The Lord will also be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in time of trouble.
My name is Zarko Atanasov and I live in Macedonia. I wrote my testimony, because I want to share the dark period of my life.
It is about my pain, my fears, my sadness ... the hell in my life. If you are in some dark period of your life, having any problem, I want to tell you that there is LIGHT behind that dark door. Please, don't give up. Just wait for better days to come. Stay strong, I beg you in Jesus name.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12
I became a Christian in 1998; this was a miracle for me. My life is a long, long story in which a lot of amazing things happened. I will never forget the day when I got sick. It was February 21st, 1999, when I went to the hospital to check out what I thought was a little problem with my health.
When I was examined, I overheard the doctors debating my physical condition: "It is a tumor . . . or . . . is it cancer?" I was in a SHOCK when I heard this, and at that moment my whole life reversed in my mind's eye. Please, understand that it only takes one terrible thing to change your mental perception of life.
On that day, the life that I lived had died. From then on, I started to live a different life. I have been through many, many tests.
My mind has been very DARK, which is difficult for me to explain.
First the doctors said that it was not a tumor, but something else. But later they said that there was a malignant tumor in my body. Coming to this conclusion was a lengthy procedure. I thought about my life before this all happened. I perceived myself to be strong in faith, but when this horrible sickness struck me I noticed that I was not as strong as I thought I would be.
It was winter, I was home and I awaited for the day of my first surgery. These were very dark days, and that time I read the book of Job and I was encouraged by it. But I was losing my strength as the days went by. The pastors of the church came to visit me and they prayed for me, but I wasn't encouraged, because I saw empty faces staring at me. When I looked into their faces, I lost all hope and the knowledge of God.
I couldn't believe what was happening to me. I couldn't believe that I was that man with the terrible sickness; I was in shock all the time and horror filled my mind. I read from the book of Job ... "What?. . . Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this Job did not sin with his lips." Job 2:10
"He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea in seven there shall no evil touch thee."Job 5:19 One of my friends gave me some verses from the Bible, but I failed in the spirit to grasp it. This was a very difficult time for me, but God gave me the strength.
And then it was time for my first surgery. On Sunday night I went to the hospital, the room was for two people. There was no daylight coming into the room. The surgery was the next morning. I woke up in another room and there was one kid in very bad pain. I tried to help him, but I couldn't even move my fingers. That hospital room had lots of pain within. After the surgery, I was moved back to the first room. I was in very critical condition, with the number of tumor counts in my blood of 15 300, while normal count is 0-7. It seemed hopeless as I saw the doctors' empty faces.
I felt better at first, but all of a sudden a very bad pain hit me in my chest. It was the most terrible pain I have experienced in my life. It felt like an "explosion" in my chest, my body was jumping from the pain. They gave me painkilling shots every 30 minutes, but it didn't help me , I was dying. My father was crying, it was real nightmare, my heart was broken. I cannot explain the excruciating pain in my body and soul. And when I saw my father crying, for the first time since my troubles started, I cried too. My soul was crushed, and I told him to pray. My father told me later that he had suicidal thoughts in those moments.
I was in terrible pain and agony for five days. Friends and family came to visit me and they were very sad. It still upsets me when I write this.
After five days I was transferred to the clinical hospital where cancer patients go to recover. This was a horror clinic, because you were either to live or to die. In that clinic they put me on strong infusions and my pain stopped. Thanks to Jesus!
I stayed for two days in the hospital room alone with my father and I talked to him about God. He was reading the Bible all the time. He was not a Christian then. Before I became ill, I never prayed for my father because I couldn't believe that a man like my father could become a Christian. My brother said that he prayed for my father and God started the process of saving him right in that hospital room.
Then I received chemotherapy, the first day my heart was beating like crazy, I was in a bad condition and in much pain.
That evening many brothers and sisters in Christ came and they prayed much for me. There was one sister who preached the gospel to my family and she visited me every day. When they prayed for me the other patients were amazed and they heard about God. I was laying in bed and my faith was still weak. I was just waiting to hear what the doctors were going to tell me. But I realized that I can't put my trust in people, because they are like myself, with doubts. They are just people .
Every hour I was given some sort of medication. When brothers and sisters came to pray for me, I realized that their love was solace to me. Some sick people in the room received Jesus and did repent from their sins, but others did not. One of them was dying, he was just flesh over bones.
