Dressed for the Test in a Garment of Praise
Storyteller: Tomoko Gane
Tomoko Gane became a member of CrossPoint Church in 1984. She and her husband, Pastor Jim, celebrated their 30th anniversary in 2019. God has blessed them with five sons: Luke, Joshua, Matthew and twins Noah and Jacob. In 2019 they added two more members to their family – daughters-in-law; MacKenzie and Priscilla.
“Needless to say, this has been a wonderful year. In good times, as well as times when life seems to be unraveling, I have the privilege of sharing with others my garment of praise,” she says.
One of her favorite scripture verses is Isaiah 61:3 – “To grant to those who mourn in Zion, to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise, instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” It has helped her to persevere through the worst of times.
In 2007, her family lost their precious 4-year-old niece to the hands of a family member. “During times like this, wearing the garment of praise was very difficult,” she admits. “Her death was incredibly difficult – the darkest time of my life. But seeing my amazing sister-in-law exemplify the Lord’s love, mercy, forgiveness and grace through such adversity, and how she never wavered from her faith to this day, has inspired so many. Her faith gave me and the rest of my family a sense of peace and strength that passes all understanding – even through the most distressing loss a family could experience.”
Just one year later Luke, their oldest son, came home from the beach with a nosebleed that lasted close to an hour and sent them to the ER. “That nosebleed turned out to be a lifesaver,” recalls Tomoko. “Before we knew it, we found ourselves on the oncology floor at CHOC Children’s Hospital, fearing the worst. Our 16-year-old son, who dreamed of playing college football one day, had cancer.”
Watching their son go through his illness, Tomoko and Jim felt helpless. She recalls, “We leaned on the Lord and worked to never stop thanking Him through the many ups and downs, trusting God for His will to be done. Luke was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood disorder called Severe Aplastic Anemia. After two weeks of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, God saved his life through our youngest son, Jacob. He and his twin brother, Noah, were a miraculous match. Luke ended up returning home and back to school after four months in the ICU ward. He was also able to start on the football team the next year, his senior year. He then had the privilege of attending UCLA and playing football as a preferred walk-on. He is now a special education teacher at Westminster High School and is helping in the youth ministry at his church.”
She continues, “Two years later, 12-year-old Noah endured a six-hour surgery to correct a bone defect, followed by a two-week stay in the hospital. He left the hospital with a metal bar embedded in his chest cavity for more than six months. There were some challenges during those six months as he was healing, but we praised God for allowing the doctors to catch this necessary medical repair in time. “Noah is now a thriving junior at Vanguard University and on their worship team.”
In 2012, a sharp pain in Tomoko’s back pain led to a major abdominal surgery called a Whipple Procedure, which is a highly invasive type of surgery, second only to a kidney transplant. Tomoko recalls, “The surgery was a success, or so we thought. The day before I was to be transferred to the rehab center, I began vomiting liver-size blood clots for more than 12 hours. My medical team discovered internal bleeding and had to go back in for surgery to repair it. After the repair, the vomiting continued for more than 24 hours. At first, they thought it was residual matter from the repair. I found myself back in surgery for a second bleed. It was not until my six-month post-op appointment that I was informed I had only a 20 percent chance of surviving during those 24 hours.”
In the midst of seemingly hopeless circumstances like this, Tomoko has persevered with confidence. “I just knew God would pull me through that surgery. With the insurmountable waves of prayer and support from my family, friends and church family, I felt confident I could trust Him, and so can you,” she says.
“My God knows and He cares! Because I know this love of God, I have found that by offering God praise in times of adversity and not giving up when my spirit turns faint, my life has been enriched by the garment of praise.”
Apologist John Lennox stated that the hardest thing to explain or understand is why God allows human suffering. Tomoko agrees. “Suffering is hard to understand. But each time I have experienced suffering, I knew deep down I was in the Lord’s loving arms through all of the confusion, fear and pain. As I drew closer to Him and trusted in Him, wearing the garment of praise became a little bit easier.
“Jesus suffered many things while on this earth, so He can relate to us when we suffer. Jesus died an unfair, untimely death to provide for your forgiveness and mine. Jesus rose from the dead, triumphing over death for all eternity on our behalf. He waits for us now in heaven. Because that is so, I can praise Him and thank Him right in the middle of hardships.
“The best antidote I’ve found for worrying, complaining and becoming discouraged is praise and gratitude. It’s not always easy, but praising and thanking God is a much better way! When we face hardship with faith, we show a broken and hurting world that a loving, strong supportive God covers us through our toughest times!
“I’m honored to be wearing the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit, knowing my Father in Heaven made this garment for me,” Tomoko maintains. “I am confident He has made one for you, too.”
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