Finding Hope When Life Sucks

Pardon my French.

I don’t use that word lightly. As a matter of fact, that word isn’t allowed in our house, so I don’t use it at all.

But there are days when no other word can truly capture the moment.

I’m not talking about bad days…when you lose your keys and are late to work, or you forget to pick up your child from school. I don’t mean bad hair days. Or even “feeling fat in my fat pants” days.

I mean kick-you-in-the-gut-and-take-your-breath-away days.

When you’ve lost your job.

When your child doesn’t come home, and instead, you get a phone call from the hospital.

When you sit across from your doctor and hear the words “the cancer has come back.”

I’ve been reeling from that last one for a few weeks now.


At the beginning of August, I went for yet another “routine follow-up scan.” I’ve done this dozens of times: we drive four hours, wait to have the scan, wait to see the doctor, then he says, “It looks great, see you next time!” and we go home.

And it happened that way again.

Until…we got a call a few hours later. The radiologist had noticed “a suspicious spot” under my arm that had increased in size since the last scan. So back I went for a biopsy.

The biopsy confirmed it was the same type of tumor that was removed from my leg in 2010. After almost three years, I could no longer say I was “cancer free.”

They immediately ordered a round of scans: more CTS, PET, MRI. The scans showed two other tumors in different locations. The cancer had not only returned, it had spread.

We’ve spent the last few weeks gathering information, praying, talking to doctors, praying, asking others to pray, and did I mention praying?!I We’ve talked to specialists and asked questions of doctors and of God. We eventually settled on a treatment plan, and I had my first chemotherapy treatment last week.

There have been a lot of questions, a lot of prayers, and a lot of emotions. But in the midst of it all, God has given us peace. It didn’t come right away, and it hasn’t always been easy to hold on to, but it’s there, because God is there…walking every step of this journey with us.

At first, the emotion of it all was overwhelming. It took a few days for me to talk about it with anyone other than my husband and God. Even then, I rarely did so without crying. It also took a few days for me to pray anything other than, “What in the world?” or “Why?” But God’s big enough to handle my emotions, my questions, and even my doubt.

I learned a long time ago that trusting God does not mean you deny or ignore your emotions. It means you don’t camp out there. Faith is not the absence of emotion, it’s the presence of Hope.

“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see (Hebrews 11:1, The Message).

So there came a moment when I had to decide if I was going to wallow in my sorrow and emotion, or if I was going to lean into the strength and hope of God.

I have talked a good talk most of my life. I can recount stories of God parting the Red Sea, raising Lazarus from the dead, saving the three Hebrew boys from the fire…and on, and on, and on. It’s one thing to read, talk, or write about those stories and believe they are true. It’s quite another to believe that the same God who intervened in the lives of His people in the Old and New Testaments will do the same for you in your situation.

For me, it came down to one basic question: Do I believe God’s Word is true? If I do, then cancer is no big thing for Him. So it was time to put my walk where my talk is and to focus on what I know to be true:

God is good. This whole scenario would be much more difficult if I thought God was “out to get me,” or was completely detached from my situation. But the truth is, God is not only aware of my situation, He is deeply involved in it. I will go into more detail another time, but God has so obviously gone before us in every step and given us wisdom and peace.

“You are good and do good” (Psalm 119:68, The Message)

God loves me. Our pastor recently spoke on the heart of God as a Father. I am blessed to have a very loving earthly father, so it’s not difficult for me to see God as a loving Heavenly Father. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt my earthly father would move heaven and earth to take care of me. Why would my Heavenly Father do anything less?

“The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion” (Isaiah 30:18).

God has a plan. No, cancer was not on my agenda for this Fall. As a matter of fact, the news came as quite a shock to us. But I know it did not shock God. God did not give me cancer, but He can use it in my life, and hopefully the lives of those around me, for His good.

“This is God’s Word on the subject: “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for” (Jeremiah 29:11, The Message).

God is bigger than cancer. If I had to face cancer and chemotherapy in my own strength, you’d find me in the fetal position, sobbing uncontrollably over in the corner. If I had to “beat this” with my own ability, I would be hopeless. If my only hope was in my doctors and their knowledge of cancer (as vast as it is), I would be devastated. There are still more questions than answers when it comes to cancer. But to the One who spoke light into existence and who knit together every cell of my body, cancer is no big thing.

“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” (Ephesians 3:20, The Message).

So, yes, life “sucked” for a while, but my hope is in God, and my strength is renewed. I can rest in the fact that God is good; He loves me; He has a plan; and He is bigger than my circumstances.

I will be writing from time to time about the journey, because for me, writing is a form of therapy. But I promise it won’t all be “heavy,” because in addition to writing, humor and sarcasm are also forms of therapy for me. 🙂 And since Fall is my all-time favorite season, I’ll still be sharing some of my favorite recipes and family-related ideas and activities.

I’d love to have you along for the ride. Would you consider subscribing so you don’t miss anything? Simply enter your e-mail address in the box at the top of the sidebar. Or, if you’d rather, you can always follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

Hang on, it’s going to be a wild ride! 🙂


Embracing Hope through Cancer

This post is part of the series, Embracing Hope where we are exploring why we can put our hope in God, how we put our hope in God, and what we can do when it feels all hope is lost. To view the entire series, click here.

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70 thoughts on “Finding Hope When Life Sucks

  1. Keep being an inspiration, Nancy! Your words really touch deeply to lots of people who might be reading, but not commenting-like me most of the time. I just couldn’t not comment on this…I’m so glad you took the time to express yourself to not only provide “therapy” for you, but to help others through their difficult times.

