When Hannah left my office that fateful day, it was as sunny as when she entered it. “It should’ve been raining,” she lamented at her next appointment. “But there wasn’t even one cloud in the sky!”

Hannah felt a gentle summer breeze as she reached her car. It infuriated her. “There should’ve been a hurricane for what I’m gonna go through!” People in the parking lot walked by Hannah without acknowledging her. “No one was crying. No one was even looking at me,” Hannah sighed. “It was like nothing had happened.”

Hannah continued, “I was told I had cancer! I was scared. I was alone. Why didn’t anyone in the world know what was happening to me?”

A similar experience happened to Curt Schilling, the famous right-handed pitcher who helped the Boston Red Sox to the World Series title in 2004 and 2007. As he left his doctor’s office after learning about his diagnosis, Schiller pondered, “You know what the amazing thing was, and I was dumbfounded by it: You’ve just been told you have cancer, and you walk out into the public and the world’s still going on. It was really a challenge to wrap my head around that.”

As Hannah listened to the 1 o’clock news on the radio on the way home, there was no mention of her illness, nor the chemotherapy she was to get, nor the total loss of hair she would experience in two weeks.

“Nobody cares about me.” Hannah turned off the radio and started to pray.


Then she considered the women in the Bible who inspired her. They all had troubles. Did the world acknowledge what they were going through?

Early in Genesis, Hagar, who bore a child for the barren Sarah, wife of the patriarch Abraham (2000 B.C.), was cast into the desert. Did anyone care that Sarah became jealous? During period of the Judges (1200 B.C.), Ruth wept alone for her husband who died. Who comforted her in an alien land? Later in the Bible, during the time of the great Persian kings (700 B.C.) chronicled in the Book of Esther, God is not even mentioned as Esther’s life is threatened by a perfidious prime minister in the court of the king of Persia.

Hannah would, of course, call her friends and her church later in the day. But as Hannah continued to drive home, she lighted on the 23rd Psalm, written by King David 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus. The verse of that psalm, written at a time of great distress in David’s life, that meant the most to her that day was: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23: 4).

Hannah reached her home and tossed her keys on the mudroom counter. Her house was empty, for her children had grown up and moved away pursuing their own lives. “Is this how it’s going to be? Alone through the treatments and the rest of it?” Hannah sighed. Then she recalled the psalm. The universe did react to her diagnosis and all her circumstances through its Creator. Not only did God know what she was going through, God was with her and would take care of her in her distress. “Thou rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23: 4).

And the women of the Bible? After re-reading the passages of the Bible concerning women she admired, Hannah discovered that God was with each of them, sustaining them in their troubles. Even though God’s name is not mentioned in the Book of Esther, His providential hand is seen on every page as Esther overcomes each difficulty.

At that next office visit, Hannah shared with me all she learned, and I related the story of Curt Schilling. Hannah retorted, “At least Schilling was told he could be cured.”

Hannah shook her head and thought for a while. Then she recited the end of the psalm: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23: 6). Hannah was relieved. She was not alone. Hannah knew that God was with her through her struggles, and she would be with God when her struggles were through. The world was not going on as before.

Dr. Delvyn C. Case Jr. is a hematologist/oncologist, writer and director, and consultant to the Department of Spiritual Care at Maine Medical Center in Portland.

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