It’s been a rough week. I’m coming off one of my more difficult chemo weeks. On the one hand, the nausea was the least it has ever been, but I was worn…physically and emotionally. Usually I turn the tide on Friday, but instead I found myself having to sit and rest in the middle of getting dressed. Every little action was exhausting. I could not believe how my legs burned and shook by the time I got to the top of the stairs. The uncertainty of my situation was taking its toll too. I’m having some stomach/abdominal issues but the oncologist insists on waiting on my scan until 3 full rounds are complete.
Intermixed in my struggle were little nudges from God. I could feel him pushing something to the edge of my consciousness. First, was the reminder of his timing in my situation over the last year. Not a single appointment or procedure has come too soon or too late. Then came numerous scripture references with a building theme, the culmination of which came at 11pm Sunday evening post by a friend:
Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world”
So much of my struggle lies at the root of those two verses. When I first began this journey my faith and hope were impervious. I had read the stats and knew that nary a pathologist would think there was much chance my cancer had not already spread. Yet, I waltzed around telling everyone how I would be calling with my good news. These days, fear and uncertainty are on the verge of getting the best of me. What’s different? That’s what God has been trying to show me all week.
Ephesians 6:10-18 tells us to put on the armor of God…the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).
The belt of truth (his promises) reminds me of the weighted vests some kids wear to help keep them calm and grounded. The shield of faith deflects the harsh pelts of cancer. It is when I take up the sword of his world that I find that peace that goes beyond understanding, however, lately some of it falls on an acrimonious heart. “For I know the plans I have for you…” seems to continuously scroll through my fb newsfeed. My response? “Yeah, sometimes death is his plan.” … how’s that for your encouraging post for the day? But as I read through the Ephesians passage I see something I haven’t seen before, something I have been neglecting: “The helmet of salvation.” With salvation death has lost its sting. How easily we cling to this world, forgetting that death is not the end, but the eternal beginning. The helmet of salvation is the victor’s crown.
My hope has been migrating to this world rather than God. As I have settled back into putting on his armor the past few days, I feel a weight being lifted. No, everything is not all better, but I’m not caught up in the entangling web of negativity that threatens my very wellbeing. I see glimpses of peace that goes beyond understanding. Smiles and lightheartedness come a little easier, and tears flow less freely.
That is one thing both science and Christianity agree on, our attitude and outlook have a tremendous impact on our health. So I am taking back my hope from this world and putting it back where it belongs. Back in the one who wears the victor’s crown.
After writing this, Matt Maher’s song, Lord I Need You, came on and it is amazing how well it fit, especially:
Teach my song to rise to You When temptation comes my way And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You Jesus, You’re my hope and stay
Every day, every hour…my one defense, Lord, I need you.
(The post below goes with this one….it is something I wrote last year after my recovery and is a good reminder of his faithfulness….)