Jul 20

Really Ticked Off

 

If you had asked me after my diagnosis whether I was angry about my situation–stage 3 cancer at age 36 with three young daughters and a husband who already had buried his first wife--I would have responded that I was not. After all, it’s not really proper for a Baptist minister’s wife to get angry, is it?

Well, let me share a couple of the things I thought and felt those first few days after my diagnosis and you tell me what you think my state of mind might have been.

When I was in the hospital after my cancer surgery, a friend came into my room and told me God was going to teach me great things through this trial. I wanted to take the IV out of my arm, stab it in hers, and tell her, “You get in the bed and learn great things from God, because I ­don’t want to learn this way.”

Of course, I didn’t actually say that to her. Instead I just smiled and hoped she would leave very soon.

A couple of days later I was waiting for the pathology report to see if my cancer had been caught early and cured, or whether it was advanced and I would need chemotherapy and perhaps radiation. Lying in that bed, I had lots of time to talk with God.

“You are making a ­really big mistake here,” I fumed. “There’s absolutely nothing You can ever do to make up for this because it is too awful. And ­don’t think You are going to pull me through this somehow and ­I’m going to go and minister to cancer patients, because I won’t do it!”

Perhaps a wee bit of anger there?

When I look back on those early days after my diagnosis, I am incredulous at some of the things I thought and felt. But I was in such a state of shock and disbelief myself that I really was struggling to cope. At one point I was so distraught, that I told my husband “I guess God really doesn’t love me.”

I don’t remember saying it and find it hard to believe I was actually that despondent, but I know my husband isn’t making things up.

So as I look back on those dark days after diagnosis, I realize I experienced a bevy of emotions: shock, disbelief, denial, disappointment, frustration, sadness, worry and yes, anger.

I didn’t have anyone at the time who I felt comfortable “burdening” with my anger, so I just kept taking it to God. The Bible says He can read our minds (Psalm 139:1-4) so I figured I might as well just say all the awful things I was thinking and feeling because He knew them anyway.

Maybe you’re not as angry as I was; perhaps you’re only just a little ticked. Then again, maybe “rage” better describes what you’re feeling today.

Where can you go to dump it?

I suggest you run where all of us with great suffering need to run: to the only One whose shoulders are broad enough, whose arms are strong enough and whose love is deep enough.

“It’s all right—questions, pain, and stabbing anger can be poured out to the Infinite One and He will not be damaged…
For we beat on His chest from within the circle of His arms,” writes Anne Cetas, an author for the daily devotional, Our Daily Bread.

Can you visualize that for yourself? You crying out to God, beating your clenched fists upon His chest and Him holding you in His loving arms.

            I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Psalm 69:3

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God,
but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief. Psalm 22:1-2

And then after you’ve hurled your questions heavenward, don’t forget to go to God’s Word to find His response. A good place to start might be the promise He gave to Jeremiah, who was filled with so much grief he has been called “the weeping prophet:”

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt…”
God speaking in Jeremiah 31:3, 4 NIV

 

I believe God is the best place to turn to with your suffering. He’ll either give you the answers you seek or the peace you need to live with the questions.

My reporter-friend Cubby fought against a range of emotions accompanied by many tears when she battled breast cancer. But she says she always found hope “when I could visualize Jesus sitting next to me or holding me safely nestled in His lap.”

It was in those moments that the peace came to live with the unanswered questions.

Perhaps you would like to pray today with the Psalmist: O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety for you are my safe refuge. Amen. (Psalm 61:1-3)

Jul 13

When you do everything right and it still goes all wrong…

 

 

Monday morning started out great–in fact it started out perfect. My husband was fly-fishing for the day, so I wouldn’t feel as if I was ignoring him when I spent the day concentrating on my lengthy to-do list. I had plenty to get accomplished, but I wanted to make sure I started the day right.

So I headed to our flower-laden deck for a delicious breakfast of Greek yogurt, fresh berries and sliced almonds. I lingered over my cup of English breakfast tea as I read, not one, but two devotionals! As I enjoyed the colorful songbirds convening at the feeders, I prayed for each member of my family, for friends facing cancer and for others who need to know the love of Jesus. I thought to myself: It doesn’t get much better than this.

But the morning was not over.

