May 04

Laughter IS Good Medicine!

 

 

It’s been said “Laughter is like changing a baby’s diaper—it doesn’t permanently solve any problems, but it does make things more acceptable for a while.”

How long has it been since you had a good laugh?

There’s nothing funny about cancer, but every time we laugh, it reminds us we’re still alive and that feels really good. I believe that we all need to keep—or—get a sense of humor even in the shadow of illness.

Laughter is good for the body. Science is just figuring that out, but the Bible told us that a long time ago. Proverbs 15:30 says: “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news makes for good health.” Proverbs 17:22 reiterates the point: “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”

For some people, the ability to laugh comes easily, but for others—especially those going through trials—it takes a more effort. If your funny bone could use some strengthening today, here are some suggestions from Endurance with Jan & Dave Dravecky:

  1. Start your own comedy collection of jokes and cartoons. (Do an Internet search for “clean jokes” or read the daily newspaper and you’ll find some funny ones. Post them at your desk or on your fridge so you can remind yourself to laugh.)
  2. Get your groceries and a chuckle by reading some of the tabloid headlines while standing in line. (Pick a long line so you’ll have time to read about things like aliens with anorexia and manure as a miracle cure for arthritis!)
  3. Hang out at greeting card racks and enjoy reading funny cards. (You’ll get a kick out of them yourself and you also can buy one and send it to someone who hasn’t had anything to laugh about for a while.)
  4. Become a humorous people “groupie” by hanging out with funny people. (Either you’re a funny friend or you need one!)
  5. Make the most of embarrassing moments. (Share your foibles with a trusted friend and have a good laugh together about things like how your wig blew off your bald-from-chemo head.)

Laughter is healing medicine, so please take a full prescription of it!

Apr 27

A Place to Call Home

 

Our world could use some good news couldn’t it? In many ways it’s a frightening time in which to be living; wars, rumors of wars, the constant threat of terrorism, the ups and downs of the stock market, violence in the classrooms, so many friends and relatives with cancer, families torn apart by abuse and divorce. Life is not only hard; it’s often downright unfair, as some people seem to have more than their share of troubles. You might even be one of those people.

I once overhead a middle-aged gentleman remark: “Every time I think I have my life together, something happens and it’s falling apart again!”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we lived in a world where everything was fair and people didn’t get sick, and sad things didn’t happen, and nobody had to die? Who wouldn’t want to call such a place their “home?”

Did you ever wonder why there’s such a longing in each of us for just such a kind of place? It’s a longing for home, you know. A longing for our real home. You see, we weren’t created to live in California or New York or Florida or anywhere else on the face of this planet. We were created for our real home: Heaven.

The Bible describes heaven in Revelation 21:4 as a place where God “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.”

And why won’t there be any more tears or death or sorrow or pain? Not because we’ll have all the money we ever wanted or all the fame or all the knowledge or any other tangible item.

It’s because we’ll have God Himself.

In Revelation 21:3, the verse right before the one about no more tears, pain or death, it says: “Look! God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them and they will be his people.”

That’s why there won’t be any more tears or pain or death. We’ll have what we always really needed to be whole—the constant presence of God Himself.

The great 17th-century philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal wrote that each of us has a “God-shaped vacuum” in us. There’s a hole, so to speak in our hearts that leaves us longing for something more than this world has to offer. It’s a hole and a longing that God put in us when He created us. He knows only He can fill that hole even though we try to fill it ourselves with all sorts of other things. Some of us try to fill it by buying “stuff” or with relationships or with work or sports or with learning or religious rituals. Some even try things like food or sex or drugs or alcohol. But none of these can fill the God-shaped vacuum in us…instead they only make it bigger.

The only thing that fills that hole and makes us whole is when God fills it with Himself by putting His very Spirit inside us, one life at a time. And when God’s Spirit lives inside us, we discover our purpose for living.

A health crisis often makes us realize how precious life is and can send us scurrying to discover the meaning of life. So, why are we here?

It’s really quite simple. Do you know what it is?

We were created to praise God.

That’s right. We find true joy, true fulfillment when we realize there’s Someone bigger than us. Someone greater than us. Someone worthy of every bit of praise we can give.

We were created to praise God with our lips…and our lives.

