I have been taught in my Christian circles to put my feelings in their proper place through the truth of God’s Word, the Bible, and I absolutely believe that to be valid and wise. My emotions are often a runaway train heading toward certain destruction, so pulling back on the brakes of those and letting the calm cool reason of truth smooth the track makes perfect sense to me and has served me well.
When I was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, this came in very handy. My mantra became life, not death; hope, not despair; truth, not lies. And those three handles kept me tethered solidly to God and not to my wildly roaming feelings.
However, sometimes God has used the remarkable to cement my faith as I cling with all my might to his grace and goodness. And in those times, he has let me know that my emotions matter to him.
A year ago, I found out that I had stage 3 ovarian cancer. The surgeon removed my ovaries, uterus, appendix, part of my colon, and part of my diaphragm in an effort to eradicate cancer from my body.
When I came out of surgery, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I was so weak that I didn’t even feel particularly alarmed at the news of my massive surgery. I threw myself on God’s mercy and just wanted to rest and sleep. The really good news was that I had almost no physical pain. The only drug I had to be on was Tylenol.
I seemed to be recovering just fine when I began to throw up. My surgeon determined that I had a blocked bowel from the massive amount of swelling from my surgery. That meant that I had tons of waste floating around in my body, so I had a tube put down my nose to pump it out.
After more than a week of giving me no food or drink, the doctors thought it had worked and so they took the tube out, and I ate and drank. Unfortunately, it hadn’t worked and the whole thing started over again, and they had to put the tube in a second time. That was when I hit despair. We were just trying something again that hadn’t worked.
I told my husband to leave me alone and I went to sleep. I didn’t sleep long, but I immediately had the most vivid dream of my life. I was by a river and desperately wanted to get into it. I could hear children playing and it looked so inviting. But in my dream I was as weak as I was in real life, so I tried crawling toward it but collapsed still far from the shore. I felt exhausted and discouraged, but suddenly something, or more accurately someone, swooped in, picked me up, and plunged me into the river.
It was extremely exhilarating, like a magic carpet ride in and out of the river. It felt almost like an electric jolt through my body. I had never experienced a feeling like that in real life or the dream world. I was deposited on shore naked and covered in grime, and I had earthworms in my hands. In spite of that, I knew that something wonderful had happened. I knew that God had somehow intervened, but I had absolutely no idea what it meant. Yet, I wanted to tell everyone about it, so in my dream, I began looking for someone to tell. I saw two people in the distance, but I couldn’t catch them. Then I woke up.
The experience was so remarkable and real, that I was surprised it hadn’t really happened. I was definitely confused about the meaning, but I was extremely happy—a complete reversal from my mood a few minutes before when I was in despair.
It didn’t make any sense, but I felt God’s touch and it was enough. In my dream, the river hadn’t made me clean, so I didn’t know if it had anything to do with my health at all. I just knew that God loved me and had intervened remarkably to let me know so. Of course, I knew he loved me intellectually before that experience, but he allowed me the sweet gift of feeling that love and that was an incredible gift to me.
By the next day, I had definitely turned a corner. All my nurses kept commenting on it. So, I finally understood that my bowel was no longer blocked, and that God had unblocked it during that dream. The surgeon gave the order to take the tube out and for me to try to eat and drink again. When they handed me a glass, I was terrified. I didn’t want to drink it for fear that the nurse would have to put that tube in a third time. But my husband confidently said, “You know your bowel is no longer blocked.” His confidence gave me courage to drink and then eat.
I have had to face many difficult things in my life, and God has never intervened in such a remarkable and specific way before. But I am humbled that in my complete helplessness, he saw fit to miraculously help me. It gives me courage and hope as I face an uncertain future as I continue to battle cancer, because I know I am seen and heard.
Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay
Thank you for sharing this remarkable experience, JoHannah! It is so encouraging. You are still in my prayers, and you are deeply loved.
Thank you so much! Those prayers mean more than I can say – and to be loved not only by God but by his people is sweet beyond compare!
wow – this is incredible. Thank you. I’m sure that it was when so many of us heard of your despair that we doubled down and called on God for you.
