Faith or Fear

Woody Family in 1990

Woody Family in 1990


In June of 1990 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and on July 2, 1990 I had surgery to remove that cancer.  I was 38 years old and we had 4 children aged 13, 11, 10, and 8.  My first thought was that my children needed a mother. As wonderful a father as my husband Phil was – I felt my children needed me. Who would fix the girl’s hair?  Who would be there for the important life events that lay ahead? Could Phil shop for wedding dresses someday?

People all over Jackson County began praying for me as well as people literally around the world. My parents were teaching at a mission school in Taiwan at that time and their whole school began praying for me. I don’t really have words to describe the very real effect of those prayers, but I can describe the results of those prayers in two practical ways.

1)    I felt very loved. People took care of our children, cleaned our house, and brought meals for a total of 40 days.

2)    I felt peace. God impressed on me a Bible verse that says – Psalm 31:14-24

14 But I trust in you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands.

The peace came because I believe when that verse says “my times are in your hands” it means that I will not die one day before Gods’ will is fulfilled in my life. I realized at that point I had a choice. I could choose faith or fear. 

I could live in fear of the cancer coming back –

or I could live believing in God’s faithfulness.

I have chosen faith.

Yes, fear does try to creep in. Whenever ……

  • I feel a different pain,
  • I hear about someone I know having a reoccurrence of cancer,
  • I am waiting for the results of my yearly check up.

At the moment that fear tries to creep in – I again choose FAITH.

A former chemistry teacher at Smoky Mountain High School named Valerie Yurkovich had breast cancer the year before I did and came to visit me and bring a meal after I had surgery. She told me that when her husband found out I had been diagnosed with cancer he said, “That surprises me because she is such a good Christian.” I was blessed that he thought that about me, but the Bible never says that just because we are Christians, bad things won’t happento us. In fact it says in James 1:2 – 3

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”

I never asked ‘why me?” when I found out I had cancer – instead I realized “why not me?”

Valerie Yurkovich did face a reoccurrence of cancer and died after battling bravely. So did other friends of mine – Martha Queen, Elizabeth Dux, and just last year, Pam Lee.

Why am I still here?

On 9-11 this year I heard one of the Captains of a Fire Fighting Unit speak about the horror he experienced being in a stairwell of the World Trade Center when the building collapsed. He and his men were on the 40th floor with several people they were rescuing. They heard a loud explosion, things collapsed around them, and after a time as the dust and debris settled, he realized there was blue sky above him. The building had collapsed all around him and miraculously he and those with him survived.

This Captain said that people hear of his experience and often say “You must feel that God has something very special for you since you survived.”  – he replies –   “No – because then that means that those who died that day did not have special futures ahead.”

I don’t believe that I have survived 22 years after cancer just because God has something special for me to accomplish in life. I believe He has something special for ALL of us.

Jeremiah 29:11 says  –

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

The life lessons I have gleaned from having cancer are:

  • Growing older is a blessing! – I am BLESSED to be 60 with graying hair and wrinkles! I am able to enjoy being with our adult children and their spouses. The blessings of seeing them enjoy their careers and families and 11 grandchildren are gifts I no longer take for granted.
  • God teaches us through suffering – Sheila Walsh says about suffering
    • You would never sign up for it…. but you’d never change it.

The challenge for all of us is to live each day as if to accomplish the SPECIAL PURPOSE God has for us by choosing faith over fear. Fear of anything robs us of the peace faith in God brings.

In the next post we will look at some of the common fears that afflict young mothers. May God bless you with faith!

15 thoughts on “Faith or Fear

  1. Beverly says:

    Gayle this post was SUCH a blessing. And, you have been a blessing to so many. Thank you for teaching my youngest “blessing” and taking such care with her. Beverly


  2. Cathy Makinson says:

    So well expressed Gayle! We rejoice in your continued walk of healing and testimony. Fear paralyzes and you are free, love you, Cathy


  3. Tim Bryant says:

    You ARE something special that God has accomplished! And that has been a blessing to us all. I remember those days of praying and hoping for you! Hard to believe how much time has passed!


  4. Ron Yohe says:

    How come you are my cousin and I never knew about this? What a great post which I hope many will read and heed because they will be blessed and helped if they do. It is far more helpful and Scriptual than those who believe “God puts things on us to teach us something.” Anyway you have been a blessing to me all through you life, even from high school on – and by the way – I just ran across the message that Phil preached at our church in St. Charles many years ago.

    You and your family are a blessing even though we seldom see you. Maybe we will have to meet in Portland again 🙂



  5. Hi! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be okay. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.


  6. Alton Bohol says:

    Is it fine to put part of this in my personal blog if perhaps I submit a reference point to this web-site?


  7. Hannah says:

    And you have given your daughters an amazing example of how to live NOT in fear!


  8. Reblogged this on JUSTICE FOR RAYMOND and commented:
    Being a Mom brings special pleasures and special qualifications…Mom must always wear a smile when she would rather cry, kiss away troubles of her children and be strong when they need a shoulder.

    Sometime there is a time when the trials of life seem unbearable – but Mom must persevere for the family, and the reward is greater than any on earth. Just to see those smiling faces, dirty faced kisses – oh it is so great to be a Mom..

    God send you blessings for sharing your story in your blog. I enjoyed it tremendously…..


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