And when we do, there’s a feeling of peace and power that comes over us that hardly can be described. It’s a feeling that reminds us this world is not our real home.

If you’ve never really had praise for God well up in your heart, we pray that you will as you read He Cares today. Revelation gives us just a teeny glimpse of what it’s going to be like in heaven standing before the throne of God with Jesus at His right hand and us telling them how much we love them.

And if you’re still trying to fill that God-shaped vacuum with other things, I pray you’ll allow God’s to fill you with Himself and satisfy that longing for your real home.

Apr 20

That’s NOT Fair!

 

Remember when you were a kid and indignantly informed your parents: “That’s not fair!”

They probably responded with some important information for you: “Life’s not fair.” Their response only made you madder!

Nobody who’s being treated unfairly wants to hear it. It’s a logical response to a heartfelt emotion. But the longer we live, the more we all realize how true that statement is. Perhaps life has been unfair to you or your loved one recently or perhaps for a very long time. Either way, life has disappointed you. Maybe if you’re really honest you’ll admit you even feel disappointed by God.

I have another truth we’d like to share: don’t confuse life with God.

In Philip Yancey’s book Disappointment with God, he writes about a man named Douglas whom he interviewed because he thought Douglas might feel a great disappointment with God. Life, as Yancey describes it, had been very unfair to Douglas. While his wife was battling advanced breast cancer, Douglas was in a car accident with a drunk driver and suffered a terrible head injury that left him permanently disabled, often in pain and unable to work full-time.

But when Yancey asked this victim of unfairness to describe his disappointment with God, Douglas said he didn’t feel any and instead told Yancey the following:

“I have learned to see beyond the physical reality in this world to the spiritual reality. We tend to think, ‘Life should be fair because God is fair,’ But God is not life. And if I confuse God with the physical reality of life—by expecting constant good health, for example—then I set myself up for crashing disappointment.

“If we develop a relationship with God apart from our life circumstances, “ said Douglas, “then we may be able to hang in there when the physical reality breaks down. We can learn to trust God in spite of the unfairness of life.”

Cancer is very unfair. Even if you “did” something to “get” it or didn’t do something not to get it, it’s still unfair. Maybe you are a smoker diagnosed with some smoking-related cancer. It’s still unfair because many smokers never get develop a disease from their habit (only about 20-percent get lung cancer). Maybe you quit smoking ten or twenty years ago and you still have been afflicted. Hardly fair.

Perhaps you didn’t get regular mammograms, PAP smears or PSAs and now you have cancer. Guess what, it’s still not fair, because lots of people don’t get those screening tests and they don’t get cancer. Besides some people get them faithfully and the cancer isn’t even detected! That seems even more unfair.

Maybe you are overweight or out-of-shape or didn’t get regular physicals and now you have cancer. It’s still not very fair because you know many others in your same circumstances with great health. Or perhaps you received the ultimate insult in being diagnosed with cancer in spite of taking the best care possible of yourself and doing everything right not to get sick.

Go ahead and say it.

It’s not fair that I have this.

It’s not fair that my loved one has this.

It’s not fair that this has happened to us right now.

Say it, but don’t be confused that life should be fair because God is.

Life is not fair, but God is not life.

 

Yancey says that “Every time a believer struggles with sorrow or loneliness or ill health or pain and chooses to trust and serve God anyhow, a bell rings out across heaven and the angels give a great shout. Why? Because one more pilgrim has shown again that he or she understands that Jesus is worth it all. God is faithful.”

There’s a law firm I once heard advertising on the radio by spotlighting people who have had awful, unfair things happen to them and then hired a lawyer to try and rectify the situation. The commercial concluded, that you, too, should call this law firm “when life hands you moments you just don’t deserve.”

I have some even better advice: When life hands you moments you just don’t deserve, put your trust in the Lord, because even when life is unfair, God is faithful.

Apr 13

Finding the Right Attitude

 

 

It’s often said that there are two kinds of people in life: optimists and pessimists. You probably think I’m going to tell you to be an optimist, but I’m not.

I think the best attitude for someone facing cancer is neither total optimism (without a doubt, I’m going to be cured) nor total pessimism (without a doubt I’m going to die), but realism (without a doubt I have a life-threatening illness and I may or may not get better, so I will plan for both).

