I was told last month that my life would soon come to its end.
“Why?” I wailed. “God, I have a husband who needs me! I have two boys I
love very much; they still need a mother’s touch. My little
kindergarten Sabbath School—I love teaching them about You.”
I thought about how I’d miss out on sharing all of life’s
activities with my husband and boys. I wouldn’t be there for my sons’
graduations or weddings. My heart felt as if it would break with all I
had to leave behind.
I shouted to God, “Please help me not to be afraid, but to
trust You and to stay close to You. Lord, speak to me and guide me.”
I glanced down and saw the book My Utmost for His Highest.
I felt impressed to pick it up and read the devotional for that day. I
couldn’t remember that day’s date, so I read all the ones near when I
thought it must be.
God spoke to me through those pages. I read, “Think it not
strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you. It gives God
the chance to manifest Himself in your mortal flesh.”
Wow! I thought. God, these words are Your answers
to what I’ve been praying about.
Then I read on: “Our Lord never dictated to His Father, and we
are not here to dictate to God. We are here to submit to His will, so
that He may work through us what He wants.”
“Oh,” I stammered, “God, I’ve been trying to tell You my plans
for my life. Help me to submit to Your plans.”
Further along in the passage I found, “No sin is worse than
the sin of self-pity, because it obliterates God and puts self-interest
upon the throne.”
“Oh,” I moaned. “That’s what I’ve been doing, isn’t it? God,
thank You for talking directly to me!”
I kept reading: “God does not keep a man immune from trouble;
He says I will be with him in trouble.” I was ecstatic by this
time. I knew God hadn’t forsaken me!
My family has also had to struggle with leaving the plans to
God. It was after my anointing that my son, Tim, came to me and said,
“Mom, I could feel God’s Holy Spirit talking to me during your
anointing. He asked that if your death could help bring a revival, was
I willing to let you go?”
I asked my son, “What did you tell God?”
My son looked at me with tears in his eyes and choked, “Mom, I
told Him I was willing.”
This has been the hardest time of my life. I have spent many
hours in soul searching, trying to make sure that I’m right with God.
Each day through my time of trial, God has sent me another message of
love and comfort. Just as the hurt would try to creep back, He would
send me another one.
He used one of the church members to send me a little book
called Disciplines of the Heart. In there I read, “God’s part
is to work . . . our part is to trust Him.” “When we’re itchy to do,
it’s usually because we really don’t believe, so we’re trying to
help God out.”
My heart responded, Lord, through all this, You’re trying
to teach me to trust You. Why am I such a slow learner? Lord, I
believe. Help my unbelief!
The next day I read: “God is at work in everything.
Everything! Do you believe that? You won’t truly rest and trust if you
believe He’s at work in only some areas of your life, and the rest is
up to you. You’ll come out part Christian and hassled and tired.”
I had been struggling so much with blaming myself for my cancer’s
progression. We hadn’t caught the original cancer early enough, and it
was my fault for all the sun tanning I had done years earlier. I knew
that “all things work together for good,” but the devil didn’t want me
to believe that. He would have me believe that this was the part of
life I needed to take care of. So I responded, “OK, Lord, I can’t
blame this on myself. You are in control; this must be what You want.”
There were people in the Bible who had to learn this lesson
too! Joseph was able to say to his brothers who had abused him, “Don’t
be afraid. . . . You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good”!1 God was saying to me, “Sherry, the
devil intends this for harm, but I will make good of it, even if you
should lose your life.” Throughout my whole experience of having
cancer, I have had to remember that God has the plans for my life,
because from a human standpoint, everything has gone wrong.
The doctors didn’t recognize my cancer when I first showed it
to them at an early stage. There were many delays while the cancer
continued to spread through my body. Things could have been done much
faster, yet we lost precious timet hat could have saved my life. I felt
frustrated and angry. I sobbed to God, “Why didn’t they do surgery
earlier, and why didn’t they catch it when I first went to them?”
But God gently nudged me and said, “Sherry, I have the plans
for your life in My hands. I know what is best. Just trust Me.” I
didn’t even have the power to trust on my own. I had to ask God to do
the trusting for me. And He did!
It’s easy to spend all of our time trying to make ourselves
trust God and trying to be perfect. But Jesus says, “You don’t have to
make yourself perfect; you don’t have to be holy. I love you, and if
you will seek Me, I will do the work of making you holy.” Our job is to
My urgent message to you today is to start seeking after the
Lord. It took my whole life to learn this lesson. The greatest struggle
has been letting go of what I could do and trusting it all to God. I’m
thankful that God loved me enough to allow me to have cancer, in order
to teach me how to truly trust Him. What a joy it has been to find the
peace and rest that come from “casting all your anxieties upon Him”2 and accepting the rest He offers.
Sherry James was a pastor’s wife in Alberta, Canada, at the time she gave the talk
on which this article is based. She passed away on December 13, 1992. Timothy Jemly is her son.