This is How I Fight My Battles


In 2014, I started my junior year as a transfer at University of California, Irvine. I had busted my butt at a community college for two years and was ecstatic to finally get out and experience the college adventure all my friends got to have. I was starting a new life at UCI all the while serving and loving God at my church. Life was fun and life was good.

One weekend, I came back home to visit my parents. My mom came up to me, concerned. “There’s a lump in my throat and it hurts.” The next weekend, we were at the ENT. The following weekend, we were at the local hospital getting a biopsy. A month after, we were sitting at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center as our doctor explained, “We found cancer cells in your thyroid. We have to take you in for surgery.” It all happened so quickly: I couldn’t fully process what was happening. I was shocked because there’s not a trace of cancer in my family history. Although I knew thyroid cancer was not an aggressive cancer, the potential complications, the ceaseless financial burden, and the changes it was going to have on my family overwhelmed me.    

During this time, I led worship at church every Friday night service. There weren’t too many of us, but the consistent few came out to just worship and pray. Due to my situation, I took a three week break to take care of my mom. As the fourth week rolled around, I was getting antsy. I hadn’t seen my friends and I wanted to be back at church. Having let go of so many responsibilities actually gave me more anxiety. I needed to get back to my normal life routine. So I called my pastor and told him I was coming back to lead worship that Friday.

It had been three weeks since my mom’s surgery, since I had led others into worship. As I prepared for the worship set, I wrestled a lot because I wasn’t sure if I was emotionally ready to take back my role. I wasn’t sure if I was spiritually ready to confidently sing about God’s faithfulness or declare His goodness during this time. I asked God, “What do I sing… my faith is growing faint, but my heart knows I need You. How do I lead these people into worship when I’m not even sure what to say to You at this time?” It wasn’t very profound but I felt the Lord say, “Sing to me what you need.” I replied, “I need a healer.”

The first song that popped up in my head was Healer by Hillsong. At first, I hesitated because I  thought I was being selfish or too personal for singing a song I needed to sing over my personal circumstance. But remembering how God spoke to me, I started singing the chorus in faith, “I believe You’re my healer, I believe You are all I need.” To be honest, I don’t even think I got through singing the full chorus without my voice trembling and me bursting into tears. I shied away from the microphone because I couldn’t keep a steady voice. I took a deep breath to calm my heart before I started singing again.  

But that’s when I heard it. Though there were less than 10 people in the room, it felt like a crowd shouting this anthem with me. I get chills remembering this moment. Even when I couldn’t sing the words, the church was singing and believing on my behalf to declare this truth. We sang the chorus again, and I felt faith rising in my heart again. My friends’ faiths fueled my own as they worshiped God. Worship became a weapon that night. Just like how prison doors opened and chains broke as Apostle Paul and Silas praised God in prison (Acts 16:26). Just like how  harmful spirits fled from King Saul when David worshiped with his harp (1 Samuel 16:23). Just like how Jehoshaphat’s army won the battle against the Ammonites and Moabites by singing praises (2 Chronicles 20:22). I felt God contending on our behalf through our worship. Worshiping God that night gave me the courage to fight against the enemy’s lies and the faith to believe in my Healer again. And it was powerful.  

This is why I love corporate worship and just worship in general. I really believe when people of God gather to worship Him in spirit and in truth, faith comes alive. In worship, we find courage to declare things we haven’t been able to before. There’s a release into freedom to confess even when I am afraid, God I put my trust in You (Psalm 56:3). That when my flesh and heart fail, You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Psalm 51:17).  Worship creates a place for people to offer themselves to God, knowing God sees not as man sees as He looks at our hearts (1 Samuel 16:7). So whether it’s in our loud cries or quiet whispers, we get to surrender our greatest dreams and fears because “a broken and contrite heart, He will not despise” (Psalms 51:17). But the crazy thing is it’s also a place where God speaks to His people. When His people’s hearts soften, He begins to speak (Jeremiah 33:3). As we turn our attention off of ourselves but to God, we begin to hear. We stop looking at our circumstances and start looking to someone who’s greater and bigger (Exodus 14:14). Suddenly we become so small, our problems seem so miniscule. This doesn’t mean our problems go away or they’re insignificant. It simply puts things to perspective. This is the power of worship.

Juliet Yoo graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a B.A. in Psychology and Social Behavior and is currently a substitute teacher aspiring to be a middle school teacher. She has lived in South Korea and Japan but now lives in West Covina, CA. 

esther chungComment