When we insist we are going to be cured, we set ourselves up for a terrible defeat if it doesn’t happen. On the other hand, if we insist our situation is hopeless, we already are defeated before we start. I believe it’s best to be realistic and make plans to be financially, emotionally and spiritually ready to depart this life. That’s not giving up. It’s coming to grips with our own mortality, so we can really life fully without fear of death.

I believe there’s a difference between total optimism and a positive attitude. Total optimism says: “I’m absolutely, positively going to be cured.” A positive attitude says: “I hope and pray and even expect that I’m going to be cured, but even if I’m not, I will not be defeated.”

A totally optimistic attitude insists lemons will get sweeter. A positive attitude adds some sweetener and makes lemonade out of the lemons.

Author Chuck Swindoll has a wonderful description of the power of a positive attitude: “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I am that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it. I believe the single most significant decision I can make on a day-to-day basis is my choice of attitude. It is more important that my past, my education, my bankroll, my successes or failures, fame or pain, what other people think of me or say about me, my circumstances, or my position. Attitude keeps me going or cripples my progress. It alone fuels my fire or assaults my hope. When my attitudes are right, there’s no barrier too high, no valley too deep, no dream too extreme, no challenge too great for me.”

I pray your heart finds the right attitude—a positive, realistic attitude.

Apr 06

Entrusting Our Loved Ones to God’s Care

 

When cancer hits someone in a family, it’s as if the whole family “has” the disease because it disrupts our lifestyle and affects everyone in the home. We wish we could prevent its impact, but it’s not possible.

Those of us who have been diagnosed with cancer may even soberly imagine what life would be like for our families without us.

And when we do, the bottom-line question we must face is: Which do I love more—my relationships on earth or my relationship with God? It’s fairly easy to say we love God most of all, but when push comes to shove (or illness comes our way), will we be longing for our heavenly home or only hanging on to our earthly one? Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think God wants us to turn our backs on our family or our home with some sort of misdirected heavenly gaze.

 

He wants us to love our family with an unending, unconditional love.

But He still wants us to love Him more.

He wants us to love life with a passion and a purpose.

But He still wants us to love Him more.

He wants us to love this world with care and concern.

But He still wants us to love Him more.

 

Have you been able to entrust your family to God’s care no matter what happens to you? Here’s a conversation I had many years ago with the Lord.

They love me and I love them so very much.

I love them even more than you do.

I know You love them, but I want to take care of them.

I love them even more than you do.

I know You love them, but they need me.

I love them even more than you do.

I don’t want to entrust them to You, Lord. I want them to be entrusted to me.  I…I…I…

            I love them more than you do.

 

It’s time to walk by faith and not by sight. God loves your loved ones even more than you do.

 

Mar 23

Encouraging a Depressed Loved One

 

The word “encourage” means to inspire or fill someone with courage, spirit or hope. But how in the world do you encourage someone who is depressed?

To answer that difficult question, I’d like to share some thoughts from the book New Light on Depression by David Biebel, D.Min. and Harold Koenig, M.D.

“Family members, loved ones, and friends should encourage depressed persons—to get up in the morning, to go out to dinner, to go to a movie, to exercise with them, to do the things their depression is preventing them from enjoying, and to seek professional help if they are not doing so already. Once depressed people get out and start moving they often feel a lot better. Encouraging, however is not the same as forcing, manipulating, or cajoling, nor will arguing about it help much…Here, again, discernment is crucial so that your suggestions are made in the right way at the right time, to ensure the greatest likelihood that they will be accepted.

“One way to encourage a depressed friend to get out (and to get help) is to find a good depression support group and invite your loved one to attend it with you.” [1]

Biebel and Koenig identify “four helping patterns” they have seen Christians employ with their depressed family and friends. These are:

  1. Judging (“Your problem is caused by sin or lack of faith”)
  2. Giving advice (“Cheer up—things could be worse!”),i
  3. Identification (sympathizing so much that you get sucked into the pit of depression, too) and
  4. Empathy (suffering together with the person).

According to the authors “Only empathy really helps.” [2] Empathizers deeply feel the other person’s pain, without making it their own.

