At one time or another throughout life, we all have to wait for things. But when you are having medical issues and have to wait for a diagnosis, your wait feels different. With your body acting up, your mind can become riddled with fear and anxiety as you obsess over every possible “what if”.
Nobody really enjoys this type of waiting. But since we all go through it as a normal part of life, shouldn’t we accept that it’s going to happen and learn to wait well?
My Years Of Waiting For Test Results
Over the years, I have become pretty familiar with trying to hold it together while waiting for a diagnosis. My young adult years were marked with pain and frustration due to medical issues that we couldn’t seem to figure out. Doctor visits, tests, and waiting for a diagnosis became an unwanted cycle in my life.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6a, DARBY)
As a child, my brothers and I would spend hot summer days swimming at a stone quarry. Not being a strong swimmer, I can’t say it was my favorite place to be. The dark, seemingly bottomless pit terrified me.
As my brothers dove right into the cold water, I would sit on the stone wall that was used to hold back the deep quarry from the kiddie pond. Not wanting to be left behind, I would eventually work up the courage to carefully slide into the water on the deep side.
Once there I always tried to stay within arms reach of the wall and just tread water. Occasionally I would get distracted and drift a bit too far. When my little arms could no longer reach that solid wall of comfort, I would cry out and my older brother would pull me back to safety.
After hours in the water, we would head for the snack bar. One candy bar each was our reward for
surviving a fun-filled day in the sun. We would then rest in the heat of the day enjoying our treat as we waited for our ride home.
Time Moves Along
Although my 20s and 30s were spent medically drifting too far from the safety of the wall, my 40s were spent treading water. Each doctor visit would reveal a new issue and a new diagnosis. Unlike my friends, I was excited to turn 50! I fully anticipated finally being able to stay out of the deep water and be on my merry way enjoying my candy bar reward.
But we all know life doesn’t always go the way we think it should, right?
“A man’s mind plans his ways (as he journeys through life) but the Lord directs his steps and establishes them.” (Proverbs 16:9 AMP)
There Is No Such Thing As Normal
A short while ago, it was time for my yearly mammogram. I was told to expect a letter in the mail within the week letting me know my diagnosis was a positive one and I was good for another year. Instead, the next morning my phone rang with a different message. I wasn’t particularly surprised. When you have had cancer, you tend to get flagged. A lot.
After that unwanted phone call, my phone rang again. This doctor called to report that my latest blood work results were wonky (because of cancer my blood work is regularly monitored). This doctor provided a new action plan that we needed to put into place. In 6 weeks when all the test results are in we will be able to reassess. Yes, it will be a long 6 weeks of waiting.
And then there is the foot I broke a year ago. It has begun to act up again and I need to return to find out if my diagnosis has changed and what we will need to do about it this time.
I did tell you that I have lots of experience with learning to wait well for a diagnosis, right?!? 🙂
So here I am once again waiting for not just one diagnosis but multiple. Each diagnosis will alter my future one way or another. If I am told what I don’t want to hear, I will be jumping back into the dark, cold, unknown. If I am told the best possible news, my future will still be changed because I will be changed (my thoughts, my faith, my vigilance, my relationships, etc…).
In the past, I have occasionally handled waiting for a diagnosis in a way that was pleasing to God. Other times, I’m pretty sure I have failed miserably. As I wait for these multiple diagnoses, my heart’s desire is that I won’t freak out imagining the worst or zone out on autopilot. I am determined to be intentional in my thoughts and actions, trusting God.
How I Wait Well For A Diagnosis
My Foundation of Rock
The foundation of my waiting is simple: I stay in my Bible and pray. Both are non-negotiable and vital to my sanity while I wait. There simply isn’t a shortcut or substitute for either of them. Without holding firmly to Jesus nothing else I do while I wait would help.
I try to be intentional and have a purpose for my study time by researching things like prayer, health, healing, struggles, deliverance, and even death. Even if I don’t want to hear something, I know God will still speak his truth without sugar-coating it. That brings me comfort.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33 KJV)
Praise & Worship
Prolonged times of praise and worship become a priority to me. It keeps the fear at bay, refreshes my spirit, helps keep my thoughts focused, and is my battle cry. Just in the past year, just about every single time God has brought me healing it has been during my private praise and worship times.
I learned about this powerful spiritual weapon through the Bible. For example, in the Old Testament, Joshua learned the power of obedience and praise allowing him to experience victory (Joshua 5:13-6:20).
In the New Testament, Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God while in prison. They didn’t wait until their circumstances changed to praise. They had learned to show their trust through praise and worship in spite of their circumstances and God rewarded them.
Ask God For A Support System
Just as God blessed Moses with a few trusted souls to stand beside him, I trusted that God would do the same for me. As you can imagine, my husband and I have been fighting these health battles for a long time. When we grow too tired to hold ourselves up God provides like-minded brothers and sisters to stand in the gap with us. (Exodus 17:12).