I woke up every morning at 5 o'clock, and every day at that time, there was a woman cleaning the rooms and I wished to be the one who did the cleaning. I was admiring that woman every morning when I saw her in my room. I could see the great difference between her mind and mine. Our lives were two different worlds. I watched people in their homes from my hospital window; I wanted to be home like them, nothing more. But that was far away from me.
Every morning I saw that sick man, who was just bones, brushing his teeth. I wondered about that man because he was dying and still brushing his teeth. What does it matter when you're dying, I thought. I didn't even have hope for myself to brush my teeth. To be in the hospital was terrible, it was hell on earth for me. One morning someone died in another room, someone who was missing some parts of his body; I saw how people were suffering from horrible pain.
One day when my brothers and sisters were praying for me, my father said to them: "If God will spare the life of my son, I will follow Him all my life." And this is exactly what happened.
When I left the hospital my brother said: "This is the day for going home", but I didn't feel free because I knew that this would continue, because I had just one chemotherapy treatment and the treatments were once per month. When I became a little stronger, I got the second chemotherapy treatment. After the treatment I was feeling very bad , I vomited all food , I had nightmares and fears. I felt the tumor moving in my body and I was spitting blood. We were very scared about that blood, and the doctors ordered me back to the hospital . I was in the same room. I received infusions and my blood count went down and they gave me 1,5 kg blood transfusion. I realized that health is the biggest problem in man's life, because if you don't have good health, your soul and spirit will go down.
In those days one of my brothers was preaching the gospel to the sick people, while I was just lying in my bed and watching people repent and surrender to Jesus. Some of them were dying.
I had lost my hair from chemotherapy treatment. One friend and my brother had long hair and they cut their hair just to solace me ... ahah... When I was home those days, I felt the biggest fears in my life, which was from chemotherapy. It tortured my mind every morning when I woke up. I was paranoid, and I fought fear all the time. That was the most terrible thing in the world; I thought that I would go crazy. It is hard to explain where the fear came from. That terrible feeling was horror, and I had nightmares. With the fears I would repeat Job 7:4. In those difficult moments with my fear, I found comfort in the thoughts that when I would die I would be free in heaven with the Lord Jesus. During the fears I would listen to the music band "Saviour Machine -legend 2", and I was singing "and we shall always be with the Lord forever", that was big solace to me.
When the time for the second chemotherapy treatment came, my fears stopped for a while. This was when my father went to church for the first time. When he became a Christian no one knew what happened with the old nature, he became new in Christ Jesus. My father's name is Stefan and he would say to other people that the old Stefan is dead.
Health is the biggest problem, many other problems are of our own making, and some problems are just in our heads. Sick people have the biggest problems and they need Jesus. When you are sick, you can't do anything. Jesus prayed mostly for the sick people. Health is a gift from God , and I wasn't keeping my health before I became sick. For example, when I was 13-14 years old I started smoking cigarettes and I was feeling ashamed if the teachers would see me. How much do we need to feel ashamed before God, who gives us health, when we are destroying it?
I received the second chemotherapy treatment. It was very hard on me, but I received it somehow. We checked the results for the tumor cages (counts) in my blood and they were destroyed from 15 300 counts to 13. Hallelujah!
The first week I didn't have many problems, but the second week the fears came back again with bad pain in my spine. I laid for three days in pain. I got many drugs for that pain, but nothing helped me, and my blood become weak. I felt pain in my bones every day. I was eating much because I was concerned about me becoming weak. For the first time my blood was good till the next chemotherapy treatment.
I received the third chemotherapy treatment, and again in terrible pain and fears. I had some allergic reaction on my skin. I was in depression. I watched how people lived and walked. I looked at myself and thought if I feel better, I am going to walk everywhere.
For the first time my results were good, thanks to God!
But my fears didn't leave me. I was wondering how I could live like that, because I was okay only while I was sleeping.
The fourth chemotherapy was the most terrible to me, the doctors gave to me drugs for sleeping because I couldn't handle the agony. I lost my strength and courage. Some patients ran away, they decided to die because they couldn't handle the hell of these treatments. God gave me strength to get through it.
In those days, I felt bad pain in my bones at times. I did learn to appreciate the days that I was out of pain and I realized that the most important thing is one's health. I had gained some material things, which I loved before I became ill, but at that moment they meant nothing to me. Health was all I needed. I realized that the material things don't need to obsess us, because we may die any moment and nothing will keep its value, but only our spiritual condition.
Since all has been said, let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.
