October 28, 2016

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Don’t let your faith fail because God does really care for you

Debra TomaselliCancer treatments have me grappling with headaches, intestinal issues and fatigue. One particular morning, with additional treatments looming, I didn’t know where to turn.

My mind raced with questions. The drug is effective against the cancer, but it’s debilitating me. Should I quit? Find another option? Visit a cancer center?

Additionally, I suffer headaches from the treatment. Will they go away? Should I see a neurologist? If so, who? Should I wait to visit the established expert? Or accept a quick appointment with the new specialist?

Tossing and turning, I opened my eyes when suddenly, a definitive answer arose. Clear and sharp, it came from deep within.

“You’re going to do what you did 20 years ago, when you were first diagnosed,” I thought. “Turn to Jesus. Go to Mass. Forget the rest. Just turn to Jesus.”

I threw on clothes, brushed my hair, grabbed the car keys and glanced at the clock. It was too early to leave for Mass, but my body wouldn’t stop. A strong inner force propelled me out the door.

As I drove, a familiar verse surfaced and persisted: “Simon, Simon. Satan has asked to sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail” (Lk 22:31-32).

It’s not the first time the words, delivered by Jesus to Simon Peter, spoke to me. I definitely felt sifted.

I parked the car and walked toward the church when I spotted David, a fellow parishioner whose wife is battling cancer.

We exchanged greetings, and David explained they were anxiously awaiting test results.

I shared my struggles, and the verse I received on my way to Mass.

“Listen, David,” I concluded. “Jesus is praying for us, … but look at what he prays for … not for good health or that our troubles go away. … He is praying that our … faith … will … not … fail.”

I squared my shoulders. “That’s what brought me here today.”

David, a humble man, nodded.

I turned toward the church. “I’m going to go in and pray for you, for your wife and for me,” I said. “I’m going to pray that our faith will not fail.”

I slipped into the pew moments before Mass began. I suddenly realized that I’d never checked the time during my conversation with David, but here I was, perfectly punctual for Mass.

No wonder I felt propelled to leave home early! It allowed space for that conversation. I pondered the message David would bring to his wife, indeed, the strength the conversation gave me, too.

I marveled at God’s care for each of us! What care! What beautiful, tailored care!

But God wasn’t done. (He never is.)

Moments later, several pews ahead, I spotted Larry. In recent years, after a long struggle, Larry had beaten brain cancer. When I saw his shiny head, a surge of strength arose. “Stick with me,” I heard God say. “I’ll get you through this. Stick with me.”

Today, there’s no urgency for a second opinion. I put the neurologist on hold because the headaches are diminishing. Surprisingly, I don’t even dread the upcoming treatments.

I can do this.

Whatever it is, you can, too.

Just don’t let your faith fail.

(Debra Tomaselli writes from Altamonte Springs, Florida. She can be reached at dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.)

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