  2. Before leaving a comment, I had to take a few minutes to pray. To pray for you – for health, for strength, for healing, for continued hope, for your doctors, for successful treatment. May our God supply all your needs in the days ahead! Visiting from Bible Love Notes.

  3. I just said a prayer for you and your family. May God’s strength continue to be with you. You indeed are a testimony to the power and love of God. Your strength and faith amazes me ad has touched me so much, as I am sure it did to many of the readers. May God’s peace, strength and comfort continue to be with you as you continue this journey with and in Him.

  4. Always praying for you, my friend! I’m sure it is not always easy to feel strong, but you ARE strong! Your faith is inspiring. When things like this happen, especially to wonderful people you know and love, it is so easy to question and wonder. Pastor John’s sermon about suffering–that pain only has context when we view it through faith and realize All THINGS are used to glorify God–gives hope. Reading your post while re-reading One Thousand Gifts is powerful. Love you!

  5. I don’t know where this came from- but felt to share it with you today, strong and brave lady who is in my prayers: I AM YOUR GOD, THE ONE WHO HEALS… WHO LISTENS… WHO MOVES MOUNTAINS AND SENDS MINISTERING ANGELS AND POURS OUT MY SPIRIT AT THE SOUND OF MY WORD IN THE MOUTHS OF MY OWN …
    You are not alone.

  6. I love you, friend! I admire your faith and strength, as I know these journeys are not easy ones. I wish I could hug your neck. I’m sure you have heard it, but the song by Mandia, “Overcomer” is so incredibly awesome. I feel like I can conquer whatever comes my way when I hear it. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. xo

    1. Oh, girl…love me some “Overcomer” by Mandisa. I crank it whenever it comes on the radio; I really need to just get it on i-Tunes. 🙂 Thank you for the prayers and for your sweet comment. Miss you, friend!

  7. You and your family are blessed; your sharing alone is a blessing to many – you can be certain!

    Your journey is no vacation, there are no days off. However, your attitude is “the perfect Fall day in the perfect grassy meadow”. Keep it ,share it and we shall all support you.

    Love you

  8. You are right, sometimes life sucks. What an inspiration you are, sharing your testimony. What stands out to me is how you tell us you have peace, even amidst this turmoil.

  9. Wow. That was powerful. Thank you so much for sharing, Nancy – and thank you for joining Missouri Women Bloggers. I hope we’ll be a supportive addition to the army of believers surrounding you and praying for you. You are so right…God is SO good!

    1. Thank you so much, Mistie! I’m so excited to be a part of MOWB. Thanks for stopping by and for the shout-out on FB and Twitter! Looking forward to getting to know you better!

  10. Nancy,

    I’m a new visitor to your site. So glad your post called to me from Word Filled Wed. God’s love is pouring down on you from Heaven above right now for all the world to see. Through your struggle (and I know you have already walked this road…He asks a lot of us sometimes, but not more than He has already done), you will be testifying as to God’s power to transcend all things…and as our pastor says, in the dictionary, all means ALL, even a tumor. Have faith and trust in our Almighty Savior. He has already moved this mountain, you just have to see it past you. Blessing in Christ.

  11. I’m so sorry for this news,Nancy. But I’m grateful that you are feeling God with you through it and drawing strength from him. I will be praying for you and follow along through your journey, friend. Love to you.

  12. Hi Nancy! I am your neighbor at Thought Provoking Thursday.

    Wow. This post really affected me. I am so sorry for your recurrence, and I’m sure it is like a ‘punch in the gut’. It’s real life, and sometimes real life stinks…big time.

    Of course, I would like to accompany you on your way. Please come over and visit me too, I’d love to make a connection with you. You will be in my prayers always. I am so happy that I found you today 🙂
    Blessings on your way,

  13. Sister from “The Story Circle” – love how He knew before anything you would need to be surrounded with more prayer warriors. Nothing is by chance! Will be lifting you and yours up through this battle. So thankful you are following ABBA – no other way to make it through as a winner. Loved the words He gave you to share, not only as your therapy, but a reminder to all who read them – of our hope. God so blesses – deby

    1. Thank you, Deby! So true…”love how He knew before anything you would need to be surrounded with more prayer warriors.” And I’m so thankful He led me to The Story Circle girls! Thank you for your kind words and your many, many prayers!

  14. I am so sorry!!! One thing for sure nothing takes the LORD by surprise and nothing is too difficult for HIM to do.

  15. I came to find you from the comment you left a while ago. I am sorry to read of the return of your cancer but am confident of how The Lord will use it for good. In reading your heart, it all sounds/feels so familiar and I have a feeling we could be good friends. The chemo road is definitely tough but as you mentioned there is One that goes ahead of you and beside you. I would love to support you in any way I can. Are you doing 31 Days? I would love to follow. God Bless.

    1. Kara, I remember that comment, and I’m so glad you found me because I wasn’t sure my comment went through. Yes, I am doing 31 days, although I haven’t been faithful to post every day. I loved how you wrote through your cancer experience. That’s partly what convinced me to do this with mine. I, too, have a feeling we could be good friends.

  16. Nancy,
    Your blog is blessing my heart today as I read your encouraging words before starting radiation next week. All we have to hold on to is God… and that’s more than enough!

    1. OH, Linsay…you have been on my heart this week, dear friend! I have been reading about your journey and so many of the emotions you are sharing are all too real and bring back so many memories from a few months ago! You are in my prayers daily, and please let me know if I can do anything else for you! ~Nancy

  17. “Faith is not the absence of emotion, it’s the presence of Hope.” Awesome quote Nancy! We have gone through a cancer journey as well and our hope came when I realized this truth: We are as healed as we are saved. Completely. It totally changed my attitude and now we are in the habit of speaking wellness and health to our bodies since Jesus said, as a man thinks in his heart so is he!

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