In about 36 hours, I will begin my first round of chemotherapy. The word chemotherapy is scary enough, but I’m not sure it communicates the full measure of what this lethal process entails. When I arrive at the hospital at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday, I will be connected to bags of toxic chemicals via the rubber tube that resides semi-permanently near my collar bone with direct access into my carotid artery. These chemicals, which cannot even touch my skin without causing burns, will course through my body killing various cells. Hopefully more cancerous ones than healthy ones.

Over two days, I will be receiving three different chemotherapy drugs and twice as many other medicines to help control the side effects. Still, I will spend the next several days on high alert for such symptoms as nausea, lightheadedness, body aches, ringing in my ears, and numbness. Not to mention I will almost certainly lose all of my hair, have red urine for a few days, and develop ulcers in my mouth. In three weeks, just when I am feeling better from the surgery and this first round of chemotherapy, I will go back and do it all again.

This process might heal my body of cancer.

On Sunday afternoon, I spent about 20 minutes in a room full of elders from my church as well as several close friends. One of the elders dabbed his finger in a bottle of oil and made the sign of the cross on my forehead. Then, with their hands placed firmly on my shoulders, hands, and feet, the elders prayed beautiful words of healing and grace. I cried some, I felt lifted up, I received a great deal of courage. They prayed for my body and my soul. They prayed that I would resist the devil and the urge to doubt. They asked God to relieve my pain and to keep me safe from the side effects of chemo. Most of all, they told God how much they love me. They told me, too.

This process might also heal my body of cancer, but it will definitely bring healing to my soul.

I don’t have all the answers about how God works in bringing healing to people. I’ve seen people healed from cancer through the drugs of chemotherapy or the beams of radiation. I also know people who were healed supernaturally through the power of prayer. I’ve also known people who’ve been given both chemotherapy and prayer and have died from cancer anyway.

When God says in Psalm 139 that he has my days numbered and knew all of them before I was born, I have to believe that he means it. At the same time, when God tells me in the book of James that if I am sick, I can call the elders and they will pray and that prayer offered in faith can make a sick person well, I have to believe that too.

So as I countdown to chemotherapy on Thursday, I trust the Lord for his sovereign plan for my life. I also trust that the prayers many of you are praying for me also are part of that plan. And oh, how I need them just now.