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When Hope Feels Too Far

Today, I welcome Nikki Chapman to the guest blog series.  Her story of heartache and her tips for staying connected to the creator are sure to encourage you.  Watch her faith shine through in the midst of losing a child to cancer.

When Hope Feels Too Far

“Your son has stage IV cancer.” The words were still ringing in my head. “The prognosis is not good, maybe 10% chance of a year.” He was nine years old and in perfect health from the outside other than a lump in his right forearm. The drive home was quiet as he slept peacefully in the backseat. All that could be heard were the quiet sobs of my husband and myself.

Why God? Why him? Why us?

Three Years of Questioning

Those questions stayed steady in my heart over the next three years of treatment. But the question, “Why, God, is this happening?” wasn’t the loudest question of mine. We knew why, we live in a fallen world, where cancer affects millions. The bigger question was “Why, God, have you not healed him? You have the power. I don’t understand.”

While that question remained in my thoughts, it wasn’t necessarily accompanied by anger. Exhaustion, yes. Sadness, yes. Celebration in the small victories, very much yes. My human nature would have very much allowed for anger, but that wasn’t the way God built me. My son didn’t need my anger, he needed smiles and laughter and thanksgiving to God for every single day.

We often think we know hard; we think we know what true pain is, but a circumstance, a diagnosis, an unexpected trauma can change everything we thought we knew in a mere moment. It’s a redefining moment in our lives.  Our reaction to this moment sets the tone for the journey ahead.

Faith Shaken

Before Cooper’s diagnosis, I thought I knew what pain was, I thought I knew what faith was. But I quickly found out my understanding of both had been surface level.  I was shaken to the core upon the news of aggressive cancer that had invaded my nine-year-old’s was everywhere. He had been playing basketball for his school team only days before and other than a bump on his arm and some difficulty bending down, no one would have expected.

In our human nature, a response to an unexpected, life-changing event is often anger, which comes from either fear or hurt.  Staring at a path filled with thorny bushes is terrifying and we are often left feeling like it’s impossible to take the next step. Unfortunately, life doesn’t stand still for us to be “okay”, it moves forward unapologetically.

Life didn’t wait for me to be “okay” with what we were given. It jumped into fast forward and those thorny bushes on our path became our daily reality. As the days moved into weeks and months, and treatment consumed every aspect of our lives, it became very clear to me that if I didn’t lean in deeper than ever on my faith, the darkness would set up shop in my heart and soul. Everyone around me would feel it. Cooper would feel it. Jesus would feel it.


8 Tips for Remaining Connected to the Creator

On some days, I had no choice but to fall apart. I still have those days. We all do, and they are absolutely allowed. On those days, this is what keeps me grounded to my Creator.

  1. I give myself grace.
  2. “Help me, Jesus” is my mantra, when more words fail me.
  3. I fill my car, house, office, and earbuds with worship music/podcasts
  4. I take many hot showers filled with tears and cry out to God to keep my heart open to His will.
  5. I remember moments with Cooper and family that I knew were special and say, “Thank you, Jesus.”
  6. I enter and close every day with a short prayer or devotional.
  7. I cling to an anchoring verse and make it part of my mantra.
  8. I envision laying the heartbreak, the circumstance, the diagnosis at the feet of Jesus..and walking away.

The more I relied on God’s provision, every single day, the clearer it became that this impossible path was our God story. He was using Cooper, his cancer journey, and our faith as a family to touch the lives of thousands. He placed people in the right place at the right time. He gave us “God Winks” all the time to remind us He was walking with us through this journey. Some days those winks were as small as watching my sweet, bald and beautiful child giggle at a goofy animal video while hooked up to chemo. The irony was never lost on me in those moments.

Other days, it was a stranger coming up to me to hug me and tell me they were praying for us and our story and sharing our faith had led their family member to Christ. There was my “Why, God” answer and that was all I needed to know. My heart had to be open to see what God was saying when those moments arrived. And those moments made an impossible, thorny-filled path, possible.

Softening our hearts in the midst of a terrible trial can feel impossible, I promise your walk with Christ will be forever changed, just as mine was.  Some days it takes a conscious effort multiple times a day. When the words fail me, and I don’t think I can take another step without breaking down, I still often pray, “Help me, Jesus.”

My Question Answered

My question, “Why, God, don’t you heal him?” was ultimately answered on April 1st, 2021.  I watched my battle-scarred, 12-year old take his last breath. In his last hours, my continuous plea, of “Please, Jesus, take him and heal him with you.” was answered.  No more beeping machines, no more agonizing screams, just silence. A silence both peaceful and heart-shattering.

I realize every time I think about that moment, there is a choice. Be furious at God OR see it as the day Cooper, God’s child, was forever healed and danced out of that hospital, hand-in-hand, with Jesus.

Join me in choosing Jesus today and every day.


Nikki Chapman is a writer, blogger, and IT, consultant. She was given the gift of words after her son was diagnosed with stage IV cancer at the age of nine. She shared intimately their story of faith throughout his three years of treatment. Throughout the journey, she felt the nudge of continuing to share their story in hopes of impacting others and their walk with Christ.

Connect with Nikki at:


Wife of 20+ years. Mom to 3 children. Love sharing my life with weary hearts so that we can know the One who is Good, who is in Control, and Whose strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.