“The Year of the Lord’s Favor”

Had an Unexpected Start

For Christmas, I gave Robyn, our kids and our sons-in-law, each a small smooth stone on which I’d painted a theme Scripture for the new year. Each one was different.

As I begin this post, it’s a little after 5:30 a.m. on January 1, 2018, so Happy New Year! Robyn and I have declared it the Year of the Lord’s Favor (from Isaiah 61:2), which was the verse I gave her.

We began the new year at Mercy Hospital. It’s a good name, don’t you think?

About a week and a half ago, we noticed Robyn was bruising very easily. Five days ago, she had an appointment with our family doctor who is also a dear friend. After reviewing her lab results the following day, things began to move fast. He immediately referred her to a hematologist. Later that day, she had a bone marrow biopsy. A follow up visit was scheduled for January 8th. We were told we’d get a phone call if it was serious, so we should hope to not get one.

Yesterday morning, we got one.

Robyn was diagnosed with a treatable and curable form of leukemia. Within a couple hours, we were checking in to the hospital to begin chemo. Because of the form of leukemia and the type of treatment, she will be in the hospital 24/7 for about a month. This is day 2.

It would be impossible to capture all that has led to this moment, but I believe God has been preparing us for this time throughout the past year and beyond. If you want to see how, I encourage you to read some of the recent posts from 2017.

I want to be clear that when I say God has been preparing us, I do not mean He has been preparing cancer for us. He has been preparing us for cancer. And He has been so good and so faithful to do so.

Robyn and I believe it’s significant that her diagnosis came on the last day of 2017. Leukemia will be a thing of our past. It will not be the defining factor in 2018. This is the Year of the Lord’s Favor, not the year of leukemia.

A number of months ago, I started to read an article in which the author said, “I don’t know why God gave me cancer.” I’ll be honest, I immediately stopped reading. God doesn’t give anyone cancer. It’s horrible theology to believe that. He gives life, not death. God is a good Father who delights in His children. He’s not handing out diseases to test our faith or punish us. Instead, He lovingly gets us ready for the tests He sees coming.

In John 10:10, Jesus gave us great insight into discerning His activity and the activity of the enemy…

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Difficulties will come for all of us, even in a Year of the Lord’s Favor. But God will not allow something into your life He has not already prepared you to experience. Of course, as I did for many years, we can waste the time of preparation.

For a long time, I doubted one very simple truth. I doubted God’s goodness. I wrongly focused on what He didn’t do for me, rather than all He did do. I based my view of Him on what I experienced, not what His Word revealed. Disappointments became evidence I could use to accuse Him of not being good or faithful.

Last year, a good friend was going through a confusing and difficult health situation. He told me he would read Psalm 46 and Psalm 91 everyday and God used those words to give him peace and get him through it. Last night, as Robyn was being prepared for her first chemo treatment, I read aloud those two Psalms. We are choosing to hold onto the truths revealed in those Psalms, not what we see or feel.

We invite you to believe God in your own life, not whatever you are seeing or feeling. Refuse to listen to the negative voices and discouraging circumstances. Choose to believe He is good. Trust that He is for you, not against you.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)

Robyn and I also invite you to believe God with us for her total healing. One of my ongoing prayers is for her and I to enjoy 60+ years of marriage and ministry together in good health. We’ll celebrate our 33rd anniversary this year, so we have a long way to go.

One last thing…I have to brag about how amazing my wife has handled everything that’s happened in the last five days. She has experienced some difficult stuff and hasn’t complained once. Her faith is rock solid and her joy is full. To say I admire her doesn’t even come close.

If you feel led, please leave a comment for her.

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33 thoughts on ““The Year of the Lord’s Favor”

  1. Dear Robyn, I praise God for His love and mercy to you and to all of us who “believe”. I will pray for His anointed healing upon you, and for His blessings upon your dear husband as he minister to you. May God bless you abundantly this New Year.

