By Evelyn Sherwood
God's Brave Women - Evelyn's Story
As we stood in the lobby outside the main meeting room, our conversation took a deep dive into the faithfulness of God in our brokenness. I begin to share the onslaught of trials we had faced just in the past eight months, but how God’s grace had carried us beyond our strength.
“My husband and I both stood at death’s door while in the hospital battling Covid pneumonia. Miraculously, they wheeled us out of the hospital at the same time. We were the story of hope. Then two weeks later, I received news that Covid had left blood clots in my lungs. But here I stand, six months later with an all-clear. Then my dad received a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. He passed away one month later. I don’t know how I am standing here but God.”
As I shared my story, I noticed a subtle shift in her body language; a nervous discomfort was creeping in.
“Next week, I go in for a procedure,” I said. “The doc doesn’t expect any bad news.”
There was a pause; her head dropped slightly then she touched the leather band on her wrist. “Evelyn, I know this may seem strange, and I don’t know how you are going to feel about this, but I think the Lord is telling me to give this bracelet to you. Several years ago, when I was going through a painful situation, someone gave it to me. And now…” She spoke in a hushed tone as she unsnapped the leather band and placed it on my wrist. “I am giving it to you. I don’t know what is ahead, but God does.”
My eyes shifted from hers down to the soft brown bracelet. I ran my fingers across the words that read “BE BRAVE.”
At that moment, I was comforted at the reminder that God saw me in all my heartache. But there was also an unsettling questioning, “Why do I need to be reminded to BE BRAVE.”
I attempted to push down the fear that was rising in my throat. Yes, I had some medical tests and procedures coming up. But the doc says he suspects nothing drastic. But something inside me knew that this gift of a bracelet was a signpost God was giving me for the road ahead.
"Something inside me knew that this gift of a bracelet was a signpost God was giving me for the road ahead."
The truth is, I was tired from all the struggles and ready for a happy “BE BRAVE” moment. Perhaps a door of opportunity was about to swing open, and I needed the courage to step through. Yes, that must be it. God won’t allow more suffering into my life, will He? Hadn’t I been through enough?
I have learned that God loves me too much to give me what I want in the past eight months. His love runs so deep, He sees what I need. And what I needed was to face a giant that I had allowed to bully me and cripple me for years with fear – Cancer.
"I have learned that God loves me too much to give me what I want in the past eight months. His love runs so deep, He sees what I need. And what I needed was to face a giant that I had allowed to bully me and cripple me for years with fear – Cancer."
After watching both my parents die from cancer, I remember thinking, “Ok, God. Have I done my duty? We won’t have to endure cancer again, deal? Please God, I will do anything for you; just don’t let me ever have to battle cancer.”
Have you ever tried to bargain with God? “God, if you do this, then I will ___.” Or perhaps you found yourself pleading like Jesus in the garden as He faced the crucifixion, “Please God, take this cup from me.”
But what did Jesus say? His flesh cried out to let the cross pass, but the longing of His Spirit trumped the desire of the flesh. “Not my will, but Yours be done.” He knew that God had a more excellent plan at work. A plan to redeem and restore a broken world through the brokenness of His Son.
"But what did Jesus say?... “Not my will, but Yours be done.” He knew that God had a more excellent plan at work. A plan to redeem and restore a broken world through the brokenness of His Son."
It took several tests, scans, and a procedure for me to reach my Gethsemane moment. But the call came, and I heard, “We are so sorry. You have been through so much. This diagnosis is not what we saw coming. We need to discuss treatment options.”
My entire being went numb. My shoulders shook with each sob. “God, I thought we had a deal! I don’t want this. I know you didn’t give it to me, but you allowed it. Why? Yet Lord, not my will, but yours.”
His answer, “Dear daughter, it is time to let go of the fear. Cancer does not get to define you. Your true identity rests in me. This trial is hard, I know. But just as you learned I am with you in the fire, you are about to learn I also go before you. This path you are embarking on, I have already walked it. I know what lies ahead. Take my hand. Trust my heart. I will lead you.”
"His answer, “Dear daughter, it is time to let go of the fear. Cancer does not get to define you. Your true identity rests in me. This trial is hard, I know. But just as you learned I am with you in the fire, you are about to learn I also go before you."
He was right. When I stopped to think about my fear and face it head-on, I saw it was rooted in the soil of the unknown. But when I pause and realize my Father fully knows all the unknowns, fear loses its grip on me, and I can walk BRAVELY into my future, trusting in His bigger plan.
"When I stopped to think about my fear and face it head-on, I saw it was rooted in the soil of the unknown. But when I pause and realize my Father fully knows all the unknowns, fear loses its grip on me, and I can walk BRAVELY into my future, trusting in His bigger plan."
Dear friends, no matter the giants of uncertainty or fears staring you down, do the brave thing. Surrender to the truth that God will never leave you. He will never forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:8). Remember that in your suffering, He is working a more excellent plan (Romans 5:3-5). Then stand and see the salvation of the Lord (Exodus 14:13-14).
“Father, today we stand brave, not in our own strength, but armed with the truth of who You are and who we are in You. And that is enough.”
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
You are Brave!
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Evelyn Sherwood is a trusted soul-care guide, speaker, and blogger who has served in pastoral ministry for thirty-five years. She serves an active and growing audience through her blog, evelynsherwood.com, and her bi-weekly subscription devotional Hope for the Journey, encouraging her readers to grab hold of hope in the trials by helping them recall God’s work in their past. Nothing puts a smile on her face more than sharing about the faithfulness of God with a friend over a steaming cup of cappuccino or iced peach tea.
On a summer evening, you might spot Evelyn and her husband, Steve, driving through Indiana farmlands in a canary yellow ’47 Ford pickup or enjoying an outdoor movie night in their backyard with their eight grandkids.