We ask ourselves and we ask God, “Haven’t we been through enough?” We run down the list of our trials and wonder how much more we can take. We clutch our Bibles and catch our breath and wonder what the purpose is for this pain. [Photo source: Pexels]

July 20, 2023

A Cancer Diagnosis. Contemplating Why Me to Concluding Why Not Me?

As we navigate this thing called life, we will find ourselves in circumstances that leave us begging the question, “Why me?“ Death, divorce, diagnosis, and dilemmas can deflate our faith and cause us to feel weakened.

We ask ourselves and we ask God, “Haven’t we been through enough?” We run down the list of our trials and wonder how much more we can take. We clutch our Bibles and catch our breath and wonder what the purpose is for this pain.  

A cancer diagnosis sent me into a catatonic state of asking the “why me” question. Carrying blindness for the past 40 years seemed like enough for someone to deal with in a lifetime. But the tests didn’t lie. There I sat with a life-threatening illness and a treatment plan that promised to deplete my health to a degree that I had not yet known. I had come to know my features and hair by the familiarity of touch and it was what I anchored knowing my appearance in. I would lose my hair, my eyebrows, my eyelashes, and my features would certainly change after chemo, surgery, and radiation. “Why me?” I asked again.  

Sitting through my first chemotherapy treatment, I wondered how it would make me feel in a couple of days. Those couple of days afforded me the understanding to that question. As I lay in a hospital bed due to the harshness the treatment had on my body, I wondered if this would be worth the fight. The prospect of the cancer having affected other organs was a tangible fear for me as they ordered ultrasound tests to be done. In the sleepless hours of the night as I awaited the answers to the ultrasound tests, I again asked the question, “Why me?“  

This question floated in and out of my mind over the next several weeks as I continued treatment and reaction to treatment. But upon my third treatment, I felt a shift beginning to take place in my heart. I audibly observed the other patients in the large treatment room enduring the same, if not worse, treatment regimens that I was enduring. Per a Facebook post in which I expressed the desire to do something useful with the time spent in a treatment chair, a friend suggested I begin praying for the others who were also battling cancer. I heeded this beautiful advice and began praying for my fellow battle buddies and their treatment regimens. Shifting my gaze outwardly rather than inwardly allowed me to temporarily let go of the “Why me” question.  

My cancer was shrinking, my faith was growing, and a ministry had been born from this experience. I interacted personally with several different people over the course of the rest of my treatment and beyond. Connecting with their soul despite fear of what this disease might hold for them, I offered feelings of empathy and tangible resources of prayer. Many words have been exchanged and prayer blankets distributed. The question of “why me” had not cropped up until I began learning of those beautiful souls that have been in treatment alongside me had to surrender. The brave soldiers who fought the good fight were now laid to rest and the war was over.  

It was then those familiar words begin to arise in my mind again. “Lord, why me?“ I couldn’t understand why I had been permitted to survive this illness and others around me had not. It plagued me and humbled me, puzzled me and scared me and ultimately challenged me. I was reminded of a very familiar passage found in the book of Esther...  

Esther 4:14 “... And who knows whether or not you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?“  

The question I had tossed around in my mind began to take new shape. I first asked this question from a self-pitying place of fear and anxiety. Like dice in a cup, God shook up my thinking and spilled it back out for me to re-examine. I now began to ask this question from a place of humility. God saw a strength that I didn’t believe I had and walked me through the hardest season of my life. With joy and gratitude, I lifted my hands in praise the day I finished treatment and was declared in remission. Feeling a great sense of relief mingled with a great sense of loss, I prayed for a new strength to do something for God‘s kingdom through this trial. “... And who knows whether or not you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?“ This... This would be my new way of thinking. I don’t know why but God chose me to carry this disease and to do something for His kingdom with it. He changed my focus from “whiny “to “why me.”  

We don’t always know the purpose for the pain but if we can move to the other side of it and get a different vantage point, we can move out of the fear-loaded question of “why me? “And look at it from a humble-minded question of “why not me?“ It is the driving force behind what we will do with the story God is writing. It can be the reason we take that one more step toward the end of the trial. It is how we can lift our hands in praise after a fire threatened to consume us.  

Pray for the strength to ask God, “why me?“ From a position of purpose. we can be consumed with sadness from Satan or give God the glory, the choice lies within our own hands. Getting a heartfelt answer from the Lord to the “why me?“ question makes a difficult circumstance worth the effort when we know that he has a purpose! And He does have a purpose for you in your trial! Trust Him for that, fellow believers... Trust Him!  

Cyndi Woods has a heart and a passion for disability ministry. She is also a cancer survivor and seeks to use that as a ministry, as well. For more information, you can reach her at cyndiwoods.com