  2. Robyn,
    I am so sorry to hear this news. I will commit to lifting you up daily as you walk through this intense and difficult journey. I do not doubt your courage and faith. You are a mighty warrior my friend. I will pray that your joy will continue in the midst of this battle. Can’t wait to see how God intends to use this for His great glory!
    Nika Waitsman

  3. Robyn I don’t know u well but I so appreciate how the Lord has used u to touch the lives He have led your way. I will pray these scriptures for you & 2nd Corinthians 4: 8 – 9 & the 23rd of Psalms.

    Much love,
    Inger

  4. Robyn, I will pray for you and that you feel the presence of God beside you every moment of every day. Jesus has brought us the words of our Father, and they are the truth. Luckier are we yet that the Holy Spirit has come to help and guide us. Continue following Jesus. God Loves is far beyond our understanding. God be with you!

  5. I have felt your strength and joy in adversity by being led to read this because of ties to Karen elder Bonner whom I went to church with many moons ago. God Sure brings together and orchestrates so many opportunities for us to grow outside our comfort zones. I’ll just call it Branching Out. Praying for you now to rock and conquer this disease AND thank you in advance for sharing your fight and letting Jesus be the star of this show. I believe God Loves when we show off his son and gives us the courage to SHINE even when it is a bit cloudy. Praying for you and your family. Keep Shining☀️

  6. Hi Greg & Robyn,
    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story.
    I came upon it in my FB newsfeed, about an hour ago. It had been shared by a mutual friend.
    I read it to my husband, which then led into our morning prayer time (before he left for work). We prayed for you, for our faithful brothers and sisters throughout the world, and for ourselves as we face a new year, knowing and serving and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
    It was a great reminder and encouragement that God does prepare us for tough times, that He does not bring harm upon us and that He pulls us through.
    I was reminded of Job, Ruth and other believers of old who faithfully and humbly stood their ground in the face of troubles.
    May God embrace you both as you trust in His goodness, and allow Him to use this time in your lives to bless you and make you a blessing to others.
    Fran & Ian xox
    Melbourne, Australia

  7. Your story has inspired me. I too witnessed a miracle at the end of 2017 and received my liver transplant after a short time on the list but I had cancer and although I was in remission this was the only cure. I’m doing well and praying for Robyn. I would love to know how all of you are doing. Read lots. Keep your bible handy. I feel as though you will be drawn to different parts of the Bible as your journey moves forward. Love and blessings to all of you

    Timi

  8. Praying for God’s healing and favor for you and Robyn. Thank you for sharing this faithful witness and trust in our mighty and awesome God. He is with us in ALL things.

  9. Enjoyed reading this so much Gregg. I am amazed that in the two pictures you have posted of Robyn on Facebook (one of just her and the other of the two of you) she has a big smile on her face. After reading what you wrote it’s obvious God is giving her peace. I’m sure you will both be an awesome testimony to the nurses and doctors treating her.

  10. Gregg – loved your beautiful and true perspective on how God has been preparing y’all for this time and not preparing cancer for you. That ministered to me.

    Dennis and I will faithfully pray for your healing, Robyn. Love you! And we will be praying for Gregg and all of the family too.

    Much love from the Schellhases (now near Charlotte, NC)

  11. Good perspective, Gregg. Thanks for sharing. My continued thoughts and prayers abide with you and for you.
    Much love.
    Roger

  12. Robyn,
    I admire your strength and courage. I will think of you every day and I will say a prayer for your continued healing. I thank you both for your selflessness while you share your most unexpected journey. You are demonstrating to those of us life skills that we all need someday but may not know we have.
    I like when Gregg said you were given the diagnosis in 2017 and now it is the new year 2018. I liked that symbolism.

    Much love,
    Sandy Reitz Weintraub

  13. Gregg and Robyn, Your faith has lifted me up today…and I will be lifting you in prayer as you walk this journey together.❤️

  14. Cameron and I are praying with you! We love you and are so grateful to have such a beautiful example as you in walking daily with Christ even in the hard stuff.