I readied myself for a day of running shopping errands, foregoing fashion in favor of my most-reliable sandals.  As I dressed, I smiled when my shorts were too loose instead of too tight as they had been last summer. (Whenever the right size clothes fit on a six-decade-old-body, it’s a good day, right?)

I gathered all my shopping needs: reusable bags, shopping list, coupons, insulated cooler bag with a freezer pack, light sweatshirt for cold stores, circulars with store specials, and a grocery bag full of plastic bags to be recycled at Giant because our curbside recycling company doesn’t accept them. I had a plan for the most efficient way to make my four stops, so I headed into the car. I popped in an old CD and began singing along with the familiar praise songs. At one point,  tears filled my eyes as I sang about the Savior I love so much. It felt well with my soul.

It was a good morning…but it wasn’t over yet.

I parked at the Aldi grocery store and offered a woman the customary quarter for the shopping cart she was returning (FYI–you have to “rent” an Aldi cart until you return it). But the woman insisted I take her cart for free. I quickly found everything on my list. I gathered some really good bargains. The usually crowded store had no line at the checkout.  The clerk was especially friendly. A feeling of gratefulness for so many “small” things filled my heart and I whispered a prayer of gratitude to God, the giver of all good gifts.

It was a great morning…but it wasn’t over yet.

I took my groceries to my car, carefully loading the perishables into the insulated cooler. As I was getting everything settled, the plastic bag stuffed with other plastic bags blew out of my hatchback. I quickly turned to grab the flyaway bags, but another gust of wind whipped them out of my reach. Now all five bags were loose and blowing across the parking lot. I certainly didn’t want to be a litterbug, so I hurried toward them, lunging at the billowing blobs. But they escaped again. I ran to catch up with them.

That is until one of the straps on my most-reliable sandals broke. causing my ankle to turn awkwardly and me to stumble to the pavement. I hit my knee, wrenched my shoulder (which has only recently healed from a serious injury last year) and felt my low back spasm with pain. Oh, but I caught those five errant bags.

I headed back to my car and finished loading the groceries when I realized my not-nearly-completed shopping list  was no longer where I had put it as the chase began. Did I mention that on one side was my list for the other three stores and on the back was my to-do list for the entire week?

I searched everything in the back of the car without success. I began looking around the lot, crouching to peer under neighboring cars. Not easy to do with a broken sandal and shooting pains. I checked out every piece of trash which looked like white paper–and there was plenty of it–but my list was not to be seen. I finally gave up, eased my throbbing shoulder and aching back into the driver’s seat, and tried to recall all those now-missing, wonderful plans.

I did everything right and it still turned out all wrong.

Ever have a day like this? Or a week? Or maybe even what feels like a lifetime of things going wrong? Those of us who are planners get especially frustrated when life goes awry despite our organizing skills. I’m almost 63 years old and I still have the illusion that I can control life with proper planning.

But I can’t…and neither can you. Stuff happens. The wind blows at the wrong time. Old reliable lets you down without warning. You lose things you can’t get back.

And cancer comes–at the wrong time, without warning and it takes precious things away.

My Monday morning, although frustrating, disappointing and downright painful, was nothing compared to the real trials of life. I know that.  But the “small” things, as well as the “big” ones can steal our joy and destroy our peace. When I returned home a few hours later that day, my heart did not feel as light as it did when I left, my mind was not nearly as eternally focused and I had long stopped singing along to my CD.

Until I pulled into the driveway and heard Kim Hill’s voice:

Thank you, Lord, for that wonderful reminder that in You alone my heart has found a resting place. May I always find my security in You. Only in you Alone.

 

P.S. If you see any plastic garbage bags littering parking lots, they might be mine. I have sworn off ever chasing another one!

 

Jul 06

The Fear Factor

 

 

Sometimes things move very quickly once you get a cancer diagnosis. I guess that’s good because you don’t have much time to think about it, but it also makes life feel a little like a surreal out-of-body experience: Can that really be me everyone is talking about?

My cancer was discovered on a Tuesday and in less than a week I saw the surgeon, had blood taken, got a chest X-ray, “cleaned out” my colon (again!) and had the tumor removed.

