I spent last night with a friend who had just received a heavy dose of radiation for a cancerous tumor on the remaining portion of her one good kidney. The waves of pain came over her like a pregnant woman deep in labor; only there was no happy delivery of a baby to come with this pain. I want to share her courageous and inspiring lifetime journey of faith with you. Kathy has never once blamed God for any of her health issues. She has known and believed from a young age that God is good no matter what and that it is the enemy who comes to destroy life. In the words of Jesus from John 10:10: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Kathy grew up in a town that had a power plant and along with it the highest incidence of cancer in children under age 12 in the US. Everyone in Zion knew someone who had cancer so she was not afraid when diagnosed with leukemia at age 8. At age 9 she received a bone marrow transplant. Even at that young age, Kathy knew God had a purpose for her life. Her favorite song as a child was Jesus Loves Me and she never doubted that love. God has an amazing way of easing painful memories with time. Life resumed and appeared to be fine until age 16 when vibrant, healthy, athletic Kathy got into a car accident. Because of the impact of the steering wheel, she was given a chest X-ray. Incredibly, it indicated lung cancer. She endured chemo and surgery once again and proved that if you focus on God and pray, you can get through anything. Ten years later Kathy completed an Ironman triathlon and had finally acquired enough points to achieve her dream of becoming a professional triathlete. But plans and priorities can change. Within two weeks, a large tumor was discovered on her brain. She was given less than a 3 percent chance to live for another six months. After a difficult year, Kathy ended up with Hospice care to ease her final hours of life on earth. She had withered down to a scrawny 80 pounds. She believed that whether she was restored to health or taken to live with the Lord, either way it would be a win-win situation. Miraculously, after five days in a medically-induced coma, she woke up, sat up, and announced to her mother that she would be fine! It was a long road to recovery with therapy, learning how to walk, talk, write with her other hand, and even count money. A doctor she had met a year earlier through amazing divine circumstances was instrumental in her medication and recovery plan, proving that science and spirituality can coexist. To this day, she cannot remember his name. She knows that is so God gets the glory and not the doctor. Kathy spent a couple of years in good health until last October when this current tumor was discovered on her kidney. Through every instance, Kathy's faith has only increased. In fact, a psychologist was once called in to evaluate Kathy because doctors thought she was in denial about her circumstances. What doctors call an "opportunity," Kathy sees as God's plan. If she is ever not convinced that the Lord is behind something suggested by her doctors, she won't do it. She knows God is bigger than anything, even the pain, and that is a comfort. When I asked Kathy what she would say to someone who would question why she has experienced so much suffering if our God is indeed a loving God, she chuckled and said this is not suffering compared to what Jesus went through. She said it's through life that God is so real and that's where love comes from. If you don't experience anything then you don't experience God. Then I asked what she would tell someone who wondered if she was upset that God has not healed her. Her response? "But He has so many times!" Doctors are baffled and amazed that Kathy is still alive, yet she takes it all in stride as part of a life of faith. Her favorite Bible verse is Joshua 1:9: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." Kathy has always believed that she is here on earth for God and God alone. He is continually glorified through her life and response to her circumstances. Ahwatukee Foothills resident Lisa Jisa is a member of the Foothills Baptist Church, where she is active in the choir and mission work.
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