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Consider it pure Joy - Sangeetha Samuel

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance” James 1:2,3

“Not only so, but also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy spirit, who has been given to us” Romans 5:3-5”

Glory be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and Holy Spirit. Blessed be His name forever and ever. I would like to share something very personal, Initially I was contemplating whether to share this as a testimony or not, fearing rejection, condemnation and judgement, but then this testimony is about being obedient to the small still voice of the Holy Spirit and hence boldly would like to testify the following,

In the month of August 2017, I had taken up a permanent job at a bank and was very delighted in the Lord for placing me back in Financial sector (where I had spent 14 years of my career in India). There were few benefits that came along with the job, one of it being “Medical Insurance”. I did not realise at that point of time, how much of a blessing this is going to be in the coming days.

Some of you might know that I have had Gynaecological issues for last 3 years and have been hospitalised several times for it. I used to have severe dizziness along with other symptoms and have fallen to ground few times and taken to hospital, every time when I was taken to hospital, Dr’s could never find any reason for my dizziness, but I knew that something was not right, when you feel a change in your body. I was burdened heavily in my heart and have cried out during my personal talk with God, I have queried Him many times, as to why he was not healing me like the woman who was healed by touching the hem of His garment, as we have read in Mathew and John chapters in the bible. The repeated answers that I got from Him was “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10. I was enjoying the job and thanking Lord for it, In October 2017, my symptoms became very worse with severe abdominal pain and heavy loss of blood. I went for numerous GP visits and was referred for an ultrasound of my Pelvis, On the day of my Ultrasound scan, the person who performed scan asked me various questions about my kidney & at the end of session, her senior advised me that there is a problem with my kidney, which my GP would discuss with me. When I received my ultrasound report from my GP, it confirmed a 7.8cm mass in my left kidney, my GP sent an urgent referral to the Urology team. Urologist consultation was fixed for last week of November through public health system. Meanwhile the pain became excruciating and anxious about the whole situation, I knelt down and prayed to Lord as said in Philippians 4: 6,7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. That day suddenly a thought came to me as to why not I move privately for my treatment instead of waiting for public system and when I discussed it with Sam, he urged me to go privately and not to wait for public system appointment. This thought that God gave us saved my life….

I spoke to the Insurance company; all approvals were given in a day’s time and I was able to meet Urologist DR privately (whom I was supposed to meet after a month through public queue system) within two days’ time. As per Dr’s advice CT Scan and Renal biopsy were done immediately on 16th November, meanwhile they had put me on Pain management medication, which made me sleep most of the time. Amidst this situation, I forgot about our Church Memory verse competition and was reminded of it on Thursday 16th November after I finished my Renal biopsy. I started teaching and helping Gabriel to memorise his bible verses, though there was so much of pain in my flesh, I was encouraged in my spirit to memorise the verses. Our good Lord knew my future and prompted me to memorise these verses as they were much needed in the days to come

“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. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

On November 22nd, Urologist called me with result of my renal biopsy and with a lot of hesitation confirmed to me that there was cancer in my left kidney and wanted me to come to his clinic immediately to discuss further. I was completely shocked, I went down on my knees, prayed , tears rolled down and I was not worried about the pain in my flesh that I underwent at that time or the pain to come or about all medical procedures that I was going to face, BUT I was more troubled by the thought about, what will I tell my family who doesn’t know about our Living GOD, what will there immediate remarks be when they hear this? I spent sometime at Lord’s feet and After a while, drove down to the clinic to see DR and he was surprised to see me alone, he was looking forward for me to come along with a support person. I couldn’t tell him that when we have the presence of God with us, I have all the support in the world. But assured him that I’m completely fine for him to discuss further details.

For next one hour, specifics that he discussed could only assure me one thing that how much of Grace that GOD had bestowed upon me and how much he loved me that he saved me “just in time” two of the below mentioned statements of Dr made me apprehend this. Statement 1: For most of Kidney cancer patients, he mentioned that no symptoms will appear till the last stage, he added stating I was lucky that this was identified because of the pelvic scan (due to my Gynaec issues), Dr called it as “Luck”, I call it “GRACE” Statement 2: Dr mentioned that if mass had grown to 8cm (currently it was 7.8 cm) or beyond, it would have spread to nearby organs and moved to next stage, by reducing my life span to 2-3 years. As it was unsure whether this growth had happened in days/months/years, he wanted a surgery to be done ASAP to remove my left kidney, as he was concerned that it will move to next stage and he was very worried about availability of operation theatre, Anaesthetist….as Christmas shut down period was nearing. He assured me that he will do his best. I returned home trusting in LORD alone. Christ alone helped me to communicate all details to Sam and Michael, as I did not have the courage to look at their face and see the anguish on their faces…. the next two days went in prayer and silence, as we did not want to utter any unfaithful words. We have a God who does not say “I don’t care” when we cry out to HIM, but He is the one who weeps along with us when we cry…

