.
Along with the uncertainty of my future, there were great times of deep fear. It didn’t matter where I was. I would be at work, with my family, at church or at home and it would come on me all of a sudden without any warning. I would find myself being overcome with a paralyzing fear that words just can’t explain and I would start crying uncontrollably. If it were possible for a human being to be sucked into a black hole and still be conscious that might describe it.
Fortunately, if that were true, there is nowhere in the universe any of us could escape the presence of God. In those darkest moments of fear, I found myself praying to God in a way I never had before. I would ask the Lord to please fill me with His Holy Spirit to get me through the moment so I could function again. In seconds I felt His peace come over my entire being. I would stop crying, dry my eyes and move on from that dark moment.
These are the moments that draw a fine line between faith and religion. God is not seeking people who are religious. They look for ways to please Him in their works. They think they have to be good enough in and of themselves to be accepted by God. Faith in God is trusting that He already accepts us no matter where we are in life in light of the atoning sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf at the cross. It’s not about what we do to earn God’s love. It is about the love God has shown for us in Christ before the foundation of the world.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
God seeks people who trust Him and that only comes through knowing who God is through Christ. The cross is the only bridge to God’s throne room. Jesus’ death reconciles us to God and allows us to enter into a personal, intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. Religion won’t cut it when you are stuck in a black hole of despair.
I still tell people that Jesus is the only reason why I didn’t check myself into a straight jacket. There is no way I would have been able to get through my cancer without my Heavenly Father’s presence.
Eventually, circumstances were arranged by God that left me no choice but to go to Yale. It’s funny how that happened. I was working from a list of four high profile hospitals. God was working from His list of one hospital I had never heard of. That was my mistake. I was working from the wrong list.
Thank you that there is nowhere I can escape your presence. Forgive me those times I worked so hard to be accepted by you. Remind me that I am already accepted at the cross of your Son, Jesus Christ. Help me to better understand that his sacrifice on the cross means I can have a personal relationship with you. Stay near me and help me in my dark moments of despair.
Forever in need of your presence,
Kathy Graff has been an active member of the First Baptist Church of Manchester, Connecticut, since 1993. Her skills as a writer began with authoring more than twenty drama scripts for her church, including narrations and dramas for Christmas and Good Friday productions. Among the many ministries at her church, Ms. Graff leads a cancer support fellowship, which meets at a local cancer center once a month.