She loses her hair. She gets mouth sores and receding gums. Anemia, fatigue and rashes become familiar companions, as does irritable bowel syndrome. She loses her toenails. Not to mention the pain that’s never far away.
Dealing, or perhaps simply trying to endure and outlast the side effects of chemotherapy for her breast cancer, Margaret Feinberg gets a phone call.
One hundred days after her breast cancer was confirmed, she learns her father has also been diagnosed with cancer. Her mother now has both a husband and her only child dealing with cancer.
Does this sound like Job?
Feinberg didn’t turn to Job. As she describes in Fight Back With Joy: Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears, she turns to the prophet Habakkuk.
Like several of his fellow prophets, Habakkuk could be called “the prophet of why, God?”
The Lord tells Habakkuk that Babylon will be used to bring judgment on Judah. And yet the book doesn’t describe all the terrible things that will happen.
Here’s what Feinberg learns: “Unlike other Old Testament prophets, Habakkuk doesn’t speak God’s Word to us as much as he speaks our words to God. He voices our doubts and disappointments. He enunciates that which leaves us puzzled and perplexed. Like us, he caves in to the temptation to tell God how to do a better job.”
What are you thinking here, God?
Exactly what is the point, God?
God, I’m waiting. Are you listening?
Habakkuk complains. And the Lord answers. Habakkuk complains again. And the Lord answers again. The third time, Habakkuk doesn’t complain. Instead, he prays.
As Feinberg notes in her book, the prayer is rather remarkable. It comes down to this: no matter what happens, I will rejoice. I can starve, but I will rejoice. I don’t understand Your ways, but I will rejoice. Always.
That’s the point Feinberg comes to. No matter what, she will rejoice.
And she does. She even gets reprimanded for singing a hymn while getting an MRI.
She was supposed to stay still, but rejoicing people have difficulty with that.
Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading Fight Back with Joy. To see more posts on this chapter, “The Side of Joy No One Talks About,” please visit Jason at Connecting to Impact.
Photograph by George Hodan via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.