Jun 19

Are You Slamming the Door in God’s Face?

Over the years this quote from author Norman Cousins became a sort of rallying cry for my cancer support group members who were facing especially difficult circumstances. These are the kind of folks who realize shock and disbelief—although understandable reactions to a diagnosis—can’t really do anything to change the situation. So they decide to take the bull by the horns and refuse to give in to any statistics on a piece of paper or doomsday predictions from a doctor’s lips.

So just in case you or your loved one has been given some not-so-great cure odds or perhaps even no odds for a cure, I encourage you to quit fighting against the diagnosis and instead try and fight the verdict. Even if you or your loved one has great survival odds or your trial is something other than cancer, I think you’ll be blessed by today’s story of a patient defying the odds.

My German-born friend Jutta (pronounced YOU-tuh) was diagnosed with Stage 3 pancreatic cancer at the age of 38. It’s an understatement to say that cancer of the pancreas is not a “good” kind of cancer and it’s especially scary when your children are only 6 and 10. But that was the situation in which Jutta found herself in July 2003.

She felt fine and hadn’t even considered that the jaundice she was experiencing might mean she was seriously ill. The day after exploratory surgery discovered a malignant pancreatic tumor already spread to the lymph nodes, Jutta’s surgeon came into her hospital room and told her: “You better get your act together. You have cancer and you’ve only got two years.

Jutta was shocked not only at the diagnosis, but at the less-than-compassionate way the news was delivered.

“It took me at least a month to get over that,” she says. Eventually she decided the doctor’s prediction was only that—a prediction—and she would not live believing it had to come true. Good thing—it is almost 16 years later and Jutta (far right in the photo) has never had a recurrence and remains cancer-free. 

As she reflects on her cancer journey, she says, “You don’t stop living just because you hear the word cancer. That’s the worst thing you can do. Even if my cancer had been stage 4, I would have still set goals and gone for them. I believe that somebody who sets goals lives longer.”

Jutta says she still has a goal of being “an encouragement to other people.” (You can bet I tell every new pancreatic patient I know about her!)

You need to know and believe that cancer–or any illness–is not an automatic death sentence. Doctors do their best at predicting cure rates and odds of survival, but these predictions are just educated guesses. I’m very glad that my oncologist does not regularly dole out predictions about how long patients have to live. He feels those predictions become self-fulfilling prophecies in many patients’ minds. I know zillions of people who have lived longer—some many times longer—than doctors or medical science predicted.

Predictions are just that. They do not have the last word. Please remember today that your and your loved one’s times are in God’s hands and He ­doesn’t need “good odds” to heal.

In the words of the late pastor/author Charles L. Allen:

 “When you say a situation or person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.”[1]

Lord, Please help us all from slamming the door in Your face; from refusing to believe that you are the God of the unexpected, the improbable and even the impossible. Thank You that You don’t need good odds to do mighty works and that no statistic or white coat has the final word over our lives. Thank you that You have power over everything—over every errant cell in our bodies, over every discouraging word on our lips and over every hopeless thought in our minds. We open the door to You and the healing touch You want to bring to our lives. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

[1] All Things are Possible through Prayer, pg. 51, Charles L. Allen, Revell, 2003.

Be sure to view this in your browser to hear the music video below “All Things Possible” by Mark Schultz

Jun 05

What’s on your to-do list today?

 

My husband has a serious problem.

And what’s worse is the fact he doesn’t even think he has a problem. I have no doubt that when I tell you what his problem is, you’ll be pretty shocked. But perhaps my talking about it in front of hundreds and hundreds of people will help him see what a terrible problem it is.

Better sit down before you read any more.

My husband’s problem (besides eating really blue birthday cake frosting) is  that he doesn’t make to-do lists.I can hear the gasps now. I mean, how can such a wonderful, kind person not make to-do lists? After 45 years of watching me faithfully make these lists and carefully updating them throughout the day, how can he have failed to see the light?

I’ve patiently tried to cure him of this malady by making to-do lists for him. He has responded in one of two ways: either losing the list or failing to cross out any items after he completes them. When I ask him about this latter misstep, he tells me that he knows he has done the task, so he doesn’t need to cross it off.

How can you not cross off a finished task on your to-do list? There is such superb satisfaction in drawing that ink line across the item.

