Friday, December 30, 2011

Week of December 31 - January 6

December 31

… that he has shown them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
     Isaiah 63:7c

Today, on this last day of this year, we continue to recall how generous God is to us. As we look back on the year and all that’s happened to us, there will surely be many mixed feelings. Certainly, we have had struggles and fears; we have had heartache and pain. But just as certainly we have been touched with rest and relief; as well as moments of joy and comfort, too. While it’s easy to focus on what has gone wrong, we must refocus on what has gone right. God has joined us and is accompanying us on this journey. God understands our distress and God is bringing help in every moment of need. Look back and you will see this to be evident and true. This is cause for celebration and relief.

As this year closes and another is about to begin, I resolve not to focus just on what has been hard for me. Instead I am finding encouragement and hope in recounting all that has blessed and uplifted me this year. There are more blessings than I can say. Thank you, O God. Amen.

January 1

… and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.
     Revelation 21:3b,4

On this first day of this new year we are given the centuries-old hope that indeed God is with us. We are reminded once again that God is with us to help take away our reasons for sadness and disappointment. We are reminded that death need not destroy us nor be the last word for us. We are reminded that no longer will grief consume us or lament and hurt be part of our lives. On this new day in this new year we are promised that all these things can be put behind us once and for all. These are words of triumph. These are words to bring us infinite hope today.

O God of new life, I come to you with great hope and expectation today for what this new year will bring. I pray with a vision of your great promises on my heart and in my mind. Amen.

January 2

For he has said, "Surely they are my people, children who will not deal falsely"; and he became their savior in all their distress.
     Isaiah 63:8

We all want to belong. We all want to know that we are valued, included and loved. We need the reassurance of belonging; it is a basic human requirement. Knowing we belong means knowing that we are cared for. It means knowing that others have compassion on our needs. It means knowing that we are not alone in our circumstances and distress. That wonderful knowledge is extremely powerful for us. It reminds us that we are never without help, never forced to face disease, disappointment or danger by ourselves. It means, above all, that God is always with us, always helping us and always reaching out to us – even when we do not realize it. This is wonderful news. This we must remember every day.

While there are many times when I feel as if no one understands or cares, ultimately I come back to the knowledge that you care and that you understand what I need. Dear Lord, I am glad that I belong to you and that you so deeply love me. Amen. 

January 3

It was no messenger or angel but his presence that saved them, in his love and in his pity he redeemed them.
     Isaiah 63:9

Ultimately, it is God who supplies us with everything we need. It is God who knows us infinitely better than anyone else. It is God who knows us far more intimately than we know ourselves. It is God who created us in a divine image. Because of God’s creation of us and God’s thorough knowledge of us, God’s love for us is profound and deep. In that love God desires nothing bad or harmful for us. God’s love compels God to only offer us hope, forgiveness, grace and peace. It is this knowledge that can inspire us on the journey with cancer. Because when the days get difficult and rough, we can find confidence in the assurance that God is working out a better way for us.

I know that when I have had troubled days in the past, you, dear God, have carried me through them. You have always shown me a way out of my distress. I am deeply grateful for that and I will remember that in days to come. Amen.

January 4

For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven: …
     Ecclesiastes 3:1

God has ordered this world and the life within it with natural rhythms and cycles, with beginnings and endings, that are time-honored and enduring. All too often our human inclination is to try to reorder those rhythms to suit our self-appointed desires. We are not good at waiting when we should. We are too quick to break into cycles, disrupting and subverting them. We are too slow to recognize the rhythms we should let play out and too slow to understand when we need to act in concert with them. In our journey toward healing we need to take time for discernment about what we can change and what we cannot. We need to become more sensitive to the natural order that God has established for our health and our well-being.

Dear God, one of the hardest things for me to do is to recognize when I need to act and when I need to step back and wait. Help me to know when I am getting in the way of your timing and seasons. I know that when I do understand your rhythms everything goes so much better. Amen. 

January 5

… a time to be born and a time to die; …
     Ecclesiastes 3:2a

Part of the healing journey is acknowledging the end of things that no longer serve us well. In all aspects of our lives there are natural and necessary beginnings and endings. It is vitally important as you live with cancer to take stock of what is positive and working in your life and also what is not. Perhaps some aspect of your medical care no longer serves you well. Perhaps your long established diet is not healthy. Maybe your exercise habits need re-energizing. Possibly certain cherished attitudes and opinions need to change. At times some relationships may need to be put on hold or even ended. Also, new ways of finding spiritual connection may need to be cultivated. Not everything on this earth lasts forever. To achieve authentic healing we need to assess what is vital and what is not.

Eternal God, your love and grace never end. Help me to know when things in my life are not based on your will for me. Help me to have the courage to make the changes I need to make so that my healing can be real. Amen. 

