While E! Entertainment star Maria Menounos cared for her mother battling stage 4 brain cancer, she made an appointment for herself to see if her achy ears were infected.
Her ears were clear, but as Maria described other symptoms – headaches, slurred speech, difficulty reading and fatigue – her doctor became alarmed and ordered a brain MRI. The imaging test revealed a brain tumor the size of a golf ball. Though it was benign, the tumor still had to be surgically removed.
Despite the terrifying diagnosis, Maria considered the ordeal a blessing.
"I knew from the very beginning that this was a blessing and this was a gift. I even knew it with my mom because it brought our whole family together," she said. "I think that there have been a lot of beautiful things that have come even just from my mom's illness."
“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Psalm 119:71
Making Sense of the Madness
Let’s be honest. When tragedy or illness hit close to home, looking at it as a blessing usually isn’t our immediate response.
We may be angry – even furious – that our lives have been turned upside down or that our loved one will have to endure pain, surgeries, difficult treatments and, perhaps a life-changing diagnosis. We may be frightened about upcoming procedures, worried about our job and finances and unsure what to tell others about the situation.
You wonder, “Why me,” “Why her,” “Why him” or “Why us?”
Those questions may never be answered, but we can start out by finding comfort in God and turning to Him for strength.
The truth is, you’re never alone to face challenges.
How to Lean on Faith and Trust God
The Bible abounds with stories of those God asked to perform enormous feats and endure pain and suffering.
Mary was an unmarried teen when an angel asked her to bear God’s child. She mustered enough faith to say “yes.”
Jesus, while in agony in the garden, knew the excruciating experience he was to endure but found the courage to accept it.
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” – Matthew 26:39
When we come to better realize that throughout the Bible those most holy and loved by God faced terrifying circumstances but held onto their faith and trust in God, we, too, can begin to accept what’s ahead for or our loved ones or us.
In fact, spiritual commitment tends to enhance recovery from illness and surgery. For example, a study of heart transplant patients showed that those who expressed strong religious beliefs complied better with follow-up treatment. They had improved physical functioning at the 12-month follow-up visit, higher levels of self-esteem and less anxiety.
Clearly, those who lean on their faith draw strength, peace and power from it.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3
Find Comfort in Your Journey
When our friends and family come together to care of us, pray for us and help us, we see the best in others and God’s faithful community at work, acting on behalf of Him to comfort us.
We also can use our experiences later to be a beacon of hope for others in similar situations as we “pay it forward.”
We may never understand why we or those we care for must suffer, but we can learn to cope, knowing that God is by our side and, with time, uncover the blessings that bloom during the worst of times – faith that grows, families that become closer, friends that rally by our sides.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”– 2 Corinthians: 3-4
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