So tell me the truth, when you read the obituaries, do you scan down to the bottom to see if memorial contributions are to be made to the American Cancer Society?
I know I did after my diagnosis. Every night I’d look in the paper to see if someone I had treatment with had died or how many people listed that day had died from cancer. It was a depressing ritual, but one I found hard to break. I guess it was part of those early days when I let cancer consume my thoughts.
It also seemed to me as if the word “cancer” came up daily in conversations or in the celebrity news headlines. If there was all that cancer out there before, I had never noticed it! I guess it’s like what happens when you get a new car and all of a sudden you notice lots of people with the same make and color vehicle.
And thank goodness I had cancer “in the olden days” as I like to call them when I didn’t have Internet access in my home or at my fingertips on a mobile device. I’m pretty sure that vast amount of Web information would have made me feel even more overwhelmed. (I just Googled the term “colon cancer” and up came 28 MILLION sites!) Often when a newly diagnosed patient came into my office for the first time, the patient’s spouse practically begged me to tell the patient to “stop reading everything on the Internet.”
Don’t misunderstand, I’m thrilled at all the information—and encouragement—that is available on the Web, but a good question to ask yourself after your on-line time is: Do I feel better or worse after what I’ve just read? If information makes you feel better equipped to fight the cancer battle, than search away. But if information makes you feel overwhelmed or depressed or fearful, please don’t keep putting such stuff into your head. (Much of it isn’t accurate anyway!)
Instead I would encourage you to fill your mind with the truth that the God who began creation by simply speaking words is a lot more powerful than any possible misguided cells within our bodies and a lot more trustworthy than any statistics in a medical journal.
So stop feeding your mind with a voice of fear and instead allow a strengthening fear to fill your being. I’m talking about the fear of the Lord.
It’s not a “fall down and shake because you’re afraid of getting zapped” kind of fear, but a Wow! kind of fear. It’s the kind where you are just in awe and amazement and wonder and reverence about God because of what He has done and still can do.
It’s this “fear” that I and so many other cancer survivors have discovered reduces all the other fears.
I love how Psalm 112 describes us “fear-filled” kind of people:
Happy are those who fear the Lord.
Yes, happy are those who delight in doing what he commands. . . .
When darkness overtakes the godly, light will come bursting in.
They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. . . .
They do not fear bad news;
they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
They are confident and fearless
and can face foes triumphantly. Psalm 112:1,4,7-8 NLT-1
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah explained how he, too, learned to have the right kind of fear after God warned him that his country was going to be invaded.
The Lord has said to me in the strongest terms: “Do not think like everyone else does. Do not be afraid that some plan conceived behind closed doors will be the end of you. Do not fear anything except the Lord Almighty. He alone is the Holy One. If you fear him, you need fear nothing else. He will keep you safe.” Isaiah 8:11-14 NLT-1
I don’t know about you, but that’s one voice of fear I always want to hear.
Heavenly Father, Please help me not to feed my mind with fearful things, but instead to confidently trust that You will care for me and my loved ones. Strengthen me not to fear bad news and empower me with fearless confidence to triumphantly face this foe, cancer. Amen.