“The empathizer goes and gets a ladder, puts it in the pit, and climbs down to be with the depressed person until he or she is ready to climb out,” the authors say. “The key difference is that the empathizer has a goal in mind—not just to feel the depressed person’s pain, but to also act in a sense as a redeemer, willing to pay whatever cost there is in order for the other person to be healed…

“If you are really going to help your loved one through and beyond depression, the only way is to lay aside your rights, by choice, with the goal of serving that person’s best interests until he or she emerges into the light of day again.” [3]

Got a ladder? Put it down in your depressed loved one’s pit, climb down with them and pray for them until they climb out.

 

[1] David B. Biebel and Harold G. Koenig New Light on Depression: Help, Hope, and Answers for the Depressed and Those Who Love Them (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House), 2004, 233.

[2] Ibid, 246.

[3] Ibid, 248-249.

Mar 16

That’s Not Fair!

 

Remember when you were a kid and indignantly informed your parents: “That’s not fair!”

They probably responded with some important information for you: “Life’s not fair.” Their response only made you madder!

Nobody who’s being treated unfairly wants to hear it. It’s a logical response to a heartfelt emotion. But the longer we live, the more we realize how true that statement is. Perhaps life has been unfair to you or your loved one recently or perhaps for a very long time. Either way, life has disappointed you. Maybe if you’re really honest you’ll admit you even feel disappointed by God.

I have another truth I’d like to share: Don’t confuse life with God.

In Philip Yancey’s book Disappointment with God, he writes about a man named Douglas whom he interviewed because he thought Douglas might feel a great disappointment with God. Life, as Yancey describes it, had been very unfair to Douglas. While his wife was battling advanced breast cancer, Douglas was in a car accident with a drunk driver and suffered a terrible head injury that left him permanently disabled, often in pain and unable to work full-time.

But when Yancey asked this victim of unfairness to describe his disappointment with God, Douglas said he didn’t feel any and instead told Yancey the following:

“I have learned to see beyond the physical reality in this world to the spiritual reality. We tend to think, ‘Life should be fair because God is fair,’ But God is not life. And if I confuse God with the physical reality of life—by expecting constant good health, for example—then I set myself up for crashing disappointment.

“If we develop a relationship with God apart from our life circumstances, “ said Douglas, “then we may be able to hang in there when the physical reality breaks down. We can learn to trust God in spite of the unfairness of life.”

Cancer is very unfair. Even if you “did” something to “get” it or didn’t do something not to get it, it’s still unfair. Maybe you are a smoker diagnosed with some smoking-related cancer. It’s still unfair because many smokers never get develop a disease from their habit (only about 20-percent get lung cancer). Maybe you quit smoking 10 or 20 years ago and you still have been afflicted. Hardly fair.

Perhaps you didn’t get regular mammograms, PAP smears or PSAs and now you have cancer. Guess what, it’s still not fair, because lots of people don’t get those screening tests and they don’t get cancer. Besides some people get them faithfully and the cancer isn’t even detected! That seems even more unfair.

Maybe you are overweight or out-of-shape or didn’t get regular physicals. Your diagnosis still is not very fair because you know many others in your same circumstances with great health. Or perhaps you received the ultimate insult in being diagnosed with cancer in spite of taking the best care possible of yourself and doing everything right not to get sick.

Go ahead and say it.

It’s not fair that I have this.

It’s not fair that my loved one has this.

It’s not fair that this has happened to us right now.

Say it, but don’t be confused that life should be fair because God is.

Life is not fair, but God is not life.

Yancey says that “Every time a believer struggles with sorrow or loneliness or ill health or pain and chooses to trust and serve God anyhow, a bell rings out across heaven and the angels give a great shout. Why? Because one more pilgrim has shown again that he or she understands that Jesus is worth it all. God is faithful.”

There’s a law firm that advertises on the radio by spotlighting people who have had awful, unfair things happen to them and then hired a lawyer to try and rectify the situation. The commercial concludes, that you, too, should call this law firm “when life hands you moments you just don’t deserve.”

I  think I  have some even better advice: When life hands you moments you just don’t deserve, put your trust in the Lord, because even when life is unfair, God is faithful.

Mar 09

David vs. Goliath

 

If you or your loved one is up again a particularly scary diagnosis, I encourage you to think of the shepherd boy David as he went into battle armed only with a slingshot and five pebbles to fight against the giant Goliath. Do you know what his battle cry was? He wasn’t like The Little Engine that Could, chugging along and repeating “I think I can, I think I can.”

