The alarm sounded. It was time to get up and get moving. I went to my oldest daughter’s room to pull her out of bed. As I pressed her body up against mine, I felt some pain in my right breast. My initial thought was that tenderness was not rare for some women during certain times of the month. I usually don’t have that issue, but hey, it happens. So I carried on. I got the kids ready and decided to get myself ready next. Before putting on my shirt, I palpated the area where I felt the tenderness and ugh!! I felt that dreaded lump! Yeah, the one I assume my grandmother felt before her diagnosis, lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. And the one my mother felt some time before her diagnosis, double mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. Yeah, that lump!
I reminded myself that I’m not my grandmother. I’m not my mother. Just because it happened to them doesn’t mean it’s happening to me now or that it will happen to me. Right? Of course. But I am smart, so I did call my doctor and scheduled an appointment. She palpated the area, felt what I felt, and ordered my first mammogram and ultrasound at the age of 35. I went and after all was said and done, I was happy to have found out that there were no areas of concern. The pea-sized nodule was a dilated milk duct. Thank you, Jesus!
The days before the favorable test results were filled with an entire spectrum of feelings from fear and worry to assurance and hope. I entertained many “what ifs” and “whys.” I also had, intertwined in my thanksgiving to God that all is well, this thought of “why the lump to begin with?” “Why the pain?” “If I’m healthy and breast cancer free, why not skip those days of the pain, palpating lumps, and testing?” “Why not just never have the pain or the lump to begin with?” I’m just saying.
Then I read Deuteronomy chapter 12. Here Moses is reiterating the law to this generation of Israelites. He reminds them that the land they are about to enter is currently possessed by people who worship idols which involved the building of altars, child sacrifices, and temple prostitution. Deuteronomy 12:30 reads “. . . be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods . . .”
This generation has been charged with the task of going in and purging the land of the pagan gods. They were told to not intermarry, to not be seduced by the worship of idols, but to drive “[these people] out and [settle] in their land.”
I’m thinking, again, “Why the pain?” Why these precursors to the promise? If God is going to give them the land, why not skip the “drive these people out and destroy all the components of their detestable worship practices so that you aren’t seduced by it” part. Why doesn’t the one true God destroy them Himself, then the Israelites go in and possess this land flowing with milk and honey? That way they don’t even have the option of intermarrying or worshipping their idols. I’m just saying.
Perhaps these precursors have a purpose. The pain, the wait, the charge for us to be actively involved in the process of being blessed by Him are used in order that we may be just that: involved and therefore, prepared for His promise.
It’s true, God is all powerful! He can do all things. He chooses to involve us. The pain, the wait, the directions are not Him being “extra.” These components of the process to the His promises are his way of preparing us to appreciate and enjoy the promise in a way that we never would had we not been actively engaged in the way that His “precursors” allow. My “thank you Jesus” was in response to the favorable diagnosis. Had there never been pain and a lump I would not have been in that doctor’s office and I would not have uttered those words when I did and with the gratitude of heart that I did.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate for the pursuit of these processes of preparation. But I do appreciate the way the process tends to fortify us, draw us, focus us.
The next time we find ourselves asking “why do I have to go through or do this, this, then that before I can possess the land? Why not just give me uninhabited idol worshipping-free land?”—try this instead:
Rather than curse the process, trust that God has a purpose for allowing it. Perhaps it’s preparation for His promise!
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