Clarity Ministries | Mark Neal

What I Am Learning Through Lori’s Health Journey


When I heard that my wife had cancer at the beginning of this year, I cannot tell you how shocked I was. I couldn’t believe this was happening to her, and the timing could not have been worse. The emotions of sadness, anger, doubt, anxiety, and fear all came to my mind.

After the initial shock and the reality that there is no way out of this, and there is nothing I can do but turn it over to God and be supportive to my wife, I was determined that I really wanted God to show me things through this. As God spoke to me, I wrote them down and have tried to continually dwell on them. I thought I would share them with you.

No grudges

Grudges hurt you and not the other person. It is an anchor that does not allow you to move forward in a healthy way with the person you are doing life with, or it doesn’t allow you to enter into other relationships without being jaded. It is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. I was told a long time ago to keep short accounts with the people that you love, and I cannot express that enough.


Cherish relationships

We can often take for granted time with our loved ones. We live life like time is on our side, and it is really not. We do not have control over our circumstances, and they can change in an instant. Take advantage and maximize your time with the people you love.


Every minute on this earth is a gift from God

So many thoughts ran through my head with Lori’s diagnosis. We praise God that the prognosis is bright, but the thought of not having her by my side is unbearable. The truth is, one day both of us will face that. Every breath we take on this earth is a gift from our creator. Make good use of the time. This journey reminded me how fortunate I am to have her and to make sure I do not miss any moment with her.


We truly are not in control

It is hard to admit, but I am not in control of the outcomes of my life and the lives of the people I love. I like to fix things. My mind was racing on how to beat this, but I came to the conclusion that I have no control over this, and the only thing I could do is trust God through this circumstance. There were only two things that I could control, and those were my actions and attitude. That is still true today. It renewed my faith and put me on an even greater pursuit to make God the center of my life.


Being kind always makes an impression and brings hope to a dark situation

Shout out to our doctors, nurses, and staff at MD Anderson. We met some of the kindest people we have ever met. I cannot tell you what a difference it made. We did not feel like another number, but we felt cared for and wanted. It convicted me to lead with kindness. You truly do not know what is behind other people’s actions. You can’t go wrong with kindness, and I want to be known for it. Besides, I think someone named Jesus showed us that example.


We focus way too much on temporal things

I can tell you during this season I didn’t care about my 401k, my possessions, career, social media, or anything else. I was so convicted that the phone call could wait and that all the work that was before me could be put on the back burner. I missed so many phone calls, emails, and opportunities during this season, but I didn’t really care. I only missed one appointment and made myself totally available to Lori and I sit here now so glad I did. It taught me to let things go and not to focus so much on the temporary things of this broken world.


Tough times can bring you together or rip you apart

In almost 27 years of marriage, I have never felt closer to Lori than I do right now. We cried together, ate a lot of junk food together, spent many hours in the car together, laughed, and prayed together. Do not let tough times rip you apart from the people you love. I tried to give her space when she was angry at the situation, and I have learned and am still learning to let her feel all her emotions. You can’t fix it. You can only go through it. Determine that it is going to draw you closer, not pull you apart.


Choose to make an impact in your darkest hours

I cannot tell you how freeing it is not to focus on yourself and your hardships, but instead choose to try and make someone else’s day every day you wake up. We were both determined to trust God and point everything back to Him. We didn’t want to be victims, but we wanted God to use us as examples for Him wherever we went. We were not perfect at it, but it has taught us to take our eyes off our dark times and look to encourage, lift up, and love others.


Pain is the secret weapon to clarity with God.

Pain is something I don’t like, and I try to resist it at all costs. Pain is not fun, and it brings an array of emotions, but I am starting to firmly believe that pain can bring you into some of the closest moments with God. A lot of tears have been shed, and I cannot describe the pain I have felt, wanting it to be me and not Lori. The pain and torment of watching her get poked and prodded, the pain of two surgeries and recovery, the pain of treatment every day. It caused anger, grief, and even despair, not being able to help her. But when I released it to God and leaned into Him during the pain, I cannot even describe the intimacy I have had with Him. Pain that we can’t control pushes us to look beyond ourselves and brings us to total dependence on God.


I would not wish this season on anyone, but if you find yourself in a storm and you look, you will find God right there with you.

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