Friday, February 21, 2014

February Love Letters- Love is Relentless by Michelle Warner

One particular time, four years ago, stands out to me when I internalized the truth of God’s relentless love for me. After being married for little over a year, I found out I had to have surgery to remove a large ovarian cyst. The doctor did not seem to be overly concerned about it since I was young and healthy but she said since it wasn’t shrinking, I should just get it removed. After the surgery, I had a long recovery due to some complications but the good news was that they sent the cyst to pathology, and the initial report was that everything looked fine.

After that long week of waiting and recovering, I drove downtown to meet my husband for the follow-up appointment. I was praying as I drove, asking God to prepare us for the appointment and calm my heart. I can vividly remember driving down the highway with the Chicago skyline in my view and listening to the radio. At that moment, the song “How He Loves Us” by David Crowder came on the radio.  

How He loves us, oh how He loves us, How he loves us, how He loves us,” over and over.

 How powerful to hear those words repeatedly!

 I obviously had a lot on my mind and as I was singing along, I got really choked up.

If I was honest, I was scared about going to my appointment and what I would hear. But God met me in a very tangible way through giving me that song and comforted me by reminding me that He loved me so intimately, He was walking every step of this journey with me, and He knew exactly what I needed. I was beginning to trust that whatever I found out, God loved me deeply, and that would be enough. Although I knew that truth in my head, this time it was making its way to my heart.

Unfortunately, I found out that the cyst was actually a rare, cancerous tumor.

 I can’t tell you how many times I have thought back to that drive down to the doctor’s office belting out “oh how He loves us” over and over. It was absolutely God’s way of preparing my heart as well as bringing me on a journey with Him to know His love in a much deeper way.

I will never forget realizing in my heart of hearts—maybe for the first time—that God deeply loved me even when my life was falling apart.

It can seem easier to sense God’s love when life is going just like I envision, but I learned that even though it wasn’t, it didn’t mean He didn’t love me or He was withholding His love from me. His expression of love wasn’t just when all was right with the world, but He loved me just as much even when my circumstances felt like He didn’t.

Soon after, we found out the tumor was cancerous.  I had another surgery to remove my ovary and then I had to begin chemo.

You can imagine I was scared. I was fearful of the unknown, fearful of the future, fearful I wouldn’t be attractive without hair, fearful I wouldn’t be able to have a baby after all this, and on and on.

But everywhere I turned, the theme of God’s love kept coming up—whether it be through Scripture, songs, or a friend’s timely word. His love sustained me.

As I closed the chapter of enduring chemo and opened a new chapter where my hair started growing back, my life began to normalize and I could tell God had much more to teach me about experiencing and trusting His love.  Actually, I think it was more that He wanted to help me live out the lessons He had taught me about His love.

A few months after I finished chemo, I visited the doctor for a routine check-up. Later that day, I received a call that one of my blood count numbers was very high. I tried not to panic because the number was known to fluctuate but there was still that nagging feeling of what if? What if the cancer’s back? What if I have to lose my hair again? What if I’ll never have kids?

Although I knew intellectually that God was fully in control, internally I was freaking out—which showed me that at the core, I didn’t trust Him or His love for me to give me what I needed.  Again, God brought another song into my life, this one again about God’s love to reinforce what He had been teaching me.

This song was called “Your Love Never Fails” by Jesus Culture. The chorus says, “You make all things work together for my good…Your love never fails, there may be pain in the night but joy comes in the morning.” I played that song over and over and over until the lyrics were ingrained in my head and I could say back to God, “You makes all things work together for my good and so I will trust You love me and will give me the courage I need to get through this” even if it meant the worst case scenario.

Thankfully it was just a scare, but I will never forget that time because it added another chapter of experiencing and trusting God’s love to my story and deepened my confidence that no matter what, I could trust Him.

I took those lessons about God’s love to heart and they bolstered me as I trusted God with the desires of my heart, specifically to start a family. My oncologist told us we had to wait a year after the chemo before beginning a family, and that wait was excruciatingly difficult.

It felt like everywhere I turned a friend was pregnant or a stranger was holding a baby in my view. But then as long as the wait felt, when the time was right, we quickly got pregnant. I was so overwhelmed with God’s tender love for me and providing in such a meaningful way.

As my 20-week ultrasound approached, all those feelings and fears of my cancer check-ups came flooding back, and fear about the health of our baby almost overtook me.

As I struggled through my fear, so many times I would think to myself, “I thought I already learned this lesson! And yet I am back here again!” But God helped me see that I had learned some lessons about His love but He wanted to take me to a deeper place with them. In those moments, I had to rehearse all of the things that God had taught me in the past several years about His love and His good character all over again. As I prepared for the appointment, I knew I wasn’t guaranteed a healthy baby, but I knew I could trust God to give us what we needed. And so I poured out my heart to Him about all of my concerns and fears and hopes.

Let me also confess that as much as I was praying for a healthy baby, I was asking God for a little girl. I was so thrilled to be pregnant that I really was perfectly happy with a girl or a boy but if I could be honest, my deepest desire was to have a girl first.

To my delight, the doctor told us our baby was not only perfectly healthy but a girl! On the way home, I was driving by myself, thanking God for His wonderful gift and you’ll never believe what song came on the radio: “How He Loves Us.” 

I burst into tears and felt God say to my heart very clearly,
 “I love you on your worst days (when I found out about the cancer) and I love you on your best days (when I found out I was having a girl, the desire of my heart).” I will never forget that moment when the lesson about God’s love came full circle.

Whether you are in a season of waiting, trial, or routine, God has an intimate love that is personal just for you that He wants you to experience. I encourage you to ask God, will you show me how much You love me? And then open your ears and eyes to hear and see the answer. I can attest to several times where I have asked God to give me tangible evidence of His love and have been blown away by how personal He has answered me. He longs to show you His love for you personally.

 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are.” (1 John 3:1)

You can connect with Michelle at her blog


  1. This is beautiful. I love hearing your story every time you share it. Thank you for always being so willing to share such tender things with the world. xo

  2. Thanks for sharing Michelle! Your story encourages me to share my own more publicly.

    I haven't shared this publicly, but Spring 2012 I found out I was pregnant (surprise!) and I was feeling extremely worried about our ultrasound...just one of those really bad gut feelings. As I was driving (with my 7 month old in the backseat) I had this overwhelming sense of God's voice, nearly audible. He said "Whatever happens today, it will be ok. I am big enough." and as the chills rolled down my spine I said to my son "Tommy, whatever happens today, it will be ok. God is big enough." An hour later we found out that our baby had a genetic disorder and would not survive.

    God had gone before me. He had seen fit to remind me of His promise that He could handle it - even when I couldn't.

  3. Michelle, Thank you for this wonderful message of hope and grace! Being patient in affliction, which includes the waiting process and the not knowing what is to be and what is to come, must be one of our most difficult dilemmas. We lose hope and faith so quickly and DO have to relearn how to trust our God again and again. At least I do! Life is really hard sometimes, and we can't make sense of some difficult circomstances, but it is "there" that we must choose Jesus.

  4. I love how God speaks to us through music! That also happened to me when I was praying about adopting Karly…the song was "The Best is Yet to Come" and He was right. Ten years later, we can't imagine life without her!

  5. Michelle, You have been such a blessing to our family, especially to Dalton. For all the love you gave to all of your students and parents, I know that you will always be blessed and cared for by Him. You inspire and encourage and for that I/we will always be grateful. Love you.