For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
When I had fears during those hard times, I realized that hell is when we don't have strong faith, and when the love or peace of God is lacking. If God would ever leave us, that would be the most terrible thing for us. When I looked at people who were without God, I saw them from God's point of view. They were alone in their lives, without Christ and no peace of God in their hearts. This is a really sad , sad picture.
After the fourth treatment I had a four week break, because I was nearly destroyed.
During the fifth chemotherapy, I was in the same room and I learned that the man who brushed his teeth every morning, had died.
The fifth chemotherapy was ugly, and I was given very strong medication for sleeping. I was drugged up and was sleeping for one week, after which I was in excruciating pain. The doctors did tests of my chest and the tumor was there, they thought that it was something else and decided to do surgery. That was bad, but for me it was better than chemotherapy.
The surgery was one more hell for me, a period with a lot of pain and agony. The tumor in my chest was almost 1 kg. I called it the beast in my chest. I was mad because of that tumor; I thought if that is some living thing, I will kill it with my own hands. The good thing was that the tumor was not attached to my lungs, thanks to God. If that would have been the case, the doctors would have to cut into my lungs. God had opened doors in the clinic for the best doctors to be present.
The worst thing was that they told me, that I had to have two more chemotherapy treatments. This brought me in deep depression, fear and anger. I had very bad experiences in my body and soul in the days after. On top of this all, I was informed that the young man who was in the hospital room with me, had died. I was very sad in all that pain and the very worse fell upon me like hell itself. Almost all patients in that room died.
I got those two chemo treatments, which was again and again hell for me. I experienced this as if someone put demons into my veins. The doctors had to stop in the middle of the treatment, because I had terrible pain and if they would have continued, bad things could have happened to me. So they stopped.
I got back home, only with pains and depressions. I thought, what about me living all the time with the same thing, like "MADNESS". After a few weeks I felt pain in my left hip and it seemed as if I was addicted to pain itself. Then I felt pain in my right hip too. That was a new pain. It was a destruction of my hips caused by the chemo treatments. I was angry with one doctor and I told him not to give me the second chemotherapy. But he said that I must take it. If I wouldn't get that last chemotherapy I would be good with my hips. That was a difficult period and everything that I loved was to stay in the house of God throughout my days and in the peace of God. So that I love nothing else but Him.
In those days, I saw who were really my friends. My ex girlfriend Mishela was with me and I'm thankful to her. I observed that through all bad things which God allows, something good will come from it, be it in this life or some benefit for our eternal life. With all the things happening in our lives, I came to understand that every plan we make in our minds will come to pass if God allows it. Even if I make plans, it may disappear in one moment. I realized that man will die one day and that he needs to be ready to leave everything of this world behind. I realized that the problem with most people is that they don't believe in death. We, as human beings, believe that death is far away from this moment of our lives. This is the blindness of all mankind.
Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.
Selah. Surely every man walketh in a vain show: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them. And now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in Thee.
In 2001 my sorrows ended, THANKS TO THE LORD. I am totally healed from that ugly sickness. I was just bones, but I have since gained 30 kg. I am alive and I can write this. Once I was dying, but now I am alive. I have still problems with my hips but I don't know what God wants with that, maybe I am in some situation like Paul. But in that dark period of my life, my father became a Christian and the patients who died in my room have all repented from their sins and they received salvation, which is most important. People that I have met in the hospital have been saved. Praise God!
The reality is, that one day you and I will be in God's hands. We may face a lot of problems in this world. But if the whole world crashes down and my life is full with problems, I know that God is there and that He always has a plan for us. One day we will be free from all problems of this world.
If you face difficulties at this time, stay strong until the end, don't give up, for God will do the best for you. Look at this crazy world of sin , watch the news on TV, news of the new sins of this world , people kill, people hate, people are without shame, everything is done for money and man's glory, sick minds, sick religion, sick perversity, worldly modern Christianity etc.
NOTHING, NOTHING from this world of sin is pleasing God. Throw away this world. Just read the clean Word of our Lord Jesus and you will see that it makes the difference in this crazy world. Keep the way of Jesus; keep the simple faith, hope and LOVE. We will all die one day. Don't look for help from people, put your trust in God, because people are not perfect.
Keep your life free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. 1 Timothy 6:10
If you are in problems, always remember that there is light behind the dark period of your life. God is always there and He has always a plan.
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5
I pray that the Lord will reveal the LESSON to your heart.
Blessings to you in Jesus name.
Your Brother Zarko.
For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Hebrews 10:37