Everybody reacts differently to the diagnosis of cancer or any other life-threatening condition. Your reaction or your loved one’s reaction and mine probably had many things in common, but no doubt there were differences as well. You might have feared this illness for years because other relatives already had been diagnosed. Maybe you checked for lumps and watched for telltale signs, knowing for certain your turn was next. Or you might have thought, like I did, that you had taken such good care of yourself you would never have to face such a diagnosis.
I’m guessing that neither of our reactions was completely peaceful. I’ve met literally thousands of newly diagnosed cancer patients and I’ve yet to hear one say: “As soon as I heard it was cancer, I felt total peace.” (Go ahead and write me if you said that!)
But even though peace is not a natural response to a life-threatening illness, it can be a supernatural one.
Over the years my dear friend Prudence let me bring hundreds of cancer survivors to her country tearoom for free or really inexpensive tea luncheons (with the world’s best scones and clotted cream). And then endometrial cancer struck her.
“That upset me,” she says. “I didn’t want to have anything inside me that wasn’t supposed to be there.”
But shortly after her surgery, despite the fact no one was guaranteeing a cure, Prudence says she amazingly “was at peace with it.”
“Christ gave me a wonderful release from worrying and obsessing about it,” is her explanation of the unexplainable.
In 1998 when forty-five-year-old Chrystine was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer, she was shocked and afraid she would die because she’d never heard of any survivors in her situation. But as she describes: “God showed up right away.”
As she was heading into surgery, a female anesthesiologist came over to Chrystine’s gurney and started prepping her.
“She told me she had ovarian cancer four years before and I felt such hope that she had survived,” Chrystine recalls.
What’s really incredible is that a few minutes later a male anesthesiologist came over to her gurney and told the other doctor that Chrystine was his patient and he took over her care.
“I went into surgery feeling totally at peace because God sent me hope in the ‘accidental’ meeting of an anesthesiologist who had survived,” Chrystine says.
It is one thing to read the Apostle Paul’s description of “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” It’s quite another thing to see it on the face of cancer patients and their caregivers.
It is a peace that makes no sense.
It is a peace that cannot be explained.
It is a peace that goes beyond our human understanding.
It is a peace that only God can give.
It is a peace I hope you’ll feel today.
I’d like to share with you the rest of the verse from Philippians 4 where Paul writes about this peace because I believe it shows us clearly how to get it.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
We get peace from God when we take our worries to Him in prayer, all the while thanking Him for all our blessings. He replaces our worries with His peace and it is enough to fill our heart and our mind.
Would you allow me the precious privilege of praying for you to feel God’s peace that passes understanding today?
Lord, I have no idea what is troubling my friend today, but You do. By the power of Your Spirit please let Your peace come and settle down on her/his life as she/he trusts in You. In the Name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.
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