Earlier this week, I broke my ironclad rule of no TV (other than news) during the day in order to watch Christian artist Mandisa be interviewed by Robin Roberts on Good Morning America. Mandisa’s song “Overcomer” served as an anthem for me after I received my diagnosis of ovarian cancer in January 2016. The song’s video features clips from Roberts’ battle with bone marrow cancer. Mandisa was on the show to talk about the story behind her new album, “Out of the Dark,” and its first single called “Unfinished.”
When a close friend of Mandisa’s died of breast cancer, the singer lost her footing. She couldn’t understand why God didn’t answer her prayers and the prayers of so many others. She stopped writing songs and performing. She sank into a dark depression and isolated herself from friends. She gained almost 200 pounds. She sat in the dark, watched movies, and ate.
While I have worked hard to stay positive during the last year and a half of chemotherapy, surgery, and maintenance drug treatments, I have deep empathy for the singer’s struggle. I’ve shared with my Sunday school class my fear of praying for complete healing when my oncologist tells me I will fight this battle for the rest of my life. What if I don’t get the answer I want? What will that do to my faith? Is it as strong as I present to those around me or am I secretly a doubting Thomas just waiting to be disappointed?
It frustrated me when people said everything would be all right. God’s got this. He brought you to it, He’ll bring you through it. Really? People who pray for healing die from cancer all the time. Daily. If He doesn’t cure my cancer, should I not believe in Him?
That’s what happened to this woman whose songs provide such hope and inspiration for all of us who listen to Christian music. Her friend died. She didn’t get the answer to prayer she wanted. She questioned her faith. She questioned God. She shook her fist at the sky.
It took an intervention from friends to help Mandisa struggle free of her depression and return to making music. They covered her car, parked outside a movie theater, with stickies that said things like “We love you,” and “We miss you.” They waited four hours for her to come out to the car. Then they told her they loved her just the way she was, but they loved her too much to leave her the way she was.
Having people around us who bolster our faith and stick with us through life’s struggles is a blessing from God. He brings those people into our lives. He knows what He’s doing.
I’m thankful he understands my fear of praying for miracles because I have a greater fear of being disappointed the way Mandisa was. Scripture says pray in everything. It says don’t worry, God has this. It says God has plans to prosper, not harm me. And yet, I worry. I fume, and I fret because I can’t understand what God is thinking. Why give me two diseases back-to-back? (Shakes both fists at sky!) What’s the plan? I want to be in control. I want Him to do it my way.
It’s obvious that God has other plans. So I hang on for dear life and know that Mandisa’s new song, “Unfinished,” will serve as my new anthem. Christian music like Mandisa’s will remind me to keep my focus on God. It will remind me of His faithfulness and all the reasons I have to be hopeful. God’s not finished with me yet. He’s brought me this far. My last CT scans were clear. It will be a year in July since I finished chemo. My PLS has not progressed significantly in the last year. He has answered my prayers. And he’s still working on me. I’m not finished yet.
I loved the fact that Mandisa told her story on GMA, a popular morning TV show seen by folks across our country. We need to have these conversations so that others who are lost and sad and filled with despair know they’re not alone. I love what Roberts said about her own cancer journey. “I tell people that I was mad at God, but He can take it.”
He understands. Instead of shaking my fist, I’ll fold my hands in prayer, knowing He hears me. My prayers today are of thanksgiving for all he has done in my life and for Christian artists like Mandisa who create music that reminds us we’re all in this together. We are overcomers!
Are you afraid to pray for what you really want? How do you see God working on those things in your life? Does Christian music play a role in your walk with Jesus? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.
Mandisa’s story behind “Unfinished”
More Christian music: KLOVE Radio
Stacy T Simmons
I too am a fan of Mandisa ‘s she’s got an incredible gift which she uses to inspire others. Excited to read more of your wonderful books as they come out. Have a blessed day!
Thanks Stacy. You too!
Your personal musings about God and your faith help me to think more purposefully about my own. I love how you refer to Scriptures in that process. One thing you said about not understanding why you were given two diseases made me think of another scripture that’s fitting when I feel like I’ve been handed too much: James 1:13 (usually followed by 1John4:8, of course.) So glad to hear your results have been good; You are always in my prayers.
I liked “Overcomer” a lot; Kinda complements my favorite saying “Everything will be OK in the end; and if it’s not OK, it’s not the end.”
And wow!!! I loved it, Michael’s Mother!
Glad you liked the short story. My uncle had a mental disability (he passed away at age 82 while I was in Kansas last week visiting family.) My mom has taken care of him since she was a kid. Yep, I keep reminding myself that it will be okay in the end. No matter what. Thanks for sharing!
Linda D. McFarland
I take a chemo pill daily as adjuvant therapy for a rare type of cancer. I don’t remember being mad at God but at times feel alone in my journey because my disease isn’t the norm and no one has heard of it. Instead I feel grateful for an oncologist who is a specialist and a husband who works hard to provide insurance for the costly treatment. Each of our journeys is unique and I know God is in control. I don’t know who sings the song or the name but I heard it the other day on Sirius, “I see the clouds, He sees through to the other side’! Thanks for sharing, you are a blessing!
Linda, have you ever checked into http://www.whatnext.com? It’s a forum for people with cancer. You put information about your cancer journey and are able to follow others with that type. People vent and ask questions and share experiences. You might find others who are in similar circumstances. I try not to spend a lot of time on this because I don’t want the cancer journey to define my life. I too am grateful for an excellent, kind oncologist and gynecological surgeon as well as new treatments that are just coming on-line that help extend the NED periods in my life. Listening to KLOVE radio helps me a lot, especially to count my blessings. Take care and God bless you! Will keep praying for you.
Thanks for the recommendation Kelly!
Community Mgr./3 Time Survivor
I recently finished your Bee County series, loved them. Your new book, Upon a Spring Breeze came in the mail this past week and I cant wait to start reading. Thank you for the inspiration you are to us your readers. I will keep you in my prayers, and the hardest thing to understand is why things happen and knowing He’s in control.
Thanks Susan. I love hearing from readers. I hope you enjoy Upon a Spring Breeze. And thanks so much for your prayers. They are deeply appreciated!
Kelly you continue to inspire me and so many others. Life is truly a winding road and often a very rough road. I do know that the Lord wants us to fellowship with those around us. Your growing circle of influence is an awesome testament. As you know, He is good with you asking questions. Even debating. I do think it’s His way of helping us learn. The traveling “through” part is hard. But we know He is with us. I am amazed at where He has brought me and somewhat anxious about where He and I are going. You are going amazing places. Love you.
Thanks, Kim. It is a long road with plenty of potholes, but so much of it has been so good. I appreciate your kind comments! You never know what is next, that is for sure. Love you too!