Whenever Jeannette Choi visited the sick and hurting, she frequently encouraged them with words from Isaiah 43:2-3, “When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God…”
These words became reality when she was faced with her own trial by fire. In 2011, Jeanette received word that her cancer was back. Through her pain and struggles, her faith did not waver. She claimed God’s promises. She constantly relied on God’s faithfulness to make her “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-6). Jeanette gave us permission to share her story through excerpts from her Christmas newsletter and e-mails. You will see Jeanette’s relationship with the Lord her God, and how she is walking through the fire.
December 2012 Christmas Newsletter:
One night I was suddenly awakened by piercing pain, like a knife stabbing me over and over again. I screamed and prayed earnestly to the Lord and called out His name. In tears I reasoned with Him…”Remember me as a little girl walking to Chinatown every Sunday to attend church to worship you? I did not know you personally yet, but I showed reverence toward you at a young age. Did I not choose to marry someone who shared the same devotion to you? Did we not serve together and raise children who also love and serve you? Did I not work and commit to a profession that you called me into and persevered under difficult circumstances? I have no other God and you know it. I have never left you and don’t You turn away from me.” I cried out to God and quoted many Bible verses to claim the promises. “You said I am to call upon You in the day of trouble, and You will rescue me in Psalm 50:15.”
At work, a health therapist came to me for help with her client who wanted to end her life. I went into the office to see the lady. Her face was emotionless and her eyes had an empty gaze. I held her hand and said to her, “I know you are experiencing emotional pain and now I understand better what pain is like. I have a serious illness and I don’t know how long I will live. Life is too precious. I will not give up. Will you say with me that you will not give up either?” Tears began to flow down her face and she promised “not to give up.” Pain can break or shape a person’s inner being. I have always had a good understanding of and empathy for human suffering, but the experience of extraordinary physical pain and facing a life and death situation brought me to a different dimension of understanding. I became more sensitive to other people’s suffering and more in tune with the wounds and vulnerability of the hurting souls around me.
Matthew 18:18 indicates that we Christians are given authority. So I began to exercise this authority over the illness. I claimed Christ’s victory over Satan and over cancer. I also made up my mind to live with joy and to find things to laugh about and to do things as much as I am able. Many colleagues tried to find out “my secret of joy.” I had opportunities to pray with other staff members.
The doctors started Jeanette on intense intravenous and oral chemo therapy to control the cancer. Weeks after starting the treatments:
I endured difficult side effects, but God gave me the strength to go to work to get my team ready for my absence during surgery. The toxic chemicals affected my hands and damaged the veins, but my nurse, husband, and I continued to pray. Eventually, the pain subsided and my strength came from claiming God’s promises in the Bible and focusing on a positive outcome that was guaranteed for me. Sure enough, God came through.
By the end of June, my body was very weak after going through so many traumas – ongoing chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation. God knew my condition and prepared a special treat for me. God opened up the opportunity for me to go on an Alaskan cruise. During the whole trip, I breathed fresh clean air, ate, and slept well. That was exactly what I needed and God provided in a loving and tender way through His planning.
I am thankful for each and every prayer offered on my behalf and everyone who came to offer food, soup, flowers, companionship, and other forms of support. You are like angels God has sent to uphold me and guard me so that I can win the battle over cancer. My recovery experience is a valuable and precious one. It has helped me to be assured and restful rather than anxious and worried about the future. I’ve experienced less compulsion, and need to do extraneous tasks. I have a deeper appreciation for close and intimate conversations with the Master. Each day, I embrace life with a thankful heart for my faithful Lord. I will do my best to live for Him and commit to Him what is difficult for me to accomplish. Having walked through fire, a certain part within me is more refined. I will be a more suitable vessel to be used by the Master for His glory.