Don’t Forget to Thank Him

Do you ever pray for something, and then when everything works out, move back into life without pausing to remember the prayer request or how God specifically answered it? I have a phrase that runs through my mind often, “Don’t forget to thank Him.”

This blog started as a way to give praise to God for the great things He has done. I’m reminded today of one of God’s provisions, a “stone of remembrance” (Joshua 4) that I had not yet collected here, where I want to praise and thank Him.

In the Fall of 2019, I noticed a knot in front of my ear. My regular internist gave it one diagnosis, but referred me to an ENT. The ENT suspected something more serious and ordered an MRI. The MRI, while inconclusive, suggested it could be a rare synovial cyst of the jaw (a better diagnosis), so the ENT’s office spent the day calling local oral surgeons, none of whom would treat it. He finally found a surgeon at a teaching hospital in Chicago who was head of their oral and maxillofacial surgery program.

Leaving the ENT’s office the day of that appointment, a song was on the radio: “Faith” by Jordan Feliz. It was a call to greater faith for me in that moment, not to a particular outcome, but to trust God.

While I had to wait two months to see the surgeon, one of the blessings during this time was that our insurance changed at the first of the year. Our old insurance denied the referral to this out of network doctor and hospital, while the new plan had them in network.

There can always be a sense of nervousness when you see a new doctor, unknown to you. I prayed for some encouragement when I first met him. In our conversation, he realized where I lived, and we made a connection that his friend had gone to the local Christian college in my town. He then mentioned Jim Elliot, one of the college’s famous graduates. As he left the treatment room, he said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose,” those famous words of Jim Elliot who would later be martyred for his faith. I also found that this surgeon was very conservative in his treatment, another thing I liked. These were kind encouragements from the Lord.

It took another month to finish “doing our homework.” Tests were still inconclusive. The surgeon felt it was best to remove this and find out what it was. But he believed it to be a benign mass and didn’t feel it was a huge rush. We agreed I could take my spring break trip in March 2020, and then schedule it.

Of course, COVID-19 hit, and all but emergency surgeries were put on hold. Finally, in June 2020, after discussing the various timing issues, it seemed the time to move forward.

Three friends, unknown to each other, sent me the same verse in advance of the surgery, Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” It was one I had actually memorized in March when I had been afraid! One texted a photo of it on Thursday before the surgery. Another called me on Saturday before the surgery and prayed it for me. A third texted me the verse near midnight the night before the surgery.

The surgery went well. Though the surgeon had said there was some risk of facial nerve damage, everything was fine. Other than a nicked ear canal because of how close it was to my ear, there were no complications. In fact, it was so close to my ear that they went in almost through my ear. The long line of stitches then was not visible, so I have no visible scar. How amazing! The pathologists took a long time to figure out what it was. They had to go to multiple specialist pathologists, and they finally determined it was a rare salivary gland tumor. Apparently, salivary gland tumors are rare to begin with, and this was a rare kind of the rare tumor! But it was benign, and I was grateful it was removed completely before it could become more of an issue.

I am reminded of the ten lepers who were cleansed in Luke 17:11-19. Only one of them returned to give thanks. Would I return to give glory to God? This is my hope in finally putting it into words today, to give thanks to God and praise Him for taking me through that uncertain time, giving me encouragements all along the way.

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