Tag Archives: cancer

THE ROD, THE STAFF, AND THE ODDLY PLACED TABLE

[This is the third of fourteen passages that sustained me in the while in the dark.]

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters.

He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me;

Your rod and your staff they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil.

My cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,

and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.   Psalm 23

Almost everyone has heard this Psalm, at least at funerals. During my scariest times in ubiquitous darkness I frantically repeated it over and over in my mind, and sometimes out loud. The most memorable time when the Psalm brought comfort to me was when I was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance with an allergic reaction to a cancer medication. Continue reading

Advertisements

DON’T GIVE UP!

[This is the first of fourteen passages that sustained me in the while in the dark.]
  • James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
  • James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
  • James 5:10-11 Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Early on in my dark place I began to realize that the tunnel I was in was quite possibly interminable. “Divorce” and “cancer” are words with long-term implications to be sure. They don’t get wished away, so I was going to have to learn to endure. This is what the Spirit impressed on me from this passage and several others of this same theme.

Like bookends – at the onset and the end of his letter – James encouraged us to “persevere.” A case could be made that his main theme was perseverance, and everything in between was to tell us how to go about it.

“Persevere! Don’t give up. If you endure, you’re a blessed person. You’ll be like Job, who didn’t cave in when darkness enveloped him, and you’ll see what I intend to ‘finally bring about.’ I’m full of compassion and mercy. I have plenty to spare for you. Don’t give up!” Jesus

How the Bible sustained me in the dark

Your Word is a lamp is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

I was in the hospital umbilically attached to my bag of cancer-killing chemicals on an IV pole, which takes anywhere from thirty minutes to several hours to empty one of those bags into your blood stream. It’s always been my habit to bring a book wherever I go, but even more so since spending three or four lifetimes in hospital waiting rooms, examination areas, and chemo dispensaries (more attractively known as “Infusion Centers”). Another off-and-on habit of mine is to memorize Scripture from sheets of handwritten passages folded to pocket size. Especially during the first year or two of my dark days, the Spirit pointed out a bunch of passages that were spot-on applicable to me. So, in addition to a Bible and other books I was reading, I carried to the hospital and everywhere I went a sheet of these passages to memorize and meditate on. Of all the things the Lord used to sustain me in those years, this practice is among the top five:  God’s personal presence, Bob and Jean, my precious kids, my faithful friends, and the Word. Continue reading

Friends (part two)

Jonathan helped David find strength in God. 1 Samuel 23:16

I love this passage because it tells what friends do. At their own expense they help you find strength in God. They don’t try to give you strength – that would be to put you in their debt. They don’t attempt to be your strength – that would be co-dependent. They help you find God’s strength that you temporarily lost track of. God is your strength – your best friends know this, and they’re glad to remind you of it and help you locate it again. Continue reading

Friends (part one)

“Where’s anyone who cares about me? The world’s lousy, no good. If I’d had my life to live over again, I would’ve done things a little different. I would’ve had more friends.” Ty Cobb

I want to be rich in friends more than rich in just about anything else I can be rich in. Anne Lamott

When I became a black hole of neediness, I was tempted to isolate myself from people, but instead, spurred by grace, I ran toward them. I stayed real close to my pit crew of friends and they pulled into me. For the first time in my life I could contribute absolutely nothing to anyone else. As much as I hate being the sole beneficiary in a relationship, I had to temporarily surrender to it and let my friends out-give me. None of them batted an eye at this new, albeit temporary, arrangement – and that’s because I have great friends. They literally buoyed me when I was sinking. Continue reading

Self-pity is not my friend (part three)

One day I was at Stanford hooked up to the chemo dispenser and across the room from me was a good-looking young man who was attached to a machine that looked similar to mine with his beautiful young wife at his side. As the hours passed the guy kept fainting as he was being treated. Four or five times his wife called for the nurses, who rushed to prop him back up and revive him. Continue reading

Self-pity is not my friend (part two)

I grew up as if I were an only child. My parents were in their 40’s when I was born and my two siblings were nearly twenty years older than me. To show you how sharp I am, it wasn’t until I was in college that I did the math and came to the shrewd deduction that I wasn’t planned (at least not by my parents). I called my mom from the dorm payphone and said, “I figured it out; I was a mistake!”

“No, Honey,” she tenderly replied, “you were a surprise – a bonus.”

Thanks, Mom! Continue reading