Three days later, at 7 a.m., the surgeon and his resident delivered the pathology report as I lay alone in my room. I could tell from their body language that the news ­wasn’t good. They stood against the wall at the end of my hospital bed, as far away from me as they could get and still be in the same room.

“Cancer was found in five of twenty lymph nodes,” the surgeon explained matter-of-factly. “You will need chemotherapy and radiation.”

I cried, but no one moved to comfort me.

“Have you ­ever known anyone who ­under­went chemotherapy?” he asked, seeming to grasp for words to continue the conversation.

I nodded, recalling the two people I had known most recently—both of whom had died! I started hyperventilating.

Still, neither doctor moved toward me, but instead the surgeon called a nurse to help me breathe into a paper bag. How I wished the doctor had at least held my hand for a moment or just patted my shoulder and told me that this was not an automatic death sentence.

“Do you want me to call your husband?” the doctor asked, still at the foot of my bed. I nodded between sobbing gasps into my little brown bag.

Now I was ­really frightened. I desperately needed Ralph. But, for whatever reason, the surgeon did not call him. So for three hours I lay in the room thinking about what it was going to be like to have chemotherapy pour through my veins. I had a little conversation with myself as I tried to control my weeping.

Get a grip on yourself, my head told my heart. What are you so afraid of? Nausea and vomiting? You were sick night and day for six months with all three of your pregnancies. Mouth sores? You’ve had them before. Needles? You’re not afraid of them. Losing your hair? It’ll grow

back. Don’t be so vain, my head stated matter-of-factly. But my heart ­didn’t buy it. I just cried harder as I stroked the waist-length hair that I desperately wanted to keep.

Yes, that’s what ­I’m afraid of, I admitted. I ­don’t want to look sick for my children and my husband. I ­can’t imagine watching my hair fall out. I disliked the vanity of my feelings, but it was how I felt.

I finally called Ralph at 10 A.M. I was shaking so badly my voice was barely audible, and he kept asking me to repeat ­every­thing.

“It’s bad,” I told him. “I need you right away.”

I ­couldn’t even get my lips to form the word chemotherapy. The fear of facing that, for me, was worse than the initial shock of cancer.

Ralph arrived shortly. At about noon the surgeon strolled in and said he had just tried to call my husband but there was no answer. “By the way,” he added, “did I mention that you won’t lose your hair with the chemo?”

I ­didn’t know whether to smack him or hug him.

 

My surgeon obviously did a good job operating on me as I’m still alive and well, but his bedside manner wouldn’t have earned such a high grade. It was impersonal and not to call my husband for almost five hours was rather unprofessional. I don’t think I should have gotten that bad news all by myself or been left alone for all that time afterward.

But…God used that doctor’s “mistake” to draw me closer to Himself and help me to face my deepest fears. As I named my fears, they did not disappear, but they lost some of their power over me and I began to find the courage to face them.

 

It definitely takes courage to face cancer, but courage is not living without fear—it’s living in spite of fear.

 

I love the late psychiatrist M. Scott Peck’s thoughts on the subject: “The absence of fear is not courage; the absence of fear is some kind of brain damage. Courage is the capacity to go on in spite of the fear, or in spite of the pain.”[1]

God will give you the courage you need to face your fears and to live with the uncertainties cancer brings.

 

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. Jesus speaking in John 16:33 NASB

 

I hope Psalm 27:1, 3 can be your prayer today: The LORD is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid?…Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident. Amen (Copyright 2012 by Lynn Eib, 50 Days of Hope)

[1] M. Scott Peck, Further Along the Road Less Traveled (New York: Touchstone, 1993), pg. 23.

Jun 29

Knowing the ABCs of Trials

So if God can work all things together for good, does that mean in our lifetime we will see that promise come true?

Maybe, maybe not.

I consider myself extremely fortunate that God has allowed me to see firsthand how He has used my cancer diagnosis for good by giving me a worldwide ministry to cancer patients and their caregivers. However, I’m very aware that many others still are waiting to see that promise come true in their lives.

It’s one thing to know that someday—eventually—God will bring good from your bad situation; it’s another thing to have to live in that situation day-by-day. In those early, confusing post-diagnosis days, I had to come to terms with the fact I didn’t have the whole picture of what God was doing in and through my life.

Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely just as God knows me. 1 Corinthians 13:12

 

Our view from inside a cancer-storm is limited and distorted. We often cannot see how what is happening could ever possibly be used as part of God’s good plan for our lives. We don’t have the big picture.

But accepting that we don’t have the whole picture is not very comforting unless we also realize that the One who does loves us greatly.

Some years ago our youngest daughter, Lindsey, who had just graduated from college (and as the daughter most like me, butted heads with me the most as a teenager), wrote me a Mother’s Day note that said in part: “I didn’t always agree or understand when you said ‘no’ to me, but I never doubted that you loved me.”

That’s what it means to trust. We choose never to doubt that God loves us even if we don’t always agree or understand when He answers no to our prayers.

However, just knowing these two truths—that we don’t have the whole picture and a loving God does—is not enough. We have to continue to walk by faith and not by sight. I’ll be the first to admit that is not an easy task. Even if we’re not from Missouri, we humans tend to be “show me” people. We want to see first and then believe. I am an extremely skeptical person (which makes me a great newspaper reporter but an annoying wife), and I always want the facts, the explanation, and the logic before I’ll agree with just about anything.

But the Word of God, my compass in life and especially in the storms, tells me that as believers we are different than others in this world because “we live by faith, not by sight.”[1] Or as another translation puts it, “That is why we live by believing and not by seeing.[2]

I must constantly remind myself that I don’t need to see it all because God sees it all from the beginning of history to the end of time. As one writer explains: “Because we see only this sliver of time, we tend to view all of time through the same narrow and ill-fitting glasses. We forget that God is not bound by time. He exists outside of its minutes and millennia.”[3]

He and only He has the big picture. We move ahead not knowing for sure how it all will work out, but believing He does and will guide our way. I don’t know how to say it any other way than we simply walk by faith.

 

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1NIV

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Hebrews 12:2

With our eyes on Jesus, we can continue to walk by faith and not by sight. God’s Word promises that He is able even if we are not. We don’t have to pull ourselves up; His strength will hold us up. We don’t have to just put on a happy face; His peace will fill us up.

The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. Psalm 29:11

 

Remember the ABCs of trials: Accept you don’t have the whole picture; Believe a loving God does; and Continue on by faith and not by sight.

 

Lord, Help me to keep my eyes on You and not on the storm around me. Increase my faith so that I can walk boldly in it as I trust You for each day. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. Copyright 2012  by Lynn Eib, 50 Days of Hope

[1] 2 Corinthians 5:7, niv

[2] 2 Corinthians 5:7, nlt

[3] Taken from a devotional published by the Outreach of Hope “God Keeps his Promises,” 2001.

Jun 22

Everything Happens for a Reason

 

Everything happens for a reason.

 Has anyone said that to you since your or your loved one’s diagnosis? I’m wondering how it made you feel? I have to be honest and say that phrase usually annoys me. So if it’s your favorite phrase in life and you love to say it or have people say it to you often, you might want to skip this blog.

Well, because you’re still reading I have to believe it’s for a reason :-)  and I’m praying God uses these words give you hope today as we wonder together what’s the “reason” for cancer.

 

I’m not sure who should get the original credit for that phrase: “Everything happens for a reason.” I’ve seen it attributed to Marilyn Monroe and Oprah Winfrey and I’m sure many other famous and not-so-famous people have spoken it often. I remember using it myself when I was a new Christ-follower back in college (at THE Ohio State University) and someone (probably a visitor from that Team Up North!) stole my wallet right out of my purse in the checkout line at the campus bookstore. I was terribly distraught and remarked to my friend Vince: “I know everything happens for a reason, but I can’t figure out what God is trying to teach me through this.”

I’ll always remember Vince’s reply: “I’ll tell you the reason this happened—someone sinned and stole your wallet!”

I liked that explanation. I quit agonizing over some spiritual lesson God was trying to teach me. Oh, I definitely learned things from the incident—like closing up my purse faster and trusting God for the money I’d lost—but I stopped imagining that every single thing that happened to me throughout the day was orchestrated by God for a divine reason that I had to figure out.

