Breast Cancer and the Old Testament Prophets


This summer I read through the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah. I didn’t have a particular reason for reading them. I guess I just wanted to hang out with some of the major prophets.

But God knew the reason I was reading some of his OT big guys . I’m sure he handpicked them for me.  Because, he knew in June, how much I would need Isaiah and Jeremiah’s words in January (and now February).

I page through those books now and land on passage after passage of scripture that I underlined while sitting on my back deck last summer.  They have become God’s words speaking right to the places inside of me that need it.

Almost everyone I know who memorizes scripture has memorized Jeremiah 29:11.

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.

It is a lovely encouraging verse.

But do you know what that verse is a part of?

It’s a letter to the exiles. God is not saying those words to happy, comfortable people in their comfortable houses with their comfortable families. He’s saying them to people going through some tough stuff.

He’s talking to people who, in his own words, have been “objects of horror and scorn… banished from the sounds of joy and gladness.”

I would take comfort in that verse if I didn’t have the context. But with the context it is even more meaningful. My cancer is not a punishment like the Isrealites’ exile was, but it is still tough stuff. God knows I’m having a kind of crappy winter, and he knows he plans to give me a hope and a future. I have no idea what that future looks like. But he does, and I trust him.

There are moments I’m a little scared of what lies ahead of me and there are moments I am a lot scared. But there are also many moments that I have more peace than a 40-year-old wife and mama who was diagnosed with breast cancer should have.

I am not doubtful that the God who had me reading Old Testament prophets while I sat and watched my boys swim this summer knows exactly what he is doing.  He knew then that he planned to use those underlined words to bring me comfort and courage this winter. He also knows now what my future hope looks like and that is enough.


By KimHarms

Kim Harms is an author, speaker, and part-time library assistant with two decades of freelance writing experience. She has a degree in English from Iowa State University. She and her husband Corey have three super-awesome sons and one crazy dog. A two-time breast cancer survivor, her first book, Life Reconstructed: Navigating the World of Mastectomies and Breast Reconstruction (Familius), is a guide for women walking the breast cancer road. She is currently working on her second book, a devotional for women going through breast cancer.

1 comment

  1. Kim, your thoughts are true of an amazing God who loves us and prepares the way for us. Our faith through difficult times shows others He is trustworthy. And the peace that passes understanding is ours when we remember.

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