Some of you know exactly what I mean and others of you, I’m afraid, are sympathizing with my husband because you also have a genetic mutation which prevents you from making to-do lists. (And yes, of course I will pray for you–you don’t even need to ask. I’ll just add praying to my to-do list.)

However, my husband is too sweet to tell you (and he doesn’t blog), but I also have a serious problem.

I can get so wrapped up in my to-do list that I may miss something God wants me to do. Or I can be so busy crossing off items that I fail to hear His still small voice.

Here’s what I do to treat my problem. At the top of my to-do list I often write: LOVE LIKE JESUS.  I remind myself that no matter how much–or how little–I accomplish in 24 hours, I always can love like Jesus. While I may have a good plan for my day, He may have a better one. What seems like an interruption or even a roadblock in my day may simply be a chance for me to love and trust Him more. And I may be completing tasks with temporal significance while neglecting ones with eternal value.

So what’s on your to-do list today? How about Ephesians 5:1-2?

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.

Or as The Message paraphrase puts it:  Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

No matter what else gets done today, choose to LOVE LIKE JESUS.
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(Be sure to open in your browser so you don’t miss the music video below: “Love Like Jesus.”

 

May 22

“Don’t look for big things, just do small things with great love… The smaller the thing, the greater must be our love.” Mother Teresa

 

I’m pretty sure the only thing “small” about Mother Teresa’s life was her stature. Nearly 50 years of sacrificially serving the “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for” hardly seems to qualify as doing “small things.” But there’s certainly no doubt that this diminutive nun, honored in 1979 with the Nobel Peace Prize, was filled with great love for the poorest of India’s poor. 

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you head to Calcutta and take a vow of poverty (although health insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays may leave you feeling as if you have!). But I am encouraging you to ask God to show you some small things you can do with great love.  No matter how uncertain or bleak life looks, I guarantee you it will become brighter as you reach out in love to others in need.

Cindi, a cancer survivor who lives in the shadow of recurring granulosa cell tumors, says she wakes up each day “knowing my life is very different than most people.

“I’m either overwhelmed with thankfulness for still being alive six years past my diagnosis or just the opposite, and I am overwhelmed with fear that I might not be here for my daughter in the future,” she explains.

“The way I try to cope with it is to live outside myself,” she says. “It really helps to get out of my own crisis and reach out and love someone else. I try to offer acts of kindness toward others—visits, cards, small gifts.”

Cindi says she doesn’t have money or energy to do big things for others so one day she bought a bunch of $3 plants at Aldi discount grocery and gave them to folks who “needed cheering up.” Another day she and her daughter delivered bags of Pepperidge Farm cookies to friends going through hard times.

“I would say everyone who got them cried,” Cindi recalls. “You think you’re going to bless this person, but you walk away blessed. The Lord has given me several opportunities to encourage others and in so doing, I’m the one who has been encouraged.”

Doing small things with great love “really helps me to come out of my own health crisis,” she adds.

I realize it might not sound logical, but the next time you are feeling anxious or worried or discouraged or overwhelmed, try living outside yourself. Ask God to show you even one small thing you could do with great love for another person who is going through a hard time.

 

“Come be My light” were the words Mother Teresa heard Jesus speak to her heart as He called her to minister to the poor.

I believe He whispers those same words to all of us today—cancer survivors and caregivers included.

Come be My light to someone else feeling the darkness. Come be My light even if you think your light is a small one, it is better than no light at all.  Come be My light because when you shine it with great love, it is sure to be a blessing.

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world.
God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill.
If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you?
I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine!
Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16 The Message Bible 

Excerpted from Peace in the Face of Cancer. Copyright 2017 by Lynn Eib.
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Make sure you open this article in your browser so you can enjoy the song below by Kathy Troccoli.

 

 

 

May 08

Do you pray desperate prayers?

 

Have you ever prayed a desperate prayer? You know, the kind where you cry out to God because there is absolutely nothing you can do to “fix” the situation?


I’ve prayed plenty of those.

I remember a time I was trying to get to the grocery store for some needed supplies before a snowstorm hit. As I drove down a small hill near my home I didn’t realize it already was a solid sheet of ice. I started sliding and there was no way I could control my car as the glassy surface spun me sideways. I was on the wrong side of the road and headed straight for a large tree at the pavement’s edge. A crash was inevitable.