No, his thinking was more like “I know I can’t. I know I can’t.” David was the youngest and smallest boy in his family—too small to wear a protective suit of armor—and Goliath was more than nine feet tall. But David’s battle cry was: “I know God can. I know God can.” If you read 1 Samuel 17:47, you’ll see his exact words: “The battle is the Lord’s.”

That phrase appears many times throughout the Old Testament as mighty warriors went up against even mightier appointments. It’s a phrase you may want to pray as you awake each morning.

Lord, I feel like a little shepherd boy with a slingshot facing a giant named Cancer, and it is more than I can handle. But I choose to believe it is not more than You can handle. The battle belongs to You, Lord. Fight for me and through me. Do what I cannot do on my own.

I believe that sometimes we do get more than we can handle in our own strength, but I also believe in the promise of Philippians 4:13, which says: “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me the strength.”

You don’t have to reach down inside yourself and muster up some super strength. Even if you feel you can’t always “live strong,” you can live by His strength.

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah described that strength: “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall into exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

Live strong BY HIS STRENGTH.

Mar 02

Do I Have to Go to Oz to Get Some Courage?

If someone had said to me in May 1990: “Next month you are going to be diagnosed with metastatic cancer, have major surgery, and then need a year of chemotherapy,” I would have responded: “No way! I cannot possibly go through that!”

I am by nature a wimp.

I bruise and scar easily. Loud noises hurt my ears. I get motion sickness just turning around in the front seat of a car.

And I definitely do not like pain.

When I made the appointment for my first post-cancer colonoscopy (definitely not scheduled to air on national TV like Katie Couric’s!), I told the secretary I wanted plenty of anesthesia because I had been uncomfortably awake during most of the procedure the first time with a different physician.

“Be sure and tell the doctor,” I instructed her. But her casual “uh-huh” left me feeling that she didn’t think it was a real priority.

“Write on my chart ‘Wimp—needs lots of anesthesia,’” I instructed her again. She laughed and I still wondered whether she knew how serious I was.

My question was answered a few weeks later when I met my new gastroenterologist, Dr. Jim Srour, just moments before he started the procedure. The I.V. already was running into my hand as he read my medical chart. “I see it says here that you are a wimp and need lots of anesthesia,” he said without cracking a smile.

“Yes, that’s me!” I exclaimed.

He instructed the nurse to put more anesthesia in my I.V., and that is how and why Jim Srour became my favorite gastroenterologist!

Like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, I often feel I could use a dose of courage, but it’s not usually as easy as getting a little more medicine in an I.V. tube. But I do believe it is possible, even if we’re not naturally brave, to supernaturally receive courage for ourselves and even enough to share with others.

It’s important to understand that receiving supernatural courage is not the same as being a naturally brave person. It’s not something magical that happens to some people and not to others. No, you don’t have to go to Oz to find it.

The kind of courage I’m talking about is what God supernaturally pours into our hearts—even into ordinary, wimpy hearts like mine—through the power of His Spirit as we draw close to Him. And when He does, others notice—especially if we’re in a difficult situation.

“People tell me that I have a shine about me that they just don’t usually see in people,” says my friend Jutta, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003 and given two years to survive, but still cancer-free today. “I tell them that’s just a gift from God.”

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

Yes, it takes courage to live in cancer’s shadow, but it’s not something we just have to reach way down deep into ourselves and find. No, instead, it’s power we receive from God to be strong even when we are weak.

I believe that courage is not living without fear—it’s living in spite of fear.

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

God will give you enough courage to live with an uncertain future. And as you encourage others with your story, you won’t have less courage; you will feel even more encouraged.

I have seen this happen time and again in my job as a patient advocate. People often say to me: “I could never do a job like that.”

My reply is: “I can’t either, but God can through me. I allow Him to pour courage into me so I have it to pour into others.”

So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall, but become strong.–Hebrews 12:12-13 NLT

I know it is difficult to persevere in cancer’s shadow, but I am convinced that it’s not the amount of our faith that gives us courage, it’s the object of our faith that makes all the difference.

Whenever I place my faith in God, I find courage. I don’t need luck, natural bravery, or a trip to the Wizard of Oz! You don’t need a lot of faith to find courage, but you do need to place your faith in the only One who can meet your deepest needs.

