Bring Glory to His Name | By Caroline Ryff

My family grew up attending church regularly; however, it wasn’t really modeled or talked about much in my home.  If the good news of Jesus Christ was taught at my church I didn't hear it.  I was completely oblivious my entire upbringing.  You could find me in the pews scribbling questions on the bulletin to ask my parents where we were eating lunch and how long until church was finished.  

The only time I prayed to God was when I wanted him to help my parents get along better.  When the arguing got worse I stopped praying thinking there’s no point. 

As soon as I was given a choice to stop attending church, I did.

During my senior year in high school I started getting excruciating pain in my pelvis.  It gradually got worse and I started limping so my mom took me to the pediatrician.  He immediately sent for a CT scan to eliminate a worse case scenario such as a tumor.  The scan did show a mass on my pelvis and after getting more tests done, I was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. The tumor started in my pelvis bone and had spread to my lungs making it stage 4 cancer. I began the protocol of 10 months of chemotherapy and 6 weeks of radiation. 

I remember asking my friend “why me?”  This was a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. Worse than a nightmare, it was now my reality.  One day I was worrying about what clothes I was going to wear to school and the next day I was wondering if I was going to live or die. 

I had battled suicidal thoughts before, but now I was battling for my life.  Worried about my figure, I had voluntarily been making myself throw up, but now I had no control over the vomiting from intense chemo. I remember telling myself I will never force myself to throw up again. 

Shortly after my diagnosis, I was in my room by myself at home. I remember crying out to Jesus to help me.  I didn’t know the vocabulary to say “I surrender” but that is what I did.  For the first time I felt regret for the wrong things I had done against the Lord.  I had always felt guilty for the sins I had done in my life, but this time it was different. I was acknowledging I had done these things to Him. Immediately after asking Him for forgiveness I felt this huge weight lift off of me. I experienced such peace and grace after that moment.  

Throughout my battle, my family, friends, and even people I didn’t know surrounded me with tremendous support and encouragement.  While I am eternally grateful for every person, they could not comfort the deepest part of me. 

When I felt like I couldn’t go on being so sick any longer, God would give me strength.  I felt so close to Him because he was all I had to cling to.  The only lasting comfort I felt was God Himself and His Holy Word.

The main verse I held onto was Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV), “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will make your paths straight.”

God showed me during this time that He was all I truly had and that was more than enough.  He healed me from cancer and it has now been almost 17 years since my diagnosis.  After finishing treatment, I remember missing those times of suffering because of the intimacy I felt with the Lord. I was so thankful He healed my body, but I missed that closeness that came from being stripped of all the distractions that can so easily make us wander from Him.

The long-term effects of my cancer and the treatment caused infertility.  My pituitary gland wasn’t producing hormones, so I was placed on hormone replacement therapy and diagnosed with premature ovarian failure.  

Years later when I got married, my oncologist suggested I see a fertility doctor to look at my options again.  After being evaluated, the fertility doctor said I had no detectable eggs and my uterus was not a suitable environment for an embryo.  She said statistically I had a one in a million chance of ever getting pregnant.  One in a million. That stuck out to me because I immediately recalled my oncologist saying my type of cancer was one in a million. My faith was strengthened because I knew deep in my heart that God could handle this. 

The desire  to have a child grew stronger, so I asked the Lord to do the impossible. I stood on Jesus’ words when He said that faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. Soon after this I had a dream of a little child’s face smiling up at me. I didn’t know for sure if it was from the Lord until I saw that exact dream come to pass 4 years later.  

But 4 years is a long time to wait, so I had decided to surrender that desire to the Lord.  I believed my longing to be a mother had come from Him, but I handed it back to Him and decided to feel content either way.  Just a few months later, I found out I was pregnant.  

We welcomed a beautiful baby girl to our family.  I’m still in awe of the gracious gift God granted and that He restored what the enemy stole from my womb all those years ago. 

I’m thankful for the cancer because God used it to bring so much good and to bring me into relationship with Him. He knows exactly what it will take to wake us up and bring us home to our Maker.  What the enemy intends for harm, God will use for good and bring glory to His name.  

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV)

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