So I took my hands off the wheel, lifted them toward Heaven and audibly cried out “Help me, Jesus!”

The car turned 180 degrees and came to rest on the road heading back toward my home. Needless to say, groceries were forgotten and I slowly drove to my house. It was a desperate prayer and God had answered.

I’ve prayed other desperate prayers which God dramatically answered, although not quite as quickly:

Jesus, we need the money to pay this bill.

Father, please spare Beth’s life.

Lord, deliver our friend  from his addiction.

And still other desperate pleas which were never answered the way I hoped:

God, don’t let these dear friends’ marriage fall a part.

Lord, please heal Doris’s brain tumor.

Father, don’t let little Dominic die.

How about you? When was the last time you prayed a desperate prayer? Perhaps you are even praying one today.

“Most of us have been to the emotional depths,” says bestselling author Chris Tiegreen. “We’ve been desperate about a situation–relational, economic, physical, spiritual–and we’ve cried out to God with every ounce of energy we have.”

How did you feel at the time? Embarrassed to be so needy? Worried that you weren’t a very good Christian? Concerned that you were bothering God when He had plenty of other things to take care of?

Did you ever feel like you were worshipping God?

You were.

“Desperate prayers are, in fact, one of the clearest ways for us to honor God,” Tiegreen says. “Saying ‘Lord, I need You,’ acknowledges His importance to us. He is essential, after all, and the desperate soul is not afraid to say so.”

Psalm 42: 1-3 The Voice Bible
My soul is dry and thirsts for You, True God,
as a deer thirsts for water,
I long for the True God who lives.
When can I stand before Him and feel His comfort?
Right now I’m 
overwhelmed by my sorrow and pain; 
I can’t stop feasting on my tears.

Psalm 86:6-7
Listen closely to my prayer, O LORD; hear my urgent cry.
I will call to you whenever I’m in trouble, and you will answer me.”

Psalm 69:1-3
Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck.
Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire;
I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water and the floods overwhelm me…
Answer my prayers, O LORD, for your unfailing love is wonderful.

Every time you utter a desperate prayer, you admit to God that He is all you really have. So go ahead and cry out to Jesus, as the song below says. Your desperate plea is an act of worship and that is music to His ears.

 

 

Apr 24

Why Does God Allow Suffering?


This has to be one of the most difficult questions we can ask
.

Why do children get cancer?
Why does a young woman fight for her life while an elderly woman prays to die?
Why do brilliant minds get dementia?
Why does one person walk away from an accident unhurt and another is paralyzed for life?
Why do some people have so many trials and others have so few?

Volumes have been written on this topic and I have been enlightened especially by the works of C.S. Lewis and Philip Yancey. But because neither of them is available today to write this blog 🙂 I’d like to share three reasons God may be allowing suffering in your life or the life of someone you love. (Based on the book For Those Who Hurt by Charles Swindoll, copyright 1977,  published by Multnomah Press.)

Why God Allows Suffering in Our Lives

  1. That we might be prepared to comfort others.
    All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

2.  That we might not trust in ourselves.
We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we never would live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. We have placed our confidence in him and he will continue to rescue us. 2 Corinthians 1:8-10

3.  That we might learn to give thanks in all things.
And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety. 2 Corinthians 1:11

I certainly can’t make sense of your/your loved one’s suffering for you, but I hope you will ask God if one of these is might be “the reason” for that suffering. I believe that knowing our suffering has a purpose can make it easier to bear. 

Perhaps Shannon Wexelberg’s words in the music video “Different Kind of Miracle” will resonate with your weary heart: If I had my way every time I called to Heaven, would I know Him like I know Him today? While I’ve waited so long, He’s been working all along…Could it be He is using all this in my life? Could it be this prayer I’ve prayed is not quite what He’s after? And I will find He’s done a different kind of miracle in my life.

(Be sure to open in your browser to enjoy.)

Apr 10

Ever feel like you want to run and hide?

My grandchildren never seem to tire of playing hide ‘n’ seek. They love scurrying around to find a “a really good place” while admonishing my husband and me to “keep your eyes closed!” Eventually 4-year-old Abby yells out “Ready!” which makes it pretty easy to follow the sound of her voice to her not-so-hidden special spot.

Two-year-old Jack is the easiest to find because he usually hides in the same place and as soon as “Am-pop” or “Mee-muh” discover him, he squeals with delight. Six-year-old Ben gives us longer to hide as he doesn’t skip counting numbers the way his younger siblings do.