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

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.– Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT

 

* M.Scott Peck, Further Along the Road Less Traveled (New York: Touchstone, 1993), 23.

Feb 24

Isn’t There a Faster Way to Wait?

Why does it take so long to get back my blood work?”

“I have to hang on the whole weekend for the test results?”

“What do you mean the doctor can’t see me until next week?”

“This waiting is killing me!”

Ever moaned any of these phrases? I sure have. I once made the mistake of scheduling a barium enema test on a Friday. I thought I would have ulcers by the time I finally got the results on Monday. I jumped every time the phone rang and worried every time it didn’t.

The first few years after I finished chemo, I used to call and talk to the nurses prior to each of my follow-ups so I could get my tumor marker results before I went in for my appointment. I just couldn’t stand to wait.

When I have to wait, my mind begins to wander, the bad little voice of fear starts to pipe up, and I usually begin to think the worst.

A few months after I finished my chemo, I had a CT scan for some terrible abdominal pain I was experiencing. The technician asked me to wait twice while she conferred with another medical person and came back and took more pictures. Each time she came back in the little room and looked at me I became more and more convinced she looked sadder. I should have realized she probably felt sorry for me in my pitiful little blue paper gown, but instead I surmised I must be going to get terrible news.

Finally when she came back in for the third time—even though I knew she wasn’t allowed to say anything about the scan—I blurted out: “Please tell me what’s wrong. I know it must be really bad. Just tell me, I can’t stand this waiting anymore!”

She looked rather puzzled and reassured me that the only thing wrong was that the pictures were not quite clear enough so she had to take another set. I felt better for a moment and then decided she probably was paid to say that to everyone.

I went home and waited for the call from my family physician. When it came, my fear that a new tumor was obstructing my bowel was quickly put to rest. Instead I was told that I needed to take a laxative!

I am convinced that those of us who are planners, who like to be prepared and who relish being in control, make the worst “wait-ers” on the face of the earth. Waiting prevents us from planning, impedes us from being fully prepared, and thwarts our attempt to be absolutely in control of the present as well as the future.

Waiting is a common theme throughout the Bible—after God miraculously freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, they waited in the desert for forty years before He allowed them to enter the Promised Land. Jacob waited fourteen years to marry his beloved Rachel after he was tricked into virtual slave labor by his future father-in-law. The disciples of Jesus waited three very long, agonizing days for Him to rise from the dead.

Often when we wait we become discouraged and are tempted to give up. The Israelites whined and moaned during most of their forty years of waiting. Jacob was furious when he discovered that his father-in-law had tricked him into marrying Rachel’s older sister and he would have to work another seven years to marry Rachel. Following Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples gave up right away and were already back fishing before His resurrection.

When you’re waiting, I have some advice for you. It’s the same advice I tell myself when things are taking too long. Don’t give up. Give in . . . to God.

Go ahead and put yourself at His mercy. That’s where you already are anyway. You might as well as admit it, because when you do then you can start to experience the transforming power that waiting can have on our character.

Don’t get confused. It’s not that the waiting itself changes us—otherwise we all would be pretty wonderful people. After all, everybody has to wait sometimes! But it’s how we respond to the waiting that can be transforming.

I love how author-pastor Rick Warren explains in The Purpose-Driven Life that godly characteristics—things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control— are developed in our lives when we are put in situations in which we are tempted to respond exactly the opposite way.

Patience “is developed in circumstances in which we’re forced to wait and are tempted to be angry or have a short fuse,” Warren writes.

I put this principle into practice one day while I braked for yet another red light on my hurried lunch-hour errand trip. I looked straight at the light, smiled, and said out loud to myself: “I am not waiting for a traffic signal. I am being conformed into the image of Jesus!”

The declaration made me laugh out loud. But I’ll tell you; it was a wonderfully freeing moment. I didn’t squirm waiting for the light to change. I wasn’t frustrated that I wasn’t making good time. I just sat there and enjoyed the presence of God, which supernaturally settled over me.

Try it yourself.

I am not waiting for test results. I am learning to depend more on God.

I am not waiting for a doctor to call me back. I am learning to be patient as God is patient with me.

I am not waiting in cancer’s shadow; I am becoming more like Jesus.

There is no faster way to wait, but there is a better way.

 

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