The phrase “everything happens for a reason” probably has multiple meanings to the many folks who utter it. But the word “reason” by definition means there is an explanation, a justification or rational grounds for what’s occurring. What’s implied is there is a good reason behind every single thing that occurs. I’m just not sure that fits life here on earth.

 

What’s the explanation for babies with cancer?

            What’s the justification for a married couple both having cancer at the same time?

            What’s the rational grounds for a young parent dying of cancer?

 

Scientists will tell you that the DNA mutations which cause cancer are influenced by many factors including genetics, environment and lifestyle.

If you can discover the physical “reason(s)” you or your loved one got cancer, that knowledge may help you make choices which reduce the chance the cancer will come back or help family members prevent having to face the disease themselves. Personally, I had absolutely no known risk factors for getting colorectal cancer, so couldn’t really make any lifestyle changes. I did have genetic testing for Lynch Syndrome, which detects inherited mutations for colorectal cancer, but I did not have any of the known variations.

I honestly never figured out the “reason” I got cancer, but whatever it was, I knew that “reason” did not have the final say in my life.

Remember Joseph, the young man in the Old Testament with the “coat of many colors?” His jealous brothers sold him into slavery, but he became a powerful person in Pharaoh’s court and eventually saved their lives. When his brothers finally asked for forgiveness for their evil actions, Joseph replied: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”

 

I don’t know why this ugly disease of cancer has “intended” to harm you, but I do know God can “intend” it for good.

 

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

 

Please notice this is a conditional promise. The working-together-for-good only happens to people who “love God” and are “called according to his purpose.”

The very next verse explains what that means. It says God “chose them to become like his Son.” That’s our purpose in life: to become more like Jesus. Then and only then can we be assured that everything that happens to us—even cancer—will be used by God for good.

Whatever the “reason” cancer has intruded your life, here is my prayer for you today from Philippians 1:9-11— I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character of Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God. Amen

P.S. Thanks for reading this today—I do believe it happened for a good reason! (Copyright 2102 by Lynn Eib, 50 Days of Hope)

Jun 15

HEALING WORDS

So do retired people go on vacation or is EVERYDAY a vacation day? I think the answer must be BOTH because I’m at the beach relaxing and being refreshed body, mind and spirit. (Sounds like a vacation to me!)

While I’m away, here are some of my favorite “healing” verses (all from the New Living Translation of the Bible). I pray that neither of us ever takes a vacation from reading God’s Word and allowing His Spirit to touch us and meet our deepest needs.

Psalm 6:2

Have compassion on me, LORD, for I am weak.

Heal me, LORD, for my body is in agony.

 

Psalm 30:2

O LORD my God, I cried out to you for help,

and you restored my health.

 

Psalm 41:4

“O LORD,” I prayed, “have mercy on me.

Heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

 

Psalm 103:2-3

Praise the LORD, I tell myself,

and never forget the good things he does for me.

He forgives all my sins

and heals all my diseases.

 

Psalm 107:19-20

“LORD, help!” they cried in their trouble,

and he saved them from their distress.

 

He spoke, and they were healed—

snatched from the door of death.

 

Proverbs 3:7-8

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn your back on evil.

Then you will gain renewed health and vitality.

 

Proverbs 4:20-22

Pay attention, my child, to what I say. Listen carefully.

Don’t lose sight of my words. Let them penetrate deep within your heart,

for they bring life and radiant health to anyone who discovers their meaning.

 

Proverbs 15:30

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health.

 

Matthew 4:24

News about him spread far beyond the borders of Galilee so that the sick were soon coming to be healed from as far away as Syria. And whatever their illness and pain, or if they were possessed by demons, or were epileptics, or were paralyzed—he healed them all.

 

Matthew 8:16-17

That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. All the spirits fled when he commanded them to leave; and he healed all the sick. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through Isaiah, who said, “He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.”

 

Matthew 9:35

Jesus traveled through all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And wherever he went, he healed people of every sort of disease and illness.

 

Matthew 10:1

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness.

 

Matthew 10:7-8

Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!

 

Matthew 14:14

A vast crowd was there as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

 

Matthew 15:30-31

A vast crowd brought him the lame, blind, crippled, mute, and many others with physical difficulties, and they laid them before Jesus. And he healed them all. The crowd was amazed! Those who hadn’t been able to speak were talking, the crippled were made well, the lame were walking around, and those who had been blind could see again! And they praised the God of Israel.