Dr called with the surgery date as November 27th, it was only possible by our Loving Lord to bring everything together and fixed the surgery in 4 days… not only that, we have got such a Kind Heavenly Father that visa was given to my Mother-in Law in time, that she arrived before the surgery who was of great support for Sam and children during my surgery and recovery period. HE also got me support in the eyes of my management at my workplace that in spite of my short span of joining work, they accommodated my leave. More than anything I was so worried as to how I would give this news to my family in India, though they were initially devastated to hear the news later It gave me an opportunity to even share the gospel to my sister.

This lifesaving major surgery was completed within stipulated time (within 6 hours) with no complications. When I went into the surgery and during recovery, I remember reciting bible verses that I had learnt, out of which I do not know how many times I would have repeated the following two verses:

Isaiah 53:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions,

he was bruised for our iniquities;

the chastisement for our peace was upon him,

and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 43:2

When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

and when you pass through the rivers,

they will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

you will not be burned;

the flames will not set you ablaze.

When I was retelling all bible verses I knew, I felt presence of God with me that peace surrounded me and no fear touched me. It is so true as said in John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. I’m so thankful to OCBC Church and organising committee for organising “Memory Verse Competition”, I never have had attended any Sunday class to have memorised any bible verse(s). But verses that I had memorised for this competition was so helpful during my stay in hospital and during my recovery times where I was not able to pick up the Bible and read. I recovered in three weeks and Jesus Christ enabled me to regain strength, celebrate Christmas and New Year with the family and went back to work in the fourth week... At work other than my team leader and General Manager, no one was aware about the reason as to why I was away from work. When I went back to work, almost all of my colleagues said that my skin was glowing and whether I had a rejuvenating holiday, and my team leader who knew the reason for my absence , remarked that “Sangeetha, You are with your classic smile and do not look like you were sick” and winked at me, I quickly remembered of the verse “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us” and the story in Daniel’s chapter where, how God’s people come out of fire, without even smell of any smoke.

After three months of recovery, underwent second surgery (Hysterectomy) on Feb 22nd. I was told by Sam & aunty, that I kept saying the verse Psalm 43:18,19: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” When I was coming out anaesthesia effect, The Dr who performed my second surgery was so caring and took delicate care of me considering my previous surgery details. Dr and Anaesthetist was astounded about my speedy recovery. It was the almighty God who gave medical Insurance in time, without which I would not have been able to complete both surgeries. HE is the ONE who Protected Aunty, Sam and children, helping them to do their regular activities without any disruption…whether Sam organising to put meals in front of those elderly residents everyday whether it rain or shine or Aunty withstanding all this trouble at this age, she preparing food and taking care of children for the last four months or in helping Michael prepare for his NCEA exams and completing those successfully or whether Gabriel attending school and all his everyday care and needs being met…... Heavenly father is the one who was with them all…… I also thank and praise God for all support that we got from our church members ,I pray to the Almighty God that all kind hearted brothers and sisters in our Church, be blessed with double portion as they have all supported us in some way….by providing food to our family, food to our spirit, everyday visits, providing care & nourishment for Michael & Gabriel, those who stood as a great moral support to Sam & Aunty, all those who helped me with transportation during my hospital visit in the last six months whenever Sam was away at work and lastly but not least, all the prayer support that we received during my second surgery.

I happened to see this prayer online, which was so apt word by word for me, Germany Kent - “Father God, we thank you for your grace and your mercy, for allowing us to be together under your covenant and God we thank you for the revelations and for the breakthroughs; for your direction and for your healing. We thank you God for the opportunity to just be a vessel for your kingdom. God, we trust you, we love you, we honour you, and all glory is yours. Amen”

Psalm 35:28 My tongue will declare your righteousness and praise you all day long.

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