“Wow. Cancer. That’s scary. That’s everyone’s worst fear.”
Thanks for saying that. To my face. When you know I have cancer. The guy who said it has a huge heart and didn’t mean to offend. And it really didn’t offend–but it did get me thinking. It seems that everything gets me thinking these days.
Many people can’t even say the word “cancer” when it pertains to someone they love. I’ve had people refer to my “health issues,” my “big trial,” and me “being sick.” Nobody wants to say “Hey, I’m sorry to hear you have cancer!” Fear causes us to dodge and hide, rather than looking the thing in the eye.
Cancer used to be one of my worst fears. It’s one of those things that happens to other people. It shows up in statistics and charts and warning labels, but when it’s applied directly to me, it’s a different thing altogether.
My biggest fear in life is not cancer. It is that my children and grandchildren will not choose Christ. I want for them all that the Christian life holds and promises. I want them to spend eternity in Heaven. I want them to be part of the blessing of living out a testimony for Him and helping usher others into His presence and grace.
My second greatest fear is that my children and grandchildren will experience abusive relationships–worst of all in childhood. Tragically, this fear has been realized in several cases and I have done my best to stand with them and provide what comfort and healing I can. My biggest weapon is prayer, and I can see God working beauty even in the ashes.
After those two, there are things that compete for third place, and cancer is definitely one of them. This, too, has now been realized and become very personal. I’m walking a road that has always been hypothetical and distant. I have become a statistic and will have my place on a chart.
Isn’t it wonderful that cancer doesn’t define me? It’s not who I am, it’s just something I’m dealing with. Fear also doesn’t have to define me. I can see dangers, be aware of pitfalls, and approach them with confidence, knowing that the One who created the universe carries me.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9”
Wherever you go. Wherever I go. The Lord my God is with me–even as I face this fear. Even as I go to see the oncologist. Even as I look ahead to surgery and the loss it will produce. Even as I look ahead to the uncertainties and intimidation of chemotherapy. Even as I watch my family struggle with the fact that their mom has cancer and could leave them. The Lord MY God is with me.
And did you catch the first part of the verse? “Have I not commanded you?” I am commanded to be strong and courageous. I am commanded not to be frightened. I am commanded not to be dismayed (distressed by something unexpected). If I am commanded, that means obedience is expected.
It follows, then, that not to obey is disobedience. This helps me. I am, by nature, a rule follower and a lover of justice. I believe the Bible to be inerrant. I believe God’s promises to be trustworthy. Because of these beliefs, I can stand on this verse (and so many others like it!) that show me that my best and safest path is to trust Him–to choose courage and strength to face this fear head on.
As I sit here contemplating my situation, I see that the fear is always bigger than the thing. When I feared cancer, It was a big and horrific thing. Now that I am living that fear, I can see the path through it. I don’t know how it will all go or how it will end (and fear lurks in that), but I do know that I am not alone, and I know I will have strength to continue putting one foot in front of the other.