I remember our oldest daughter playing hide ‘n’ seek as a towheaded toddler. As long as she had her head underneath something, she thought she was hidden. Never mind that the rest of her was wriggling in plain sight! And I recall as a young girl playing hide ‘n’ seek with barefoot friends on summer evenings as fireflies lit up the dark sky. I’m pretty certain every generation has its memories of this iconic pastime. 

Of course, we adults still play hide ‘n’ seek, don’t we? We hide from worries we can’t interrupt or fears we can’t face. We may try to hide or emotions or our struggles. Maybe we hope no one finds us out.

Perhaps you’re not hiding, but you sure feel like you want to.

Last summer when my husband was dealing with a serious infection and facing a third knee replacement (yes, I said third), I came down with Lyme disease less than 48 hours before he went into the hospital for removal of his prosthesis. I felt so awful physically and so emotionally drained for my dear husband, and so mentally exhausted trying to get ready to care for an immobilized person for the next couple of months that I  wanted to find a “really good place” to hide. (And hoped that no one came seeking me unless it was a free, live-in maid and nurse!)

I can think of many other instances when life felt so overwhelming, I simply wanted to hide. When I was diagnosed with cancer. When there wasn’t enough money to pay the bills. When my mother died. When dear friends’ marriage crumbled. When people got upset and left our church.

But as Christ-followers we have to face reality and we can’t just run and hide…or can we?

That depends on where we are going to hide.

Hiding is not forbidden, says bestselling author Chris Tiegreen: “God allows it. His only request is that we hide ourselves in Him.”

Psalm 94:22 But the Lord is my fortress; my God is the mighty rock where I hide.

Psalm 143:9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me.

Psalm 57:1 Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection. I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by.

Psalm 71:3 Be my rock of safety where I can always hide.

Next time life feels overwhelming, don’t just run away and hide, do as the song below says “Run to Jesus.” And as the second really short song (in wonderful four-part harmony!) reminds us, God is our “rock of ages” and it’s always good to hide ourselves in Him.

 

 

 

Mar 27

Do you have as much faith as my granddaughters?

Tens of millions of people around the country filled out online brackets for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, including twelve in our family. We seven adults are true sports fans and the five grandkids in our group are being properly schooled in bracket lingo, including the art of choosing a cool team name. Heading into the Sweet Sixteen “Mr The B-Man Bauer,” age 8, sits alone in first-place, followed by son-in-law “Nice Guy Frank” and “Grandma’sGotGame,” while “Ben the Gryphon,” age 6, is closing in on his mom, “Lindsey’sFeelingLucky.”

There also are folks who don’t even know anything about basketball, but still participate in March Madness.

I heard a local radio DJ admit she doesn’t normally follow college basketball, but really likes cheese so she picked Wisconsin to make it to the Final Four. She selected Duke to win it all because she likes the cartoon dog Marmaduke.

But the craziest selection method I heard was a young woman who never watches basketball  and admitted: “I picked my bracket on the colors of their costumes.” (She chose Maryland to be crowned champs and although the Terrapins “costumes” are colorfully decorated with the state flag, they got beat in the second round.)

Pictured here are two of my granddaughters, “CallieCallieboBallie,” 4, and “IzzyBizzy,” 6,  first-year participants in filling out brackets. The only basketball team they have ever watched–or even heard of–is THE Ohio State Buckeyes, so guess who they both picked to take home the trophy?…Of course, Grandma’s alma mater.

Their mom, our middle daughter Bethany a.k.a. “LetsGetReadytoCrumble,” who played college basketball, gave them a choice each round between Ohio State and whomever the girls predicted they would face. Every time, each girl was unwavering in her decision. No amount of suggestion, logic, odds, statistics, or “colorful” costumes was going to change these sweet girls’ minds.

That, my friends, is childlike faith.

I think it’s the kind of faith Jesus was speaking about in Matthew 19 when His disciples tried to keep some little ones from “bothering” Him. Instead Jesus placed His hands on them, blessed them and announced that the “Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these little children.”

It’s the kind of faith the writer of Hebrews speaks of in chapters 11 and 12: “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

I love the tenacity of my granddaughters’ faith and their resolve to stand by “Grandma’s team” (I only picked the Buckeyes to win in the first round!) The problem is that the object of their faith was not fully reliable.

