By Mark Ellis
Messianic Jewish believer Bobbie Barsky likes to identify herself as a completed Jew. When she went through a horrific health battle with metastasizing cancer, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob gave her assurance every step of the way.
“God made the difference!” Barsky exclaims three times to emphasize her gratitude. Barsky and her husband, Rabbi Dr. David Barsky, oversee Congregation Beth Hillel in Coral Springs, Florida, a messianic synagogue.
Long before her cancer diagnosis she received a vision that helped prepare her for what was coming. “It wasn’t my imagination, because I couldn’t turn off what I was seeing,” she notes in her book, “The Silver Lining” (Gazelle Press). In the vision, she sat in a hospital bed but appeared healthy – as if a crisis had passed – and many people were lined up to see her.
After the vision she shared her concern with husband David. “Something is going to happen,” she told him.
“We have to pray against it,” he said.
When the crisis hit, none of her symptoms conveyed anything serious. But a stubborn case of bronchitis didn’t respond to antibiotics, so her doctor ordered a chest x-ray. “I was never sick a day in my life,” Barsky says. She wasn’t concerned.
He called a few days later to deliver the stunning news: she had a large mass in her right lung. Later it was identified as adenocarcinoma, one of the deadliest and most aggressive forms of lung cancer. Over 90 % of sufferers die within eight months.
“I thought he made a horrible goof,” Barsky says.
God doesn’t have to get my attention, she thought, because I’m already serving Him. I’m leading all these people to the Lord. What are you doing, God?
Barsky confesses she was angry with God for several weeks, then a Matt Redman song, “He Never Lets Go,” ministered a spiritual breakthrough in her soul.
Surgeons wanted to remove one-third of her lung, but the surgery was cancelled when it was discovered the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. Her doctor warned her the cancer was so aggressive it might also spread to her brain, so he ordered a brain scan.
Four days later, he called with an urgent tone in his voice. Bobbie and David must come to his office right away. “I have some bad news,” he told them after they arrived. “You have a large metastatic brain tumor.”
David began to quietly sob, as both wondered whether they should plan for brain surgery or a funeral. But then something unusual happened in the doctor’s office.
“The Holy Spirit moved in like the fourth man in the fire,” she recalls, referring to the story of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. “He was in the room and I felt His arms around me and this peace flooded me from my head to my toes. It swam all over me.”
In the midst of devastating news, she was suddenly and inexplicably smiling from ear to ear. Barsky had felt God’s love like this only two other times in her life. She exchanged a knowing glance with her husband and nodded at him. He instantly knew she had heard from God.
“I’m going to be fine,” she told a surprised Dr. David Khan. “I’m going to live and not die and proclaim the works of the Lord,” she said with assurance.
Dr. Khan looked down at his papers, not sure how to respond.
Even though Barsky was certain of God’s presence in the depths of her struggle, she also had faith that God would work through her doctors. Five days later, she had brain surgery.
“I had no fear going into the surgery,” she recalls. “I was laughing and kibitzing with the nurses.” Most of her congregation were in the waiting room praying for her, another powerful reminder of God’s love.
Barsky also endured chemotherapy and radiation treatments. “The worst part was the radiation,” she notes. “It was horrendous.”
She had the last of 35 radiation treatments in July, 2011. Eight weeks later, Barsky’s radiation oncologist, Dr. Ana Botero, scheduled a nuclear pet scan to view the results of the treatment.
Dr. Botero shared the remarkable news in a phone call: her lung tumor was completely gone. When the two met face-to-face, Dr. Botero choked up and her eyes filled with tears.
“I didn’t do this,” Dr. Botero said, with emotion in her voice. “He did. If I could do this for all my patients, I would, but He did this,” referring to God.
Dr. Botero led Barsky down the hall to meet the two techs who had given her the radiation treatments. “It’s Bobbie! It’s Bobbie!” she exclaimed. “She’s cancer free!”
Barsky believes God brought a miracle, but he also used the doctors. “If I didn’t go to doctors I would be dead,” she insists. “But I know I’m healed and God healed me. I didn’t get instantly healed. I had to go through the horror (of radiation).
“The difference is God,” she says. “God orchestrated everything. God still heals.”