October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, as I’m sure you all know. Pink has infiltrated my school, Gracie’s daycare, social media, TV, and even the NFL. We’re pink up to our eyeballs around here, and I love it. We all support breast cancer awareness in October.
But I don’t think I really got it until THIS October. Because in this October, it has literally hit close to home. As in, like, across the street from me. Two married ministers from our church live in the house across the street from us, and I was heartbroken to find out a few weeks ago that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She has three elementary-aged kids at home and her family’s life is lived in faith and service to God. Why her?
And then, just yesterday, I was on Facebook and saw a message from another of our ministers at our church. She had been diagnosed, merely weeks after my neighbor. She is a lead minister at our church, has a sweet family with kids in high school, and lives her life to bring others to God. Why her?
I have been in prayer for each of them and their families the past two weeks, asking God to bring them peace and health and faith and hope. I’ve also been in prayer about trials in general. How does God decide who will face what trial? Why do some people face things and others don’t? It just doesn’t seem fair.
I went through this same line of questioning after my dad died. I think most people dealing with grief have these thoughts periodically. Why him? Why ME?
And then God answered me.
- I went to a parent/teacher conference last week for a student who is failing all of her classes. She is disengaged in class, never turns her work in, and comes late to school almost every single day. The reason? Both her grandparents are in Hospice care and her single-parent mother is having to take care of everyone by herself. That’s the home life this sweet girl has to go home to every day. Who knew?
- I had a conversation last week with an acquaintance who I often come in contact with, but I’ve never really gotten to know. She is happy, upbeat, positive, and just a great person to be around. Turns out, she’s been trying to have a baby for four years. FOUR YEARS she has carried that weight around, while she functions on the outside like a normal, successful person.
- Another student came into my first period class last Monday with his head hung low. A normally loudmouthed kid, this quiet was very uncharacteristic. I stopped him outside the classroom before the bell rang and checked in with him. His dad left their family the night before. Just packed a bag and walked out. And this kid had to show up at school the next day and learn about descriptive imagery in literature.
The fact is that everyone faces trials. Every single one of us. And while I don’t know how or why certain trials are given to certain people at certain times, I do know this: My God walks beside us through them all. Even when we don’t know he is there. Even when we don’t want him there. Even when we are mad at him. Even when we don’t believe in him. Even when we are unworthy of him.
He walks beside us through them all.
But he also calls each of us to walk beside others, too. To wrap them in prayer and to encourage them on their journey. To bring dinners, to write cards, to give hugs, to send flowers, to sit beside, to laugh with, to clean up after, to take care of. Because God knows that his presence is powerful, but his presence through others is unstoppable.
In October, we become even more aware of those whose lives have been impacted by breast cancer, like my neighbor, my minister, and even my own grandmother, but let’s not stop there. Let’s become more aware of those whose lives have been impacted. Period.
Everyone carries a burden. But, perhaps, with the help of the One who first carried the cross, we can help bear their cross with them.