The faith that scripture admonishes us to have is in an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, merciful, just, holy, compassionate, sovereign God, who can be trusted to keep His promises. (Definitely better than the Buckeyes.)

Just having faith is not enough–we have to place that faith in a God, who will remain faithful to us…whether or not life is fair to us.

2 Timothy 2:11-13:
This is a trustworthy saying:
If we die with him, will also will live with him.
If we endure hardship, we will reign with him.
If we deny him, he will deny us.
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.

Enjoy March Madness and let it remind you against all odds and in spite of all naysayers to have a childlike faith in your Heavenly Father. And if you want a chuckle today, enlarge the photo of my granddaughters to see the score they predicted for the championship game. Eliza has OSU winning 99-2 and Callie, who didn’t have quite as much faith, forecast the Buckeyes winning 90-4. Do you have as much faith as my granddaughters?

(Be sure you open blog this in your browser to hear the music video below: “He’s Always Been Faithful” by Sara Groves and suggested to me by my oldest daughter, “Aunt D is Ready to Win.”)

Mar 20

God Doesn’t Need Good Odds to Heal

I’ve been thinking a lot about  odds–good odds, bad odds, no odds–because as soon as I finish writing this blog I’m filling out my bracket for the NCAA basketball championship as I attempt to predict all 67 game winners. The odds I will do that correctly are rather slim: 1 in 9.2 quintillion, according to a DePaul University mathematician. (For the record, a quintillion is a billion billions!) Needless to say, no one in the history of the tournament has ever had a verifiably perfect bracket and you can be sure I won’t either!

You may or may not be a college basketball fan, but chances are you think about odds, too. Maybe the survival odds a physician has given you or a loved–or those you’ve read about online. Perhaps you’re considering the odds your marriage will survive or whether you ever will get married. Maybe the odds you’re contemplating are whether or not you’ll get the money to pay your bills or if you’ll find a much-needed job. Perhaps the odds seem to be stacked against you…and maybe they actually are.

But I have some encouragement for you which I recently read  from best-selling author Chris Tiegreen:

Are you weary? Feeling defeated? Overwhelmed by the odds against you? Don’t be. This isn’t about odds, and it isn’t even about your strength. Our weakness is no problem for God; in fact, it’s His golden opportunity to show Himself strong. If you are feeling weak, you are in a good place. God can now do His work with less hindrance. The stage is set for His might.”

I remember when I was diagnosed with cancer in 1990 at the age of 36 and given about a 40-percent chance of survival, I felt overwhelmed by those odds. But as I began to consider the God of scripture, I knew He didn’t need good odds to achieve a victory.

What do you think the oddsmakers would have given the shepherd boy David vs. the giant Goliath?

What were the odds Sarah would give birth at the age of 90?

What was the possibility that 5,000 men, plus women and children could be fed with five loaves of bread and two small fish…and even have leftovers?

How likely was it that a Jewish carpenter would walk out from a sealed tomb three days after being tortured and crucified?

If you or your loved one is facing an uphill battle of tough odds, please remember that God doesn’t need good odds to heal–and that’s any kind of healing: mental, emotional, spiritual and physical. 

Listen! The LORD’S arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear your call. Isaiah 59:1

Maybe your loved one is near death or already has passed away and you’re thinking there’s a 100-percent chance you can’t make it without them.  I want to remind you that “the stage is set for His might.” You may not get over this loss, but by God’s presence and power, you will get through it.

God is our refuge and our strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Psalm 46:1-2

The song below was written by Mark Hall, lead singer of Casting Crowns on the day he was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2015 (read the story behind the song at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BPNLi1TPXE  ). What a beautiful message from one who has been in the valley: “O my soul, you are not alone.”

 

 

 

Mar 13

Have you raised a HALLELUJAH today?

A diagnosis of cancer or any difficult trial brings with it many responses, but “Hallelujah!” is not usually one of them. When I found out my cells had gone awry and allowed cancer to grow inside me, gratefulness was pretty much the last thing I felt. 

But I kept thinking about the admonition in the Bible to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I knew that did not mean I had to be some sort of masochist and praise God for ­every­ awful thing that happened to me. Instead, I believed it meant I could have a thankful heart no matter how depressing my circumstances were.