 

Matthew 19:2

Vast crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick.

 

Mark 10:52

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your faith has healed you.” And instantly the blind man could see! Then he followed Jesus down the road.

 

Luke 9:1-2, 6

One day Jesus called together his twelve apostles and gave them power and authority to cast out demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the coming of the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.

 

Acts 10:38

And no doubt you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with him.

 

James 5:14-16

Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

 

1 Peter 2:24

He personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. You have been healed by his wounds!

Jun 08

Going to the Party by Randy Alcorn

Imagine someone takes you to a party. You see a few friends there, enjoy a couple of good conversations, a little laughter, and some decent appetizers. The party’s all right, but you keep hoping it will get better. Give it another hour, and maybe it will. Suddenly, your friend says, “I need to take you home.”

Now?

You’re disappointed. Nobody wants to leave a party early—but you leave, and your friend drops you off at your house. As you approach the door, you’re feeling all alone and sorry for yourself. As you open the door and reach for the light switch, you sense someone’s there. Your heart’s in your throat. You flip on the light.

“Surprise!” Your house is full of smiling people, familiar faces.

It’s a party—for you. You smell your favorites—barbecued ribs and pecan pie right out of the oven. The tables are full. It’s a feast. You recognize the guests, people you haven’t seen for a long time. Then, one by one, the people you most enjoyed at the other party show up at your house, grinning. This turns out to be the real party. You realize that if you’d stayed longer at the other party, as you’d wanted, you wouldn’t be at the real party—you’d be away from it.

Christians faced with terminal illness or imminent death often feel they’re leaving the party before it’s over. They have to go home early. They’re disappointed, thinking of all they’ll miss when they leave. But the truth is, the real party is underway at home—precisely where they’re going. They’re not the ones missing the party; those of us left behind are. (Fortunately, if we know Jesus, we’ll get there eventually.)

One by one, occasionally a few of us at a time, we’ll disappear from this world. Those we leave behind will grieve that their loved ones have left home. In reality, however, their believing loved ones aren’t leaving home, they’re going home. They’ll be home before us. We’ll be arriving at the party a little later. [1]

[1] Randy Alcorn, Heaven, (Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers), 2004, 441-442.

Jun 01

Becoming the “Ideal Patient”

Are you or your loved one an ideal patient?

I’m not asking whether you do everything the doctors tell you to do. I’m not referring to whether your disease is easily treatable. And I’m not talking about whether you have the right personality.

What I do mean is this: Do you have the right blend of realism and faith as you live wondering when and if your or your loved one’s disease will be cured?

If you haven’t already reached “ideal” status, I pray I can inspire you to achieve it, and if you’re already there, I pray I can encourage you that it’s definitely the best place to stay.

I think that an ideal patient is one who believes firmly in the power of prayer and has no doubt that God can answer with a miracle. Such a patient prays for complete physical healing, absolutely believing that God can do it and feverishly praying that He will do it. But this ideal patient also recognizes that God is sovereign—He is absolute, unlimited, independent, and has supreme authority over us and everything else in the world.

Such an ideal patient understands that when we give our lives to Jesus, we give up our rights and give Him the right to do whatever pleases Him with our lives. When we’re “ideal,” we pray and believe for a physical miracle, but never demand it as the only answer to our prayers.

Some people might say that our faith is decreased if we don’t absolutely “expect” a miracle, but I think it takes even more faith to continue to trust God, stand on His promises and cling to hope when we aren’t healed.

It is not a lack of faith to accept whatever God’s will is for us. It’s a true sign of faith to trust Him no matter what happens—or doesn’t happen—in this lifetime. I pray you will be an ideal patient: trusting God as you pray for His physical healing touch to come and trusting Him still if it doesn’t.

 

To believe in someone

is to have faith

In God’s ability as the Potter

And in that person’s willingness

to be the clay.

I believe in you.

May 25

Peace in the Face of Cancer

 

I’ve just received word from Tyndale House that my manuscript for my new book Peace in the Face of Cancer has been “enthusiastically accepted!” This book has been rolling around in my head for at least a couple of years and I just couldn’t really relax in retirement until I got it out.