Without a doubt, knowing there is a small army fighting for us with the strongest weapon possible (their prayers) really does add to my peace and gratitude.
Having a support system in place is important because if we aren’t careful, Satan will use this time of waiting to separate us and make us feel lonely and forgotten. Nobody needs those lies.
Stay Off The Internet
I resist the urge to search Google. Because I was trained as a medical transcriptionist, I know how scary some of the “medical” sites can be. “Everything points to cancer and you are doomed to die tomorrow” is not a message I want in my spirit.
While in a season of waiting for a diagnosis, I avoid social media in general. Because misery loves company, it isn’t hard to find someone on social media to jump on my pity party bandwagon. As tempting as that is, it has proven to be more harmful than helpful. Why? Because it hurts your faith when others speak unbelief over you or share their not-so-great experiences (and don’t we all feel the urge to chime in with a “me too!”).
Be Still And Know
We need a support system but at the same time, we have to limit the amount of “outside voices” we listen to. I have learned the hard way that everyone has an opinion and most of it comes from well-meaning folks with no idea what I was really going through.
Instead, I do my best to shut out the outside voices, be still, and listen for God’s soft voice as we walk through the latest trial together.
A Change Of Perspective
When I first started having medical issues, I didn’t know my thoughts and words mattered. But when God showed me a better way (His way), I fought hard to change my mindset so I wouldn’t fall into a dark, scary place again.
Being scared is normal and there is nothing wrong with respectfully telling God how you feel. But don’t fall into the trap of staying there. Move on; do your best not to dwell on negative thoughts.
David did this in Psalm 13. He started out by crying out to God asking “Oh Lord, how long?” By the end of the Psalm, he says, “But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he has been good to me.”
Did you see that there? David didn’t let himself stay in that dark mental place. He began to use a powerful spiritual weapon we’ve already talked about: praise and worship! He sang to subdue, take captive, and change his thoughts which changed his perspective of his situation. Since David did it, we know that we can too!
Pray And Fast
Almost always I go into a time of prayer and fasting as I wait for a diagnosis. I usually ask God to show me what it is I should fast and for how long.
Everyone’s situation is different but I don’t usually enter into this time with a “heal me” attitude. Instead, I tend to pray and fast that God would use what I am going through to bless someone else, to grow my godly fruits, and to reveal to me the hidden places in my life I need to repent and break free of.
As You Wait For A Diagnosis
If you find yourself in a time of waiting for a diagnosis, pray and ask God to share with you which methods mentioned above that he would like you to focus on. When you feel yourself leaning towards one thing over another, don’t second guess yourself, just go with it. Use it as a step of faith.
As you learn to wait well, accept that you will be on a learning curve just like everyone else. Keep in mind that God asks us to trust him. God doesn’t call us to be perfect but obedient. As we are obedient, he has promised that he will work all things out for the good of those who love him. He won’t let us down, no matter what. In turn, we need to trust him no matter what.
Am I doing everything right as I wait for these diagnoses? Probably not. But God’s grace covers me and He will teach me from my mistakes.
However, I am happy to report that my breast biopsy came back. I am getting my candy bar reward and moving on.
As far as my questionable blood work, we are in the middle of testing so we must continue to wait for that diagnosis. In regards to a diagnosis for my foot, my appointment isn’t for a few weeks yet.
I tell you these things to let you know that nobody has “made it”. Nobody gets through life without struggling with a medical diagnosis at one time or another. Just because you are a Christian doesn’t mean you will automatically know how to deal in a godly way with the stress of waiting on a diagnosis.
Just as God provided manna daily for his people in the desert, he wants us to seek him daily for our manna (miracle). Meaning, just because God healed you once doesn’t mean you won’t need healing again. Just because He took your pain today doesn’t mean you won’t need him to take your pain tomorrow. Just because you prayed once for this healing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep asking (Matthew 7:7-8).
Having to rely on God daily doesn’t mean you didn’t get healed or you lost your healing. It simply means you have to take that step of faith every single day and choose to trust God.
Please understand that I am not a super saint. I have had my moments of tears and anger. I have fallen into a black pit of despair more than once. How I choose to handle waiting for a diagnosis will certainly make a difference in my outcome. But what makes the biggest difference is knowing that Jesus is right there with me. I can’t imagine a better lifeguard!
For Additional Reading: Is It Okay To Yell At God?
For Additional Reading: How I learned To Take My Thoughts Captive
For Additional Reading: Where Is God When I’m Sick?
For Additional Reading: Trouble Will Come
For Additional Reading: Prayer And Fasting
I would love to hear how you have learned to wait well while waiting for a diagnosis. We are all here to learn from each other so please comment below and let me know!
If you feel overwhelmed and need someone to stand in faith and pray with you as you wait for a diagnosis, send me a message or comment below. I’m not as faithful as God but I will do my absolute best not to let you down.