So a few weeks after my diagnosis in 1990, I began to look for something for which to be thankful. It was one of those conversations between my head and my heart.

Let’s see . . . I have cancer at the age of 36 after taking good care of myself physically. No, ­can’t think of anything worthy of thanks there.

My three little girls may have to grow up without a mother. Nope, that ­doesn’t work either.

My husband already has buried one wife and now has a 60-percent chance he’ll outlive another. Naw, that isn’t inspiring any words of praise.

­I’m going to have to take toxic chemotherapy, when I ­don’t even like to take an aspirin. Not much there to feel grateful about.

Finally, it came to me.

Dr.  Marc Hirsh! I have a Messianic ­Jewish oncologist—who knows, maybe the country’s ­only Messianic ­Jewish oncologist—practicing medicine just seven miles from my home. I humbly bowed my head and heart and for the first time since hearing the dreaded news “you have cancer,” I thanked God in the midst of my circumstance.

“Father, you know I ­don’t feel any thankfulness about my situation, but I want to thank You for leading Dr. Marc Hirsh here to be my physician.”

I can ­only imagine God smiling and saying, “Now you’re getting it. Just wait to see how ­really thankful you’re going to be when you I use this doctor to change your life.”

After that prayer, the rest is history, as they say. (If you want to read the earlier incredible story of Marc’s spiritual journey to faith in Jesus as his Messiah, you’ll have to read my first book, When God & Cancer Meet.) But the short story of our “doctor-patient relationship” is that our families became close friends and in 1996 he and his wife Elizabeth offered me a position in his office as a patient advocate providing emotional and spiritual care to cancer patients and their caregivers. I ­can’t imagine what my life would have been like without being a patient advocate for nearly 20 years.

If you or your loved one have a cancer diagnosis or are facing some other unwanted difficulty, I’m wondering if in the midst of your circumstances you have found a reason to raise a HALLELUJAH–literally “praise song” (hallelu) “God” (Jah)).

I think the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk penned a wonderful example of offering a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15) even when everything around him was going wrong:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
And though there are no grapes on the vines;
Even though the olive crop fails,
And the fields lie empty and barren;
Even though the flocks die in the fields,
And the cattle barns are empty,

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD!

I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! Habakkuk 3:17,18

Go ahead, be thankful in all things—even when the hair follicles have no “blossoms,” even though your strength “fails”” and even though your dreams “lie empty and barren.” Go ahead and “Raise a Hallelujah” because a prayer of thanksgiving can unleash the power of God in our lives in amazing ways! (Don’t miss the music video below–open in your browser to view!)

Feb 27

I Choose Joy!

“It’s quiet. It’s early. My coffee is hot. The sky is still black. The world is asleep. The day is coming.

“In a few moments the day will arrive. It will roar down the track with the rising of the sun. The stillness of the dawn will be exchanged for the noise of the day. The calm of solitude will be replaced by the pounding of the human race. The refuge of the early morning will be invaded by decisions to be made and deadlines to be met.

“For the next twelve hours I will be exposed to the day’s demands. It is now I must make a choice… Because of Calvary I’m free to choose. And so I choose.

I choose JOY…

I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance.

I will refuse the temptation to be cynical…the tool of the lazy thinker.

I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings created by God.

I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.”

I choose JOY.”
(Excerpted from When God Whispers Your Name, copyright 2009 by Max Lucado)

 Will you choose joy today? If you would like to, but your “funny bone” isn’t working, you need to get it repaired.

I recommend you go to the manufacturer of your life (God). Contact Him on His technical support hotline (prayer) and check out His operating instructions for your life (the Bible). God created you and knows just what you need. I can’t promise God will give you a laugh, but I can promise He will give you His deep-seated joy. It begins by choosing to become a follower of Jesus and it continues day by day by choosing to allow Him to direct your life. Then, and only then, will you find a quiet joy in spite of any circumstance. 

Here’s how Jesus explains it in John 15:11: “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”

Will you invite God to be the Lord over your painful circumstances? Will you refuse to doubt that you can make it through? Will you see your irritating friends and relatives as people for whom Jesus died? Will you look at your problems as an incredible opportunity to see God at work? Will you rest in the love of Jesus and be filled with His true joy?

Choose JOY today…because of Calvary you can.
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Please enjoy the music video below “Joy” by For King and Country (open in your browser).