  15. One thing I’ve learned from many trials in life is that the Lord uses every one to produce His character in us. He is Sovereign over all and in His faithfulness and His mercy He really does use everything for our good. To Him be the glory for great things He has done and will do in us and through us! Grace and peace for you and Greg.

  16. My prayers are with you and Robyn as you both go though this difficult time. God always has His plan and I am praying for complete healing!

  17. Dear Robyn and Gregg, thank you for sharing this with all of us. What an encouragement on this first day of 2018! The Morris’ are praying for you. Love you guys!

  18. Dearest Gregg & Robyn,
    How I love u! I just arrived last night in NJ w/Matt & Laurie. We were talking about Fireworks, holidays, etc. Matt mentioned that he remembered his first fireworks show in Little Rock with his little friend Rachel Stutts😊. As I was going to bed I looked on Facebook & saw your beautiful photo & the news. My heart is sad that u r having to go through this. I will be praying every day for your complete healing & courage to take each step. May you experience His deep, deep love for you through His Word & Spirit, through your amazing husband, and the prayers of so many that your life has touched, including me.

  19. Robyn
    I love you
    I know God has a purpose for this journey you are on..,,,I would have picked a different one but once again Gods is always better…..
    For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
    My heart broke when I heard your diagnosis, fear sunk in…..but I know with all my faith and soul God is healing you right now and he is using this to bring so many to Glority and Praise Him ! Dear sweet friend I will be with you on this journey You and Gregg always inspire Mark and I to see life with succ Hope and Faith. I love you

  20. You two are indeed blessed to be so aware of God’s love and care for you. Gregg, thank you for your words. I am sharing them with a friend undergoing cancer treatment. Many prayers coming your way. Continued blessings to you both and your families.

  21. Gregg and Robyn – I haven’t seen you in 30 years, but I fondly remember your faith and vitality, which is clearly still evident today. I commit to praying for Robyn’s health and trusting in our good God.

  22. Robyn, thank you for your courage, faith and joy in the midst of difficult trial!

    My prayer for you comes from
    Job 42:12 (NASB):
    “The LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning”

    Lots of love & admiration to you, and Gregg!

  23. Dear Greg and Robyn,I love you .I love your family and I’m committing to praying Psalm 91 and Psalm 46 every morning ,fasting for your complete healing for the next 30 days I’m clinging to our unshakable,steady and strong Saviour to be ever present with you sweet Robyn like never before .”and this is the confidence that we have toward Him ,that if we ask anything according to His will he hears us “ 1 John 5:14
    Connie ,for Chris and our very big Italian Family 💕

  24. Robyn and Gregg, know that we are praying constantly for you in this. I am thankful for your words, your strong faith and your obedience to the Lord in the midst of this. Oh how He will use you in the lives of the people you will encounter on this journey. I’m so sorry you are facing this, I know it’s hard. I love you.

  25. Thank you for sharing your life in ways that help me know God more intimately, Gregg. I’m thankful for the Mastermind group that fostered the crossing of our paths. My prayers are focused on you and Robyn this morning, and the love God will shower on you during this next phase of life.

  26. Oh Robyn, the joy is spilling out of you in the photo Gregg took. Not “fun” news, but so encouraging to hear your hearts are trusting in Him. We will definitely pray for complete healing, and strength to face the days ahead (this month in particular). Love to you both! Mary Beth and Rick

  27. Robyn I have never met you but I have always admired you through Gregg speaking of you. In every photo your smile is infectious, including the one of you in the hospital bed. While we don’t ask for these type of things to happen, I am sure that God has you right where he needs you and while he holds you close, you are a ray of sunshine in a place where people need and desire hope! I will pray for you, for healing, strength for your family and your husband and for each person that you touch on this journey that they experience God”s love and promise through your smile, words and friendship. God Bless you and keep you!