“. . . for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and honor, till death do us part, according to God’s holy law, and this is my solemn vow.”
I uttered those words over a year ago on May 28 to my then-girlfriend on our wedding day. The events of that day seemed to pass by quickly and before we knew it, we were changing our Facebook status from “In a relationship” to “married”. #Legit
Over the next few days, congratulatory messages streamed in from friends and family alike. My wife and I were both relieved that the months of planning and coordinating for the big day had come to an end. Finally, we could settle down and move on to bigger and more exciting things in life, like getting ready for our new house and building a life together.
Contrary to what most people say about the challenges one would face during the first year of married life, our first year went really well, with occasional bumps along the way. Friends and family can attest to how good God had been to the both of us in many instances in our marriage. It made it easy to give thanks to the Lord for His continued provision and presence in our lives.
As we entered the second year of marriage, we began to talk about starting a family. We had put off that idea in the first year because we were still staying in a rented room and were waiting for our apartment to be ready. We started discussing possible names for our children. I wanted my first child to be a girl; my wife had no preference. The anticipation and excitement grew as we started hearing from close friends who were expecting.
One recent afternoon, my wife sent me a text message along with an attachment showing the results of a health check she had gone for a few weeks ago. Before I could finish reading the detailed report, she called me. I knew something was amiss when I heard her muffled voice. “What does it mean?” she asked. My heart sank. I asked her to remain calm and give me some time to read the details of the report. That’s when I caught sight of these words, “. . . level is elevated. This may indicate a presence of cancer of the pancreas, stomach or colon. You should see a doctor early for follow up.”
The reality of the situation didn’t sink in immediately. I did my best to assure her that we would get to the bottom of the situation and seek medical help if needed. But as I thought about how my wife’s family had a history of colon cancer, the reality hit home and fear set in. To make matters worse, the specialist we wanted to visit for a follow-up was on vacation and would only be back in two weeks.
Suddenly, from what seemed like a great start, we were confronted by the reality that all our plans, dreams, and hopes might be dashed and replaced with lifelong challenges and painful days ahead. Sleepless nights, uncontrollable tears, and feelings of helplessness beset us in what seemed to be the longest two weeks of our lives. Despite having family and friends who prayed intensively along with us, the anxiety and worry did not lessen. I wondered about the future of our lives as a married couple. What if my wife really had cancer? What would it look like? What if we couldn’t have kids?
I felt a pang of regret as I thought about how I would always push back plans for a holiday overseas, which my wife wanted before we had children. I had argued that we needed to save money for the renovation of our new home. Now, it seemed that both the holiday and having children might not even happen.
During that period, two things helped me get through the days leading up to the appointment with the specialist. The first was remembering the marriage vows I had made to my wife before the Lord. The words “in sickness and in health” couldn’t have resonated more strongly, and I knew that God would give me the strength to journey with my wife through this. The reminder gave me hope as I prepared for the worst.
The second thing that comforted me was my wife’s reminder that because God had been so good to us in our first year of marriage life, there was no reason to doubt him now even if the situation turned for the worse. Trusting in an unchanging God allowed us to keep our hope in Him through life’s ever-changing circumstances. We trusted that the Lord would still be with us in bad times just as He had in the good.
Fast forward to the specialist’s appointment. By God’s grace and mercy, all the follow-up tests came back negative! We were cleared from all possibility of cancer at this stage. The doctor assured us that there was nothing to worry about.
Needless to say, we were overjoyed and thankful that the Lord had protected us from illness this time. While we both recognize that physical illness is an eventual reality for many and that nothing in this world is permanent, we thank God for more time to do His will and for teaching us what it means to depend and trust Him fully—regardless of the outcome.