For a long time I’ve been wanting to write a book that would be especially for those facing cancer that is not expected to be cured. You know the descriptions. Treatable, but not curable. Chronic cancer.  Always in treatment. Cancer for the long haul. 

This new book–coming out next March–even includes three bonus chapters at the end just for such folks: Why doesn’t God heal? How to dance with cancer instead of  just battling it. And how to live AND die well for Jesus.

And the really good news is that Peace in the Face of Cancer actually is written to speak to the needs of ALL survivors and their caregivers no matter where they are on their cancer journey–newly diagnosed, in treatment, living in cancer’s shadow, dealing with a recurrence or trying to buy more time.

Not sure if you’re a survivor yet?

 

The National Cancer Institute says we become  survivor “from the time of diagnosis until the end of life.” So survivors include folks who have just found out they have cancer, people who used to have cancer, and those who can expect always to have it. Pretty sure that means everybody who has ever heard those three dreaded words: You have cancer.

As I write, there are an estimated 14.5 million people in the U.S. with a history of cancer and about the same number of new diagnoses is expected worldwide this year. That’s an incredible total of survivors, but I wonder how many meet only the first dictionary definition of survive: to remain alive or in existence? And how many also portray the second meaning: to continue to function or prosper?

Between my former job, my cancer prayer support groups and my speaking-travels, I literally have held the hands of thousands of people facing this disease. I count it a real privilege to walk with hurting people, whether the ones with the medical chart or the ones standing nervously by.  But despite my huge number of cancer-acquaintances (including about 90-percent of my Facebook friends!), I never would presume I know exactly what you or your loved ones are going through. Each patient and caregiver journey is unique, but chances are good that you and I have shared some of the same feelings over the years. And chances are very good that I know someone who has been in a very similar medical situation to yours.  And I think it’s especially feasible that you, like me, at times have trouble finding peace in the face of cancer.

  It’s definitely difficult to feel peace…but it is possible.

I know it’s possible because I have been there, done that, and because I’ve known scores of others who are finding peace even though they thought they couldn’t. In the pages of Peace in the Face of Cancer,  I’ll share true, hope-filled stories to encourage you that a survivor also can be a “thriver!”

If I come to your mind, please PRAY for this book as it goes through the editing and design process and that God would use it to bring PEACE in the face of cancer to those who need to hear that message.

“Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”—Luke 1:78-79 NLT

May 18

Losing Your Faith?

 

Have the trials of life caused you to lose your faith in God? Or are the doubts starting to pile up and you’re wondering if you’re on the verge of turning your back on Him?

Oh, you still believe God exists, but you don’t feel like you can or want to trust Him anymore. The difficulties of life and especially serious health concerns can lead to a spiritual crisis in many lives.

“Doubt rises up to obscure His presence and disillusionment settles into despair,” writes Dr. James Dobson in When God Doesn’t Make Sense. “The greatest frustration is knowing that He created the entire universe by simply speaking it into existence, and He has all the power and all understanding. He could rescue. He could heal. He could save. But why won’t He do it?” [1]

Feeling abandoned by God is especially terrible to experience after you earlier felt a closeness with Him.

“Satan then drops by for a little visit and whispers ‘He is not there! You are alone!’” Dr. Dobson adds.[2]

I can’t begin to explain to you why yet another family member is sick or why your child has cancer or why you’ve received such a dismal diagnosis. I agree with you that it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t seem right, and it certainly doesn’t feel like God cares.

But I also believe that despite life’s tough situations, we all are deeply loved by our Heavenly Father. I believe He proved that once and for all 2,000 years ago when He sent His one and only, perfectly sinless Son to die on the cross for your sins and for mine. I believe that even if God never answered another single prayer on our behalf, He already has done enough because when He raised Jesus to life, He defeated our greatest enemy: Death.

So go ahead and ask Him all your questions. As the praise chorus says: “Give Him all your tears and sorrow. Give Him all your years of pain.”

But remember, God is not required to defend His actions (or seeming inactions) to you and you may never know in this lifetime the reasons for the suffering which has touched your life.

He asks only one thing of you—to trust Him even when it doesn’t make sense.

 

[1] James Dobson, When God Doesn’t Make Sense (Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers), 1993,

[2] Ibid.

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