“Is Cheryl Schatz still alive?” some have asked. It has been far too long since I updated my On the Path blog. I am still alive, and I am still on the path, although I have suffered through a time of spiritual abuse. I am doing very well physically, and there is no sign of the return of cancer. The one spot that I had on my spine is smaller, and I am considered stable. My last chemotherapy infusion was two and a half years ago and that trial is becoming a distant memory. I still have side effects from the chemo and the anti-estrogen medication, however, I am doing very well and thankful to be alive. There still have been challenges in my life, and I needed to step back for a time to heal emotionally. Two things happened in the last year that I never expected would ever happen in my lifetime.
Another cancer and another storm
My beloved husband has been diagnosed with cancer. He has Follicular Lymphoma, a slow-growing type of cancer. Right now he has no symptoms except for swollen lymph nodes. Apparently, cancer showed up on a CT scan in January 2011 as a mist in his abdomen, but his doctor did not know what the test results meant, and he didn’t pursue a diagnosis. If he had been sent to a specialist, treatment would have been “watch and wait” since he had no symptoms. Several swollen lymph nodes showed up in late 2015, and that would have ended the “watch and wait” time. Richard went through treatment with a monoclonal antibody drug that appeared to be working very well. The swelling around his lymph nodes went down dramatically as the cancer cells were destroyed. However, in a subsequent CT scan, there were mixed results. While some lymph nodes were half their size, others had grown. Richard’s cancer specialist has advised him that he will likely have to go through chemotherapy in another year or so when his cancer reaches a size that will cause an obstruction or will affect his quality of life. We are hoping for years of remission with the drugs that are available even though there is no cure for this disease. For now, we are living active lives and moving on in our ministry in the areas that God has called us. We are trusting in His strength even though we have experienced human weakness. He can strengthen and keep us until He is ready to take us home.
Great Faith in the midst of a storm
Sometimes a person can question God about why He allows so many things to happen to those who just want to serve God. I know that we will receive a full answer in eternity, but for now, I am content to know that Jesus is not worried about these trials. The struggles that God allows us to endure cause us to grow in our spiritual maturity and we are not to lose heart. Instead, we are to place our full trust in our Savior. When Jesus walked the earth, He was the one person who always had great faith. Jesus trusted the Father’s Sovereignty and He placed Himself under the Father’s protection so much so that Jesus was able to sleep during the middle of a great storm. While Jesus was resting in trust in God, the disciples were fearful, and they questioned whether Jesus cared about them.
Mark 4:38–40 (NASB)
38 Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
39 And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.
40 And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?”
The same passage in Matthew shows that “great” storm that had come upon them resulted in their boat covered with the waves (Matthew 8:24.) In Matthew’s account, the disciples were so frightened of the fierce storm that they asked Jesus to save them. Jesus responded saying they had “little” faith. In Mark, Jesus remarked that they had “no” faith. It is important to note that Jesus had just told them that they were going across to the other side. Also, note that Jesus is the one who had led the disciples into the boat for their trip to the other side. Jesus had received this instruction from the Father, and He trusted in God to save Him from premature death. Jesus had GREAT faith from the moment He stepped into the boat. It wasn’t long before He was asleep in faith and without fear. The disciples, on the other hand, experienced fear in the midst of their storm. They had little to no faith, and they operated out of fear. I can’t say that I already have the same strong faith that Jesus had, but I want to grow in knowing Him so that I do not fear at all in the middle of the storm. When the storm happens, I just need to know that Jesus is in my boat, and He is not afraid.
Spiritual abuse and the midst of a storm
The last thing that happened to me some fifteen months ago has been very painful emotionally, and I am learning what it is like to heal from spiritual abuse. In fact, I have suffered from spiritual abuse for three years now, even though it came to a breaking point a little over a year ago. While I suffered, it was painful to communicate with others especially for me to write on my blogs. It was disheartening to experience a church that condoned and even practiced abuse. While God gave me a ministry to help abused people who have been hurt by abusive cults, I had not fully known how painful that abuse could be until I went through it myself. God has brought good out of the evil that unloving and unethical people had inflicted on me. In the midst of my pain, God has strengthened me. The healing process appears to be coming to an end. Praise the Lord!
The things I learned in the midst of a storm
I have experienced that strong and enduring faith grows in the midst of the deepest valleys. Even Jesus, as a man, benefited from suffering.
Hebrews 5:8 (NASB) Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
I have also learned a strong lesson about not trusting in my own wisdom, but to trust in the character of God and His faithfulness. For me, this has resulted in my giving the sin that was done to me over to Jesus and letting Him deal with it while I let it go. I am believing Him that He will finish what He has started in me, and He will bring it to completion. I am also asking Jesus to bring repentance to those who have hard hearts. It is my desire to see spiritual healing experienced by all.