I love that thought, Kate – the power of the saints praying!
Wow! What an amazing dream! I love how you felt happy before you knew that God had unblocked you. Thank you for the encouragement this gives me to know that he sees and hears.
Thank you, Taryn – that was the coolest part to me. I felt loved even before I knew anything physical had happened. I still can’t explain how powerful that was to me.
And why not have more of those encounters! We are spiritual beings as is God and His desire is connect with Him through natural and spiritual experiences. Sadly because of non biblical teaching in the church we’ve gone to extremes and most people in the church haven’t even received the Holy Spirit and only go on the assumption they have! Tragic! But how exhilarating for you JoHannah! Hang on to it!
Thank you, Cheryl!
Praying for another remarkable and specific miracle, JoHannah, so you know that confidence in Him yet again.
Dear,dear JoHannah, we knew of some form of cancer with you,but had NO idea the extent! This journey you are on sounds -well more than stressful!! Our heart and prayers go out for you. This,though such a terrible thing to have to go through, looks to be an example of God’s hand being on you.what a way to add to your testimony. Hope you can feel our love and a huge air hug to you.
Thank you, Marilyn & Pete – this has been such a sweet journey with God. I really wouldn’t trade it. And I am full of hope for my future.
Wow, what an amazing dream/ touch of God. We are praying for you and love you!!
Thank you, Julie!
JoHannah, this is an amazing testimony. What a powerful story of God’s healing touch and your complete transformational faith to know he healed you in your dream. Thank you for your faithful work through all you experienced.
Thank you for your sweet words, Vina. I appreciate you!
Thank you for sharing this. I needed some encouragement today.
Thank you, Ryan!
Praise God for his mercies and thank you for having the courage to share your dream. I think the Lord gives such dreams to the degree that our faith is willing to receive them. May the Lord continue to fill your heart with joy and peace in believing.
Thank you, Tracy!
Praying for you, JoHannah. What an amazing thing that God did for you! I’m sorry that I didn’t know about your cancer before now. It is encouraging, however, to read about the way that the Lord has ministered to you. Thank you for sharing your story, and I will keep praying.
Thank you, Kim!
I am so thankful and praising God for how he touched you and assured you of the love you intellectually knew you had. What a vivid dream, what a difficult journey, but what a wonderful Savior to not require you to take the journey alone. You know how much I appreciate our friendship. I’m sorry you have to face the cancer, but thankful that God is right there beside you. I will not stop praying for you. Love you, friend. <3
JoHannah – Many prayers. This was such an encouraging post. God sees our pain. He is not threatened by the intensity of our emotions, as we sometimes are, but enters into our emotional framework to display His love and grace. Praise God for your vivid dream that sustained your spirits.
Thank you, Wendy. I miss you!
An amazing story! So thankful that God brought you through that and is working in your life now!
Thank you for all your support and encouragement, Sharla!
Thank you for sharing this, JoHannah. Praying for great grace and peace from God for you and for Brad and your family.
Thank you, Jane. God is providing that through your prayers!
This is just beautiful, JoHannah. You are part of the rich tradition for whom God intervened using a dream in scripture. It gives me hope hearing your story, seeing the goodness of God, and knowing that God is still at work in our lives even through sacred channels of old. May you continue to experience God’s love and delight for you in remarkable ways.
Thank you, Noelle. I’m still in awe about that experience and it continues to give me courage.
God with us. JoHannah, thank-you for sharing your difficult and beautiful story. We need it now more than ever.
Thank you, Nichole. It is powerful to me.
Thank you for sharing this, JoHannah. It was good to read it again! Blessings in Advent.
So kind of you to read it again. Blessings to you, too, Kyle!
Such a vivid, palpable telling of your story, JoHannah! In my line of work, healing seems to come in slow, measured steps for most people. But I have seen a few instances where God advances someone’s insight and growth by leaps and bounds through their experience of a dream. So happy to hear you received this gift of physical, spiritual and emotional healing all at once: the ultimate trifecta of grace.
Thank you, Carrie! It has been a touchpoint of encouragement for me in this very difficult year.