January 6

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
     Isaiah 60:1

The reminders are constant. They are woven through every book in the scriptures. Without fail we are reminded that God loves us. We are assured that God looks upon us with favor. The good news is told that God has created us for joy, for blessing and for peace. This message is especially important to remember when we are in the midst of disease and pain. It is essential to recall when we are struggling with our own survival. In the dark moments of our distress, we desperately need the confidence and certainty that come from knowing we have God looking only for our greatest good and perfect healing in every way. This we must not forget.
God of goodness and healing, in my impatience and anxiety I quickly forget the reassuring words proclaiming your love. In your devotion you show me over and over again how much you care and are doing to give me new and abundant life. Thank you. Amen.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Week of December 24 - 30

December 24

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all your people…
     Luke 2:10

The diagnosis of a serious disease like cancer will certainly take most of us aback. It’s shocking news none of us ever wants to hear. But we do not need to be afraid of the news. While our lives will definitely change because of it, the changes do not all have to be negative or bad. In fact, if we place our trust in God, who is the author of all hope and the source of all healing, we can find great comfort, strength and peace. This is good news. We are deeply loved by God. And God does not want any of us to be broken down by disease. God wants only for us to find restoration and renewed life. In this we have nothing to fear.

God of new life, I pray for renewal today. My prayer is to put aside all my fears, to have new confidence and hope, and to believe with assurance that I am held tightly in your loving, healing hands. Amen.

December 25

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
     John 1:5

Today we are reminded that there is always light to brighten our darkness. Today we are reminded there is always hope to encourage us to discover a better day. Today we are reminded there is always a way to find relief from everything that overwhelms us. Today we are reminded that God is indeed always with us, providing the answers we need just when we need them. Today is a day to celebrate the light that shines just for us, a light sent by a loving, compassionate and caring God who only wants what is best for us. Today is a day to look into the darkness that invades our lives – whatever disease or fears or threats – to remember and declare that we will not be overcome by any of it, ever again.

Today I thank you, generous God, for the warm and generous light of your goodness and love. Your goodness encourages me. Your love carries me through. You give me gifts beyond compare. Amen. 

December 26

Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one look down on you.
     Titus 2:15

Do not ever forget that you are the leader on your healing journey. Remember that this is your life, that it’s your well-being and that it’s your future you are working for. Always know that you have the right and the responsibility to set the agenda and direct the path on which you want to travel. While all the others who love you, support you and care for you have a role and a vital interest in the course of your journey, you are the most important person on it. Let your voice be heard. Let your feelings be known. Let your needs be shared. You know what you need better than anyone else. Don’t forget that. Now more than ever you need to acknowledge what gives you strength and joy.

Under gird me with your power, O God, and build me up with your grace. I need a confident presence today. I need you, who knows me best, to give me understanding and wisdom to establish a healing way. Amen.

December 27

I will recount the gracious deeds of the Lord, the praiseworthy acts of the Lord, because of all the Lord has done for us, …
     Isaiah 63:7a,b

Once again we are called from days of old to remember the goodness that God has done for us. We are encouraged to be ever mindful of the blessings God has given us day after day. It is so easy, when we are dealing with cancer, to get caught up entirely in seeing what is wrong and in recalling all that is challenging us. But when we do, we only find ourselves trapped in a downward cycle of frustration and negativity. Today it is vital that we renew our commitment to remembering and recounting the endless gifts with which God graces our daily lives.

I know that when I begin to name the ways in which you help and carry me, dear God, I realize the list actually never ends. Just to be reminded of your endless gifts is the first blessing on my list. Thank you for being so good to me every day. Amen.

December 28

… for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
           Psalm 6:8b

There is also no doubt that there are many times when it seems as if God isn’t listening, doesn’t care or won’t act on our behalf.  When we are in pain it is often difficult to see past the anguish to know there will be relief.  But we can be reassured today beyond any shadow of doubt that God does hear us when we are in distress.  We can be certain that God is listening to our fears, understands our worries and is already at work to help soothe them – before we know to ask.  Even in our darkest hours, when hope is fragile and confidence is lost, the one defining truth is that God knows us intimately, loves us unconditionally and reaches out to comfort us completely.  Our faith reminds us continually of that.

You know just how often I waver in my faith, O God.  You know how much I falter in my trust.  You know how many times I doubt your care.  So remind me today, that your love and concern is deep and real.  Amen.  

December 29

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.
     Romans 12:2

The world around us often brings us news that is both pessimistic and bad.  So many times the prevailing wisdom is cynical and lacks a promising hope.  Conventional thinking frequently limits our options and neither encourages nor uplifts us.   Always on this journey, we must look beyond this world’s limited vision to see instead the vision that God wants us to see.  God is not defined by negativity and limitation.  God does not conform to human cynicism or convention.  God instead has different ideas.  And it is to God that we need to turn – for understanding, for guidance, for discernment, for strength and for a better way beyond our current circumstances.  The answers of this world alone will limit us.  But the answers from God will set us free.I need to move beyond any thinking that pulls me down or keeps me from realizing all the hope and promise you have created for me.  

Dear God, I’m calling on you to help me see things your way, a way of possibility, of healing and of peace.  Amen. 

December 30

If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
     Romans 12:18

As another year comes to a close, it is a good time to resolve to let lingering animosities, bitter feelings and festering resentments end with it.  We don’t need them weighing us down, distracting us from the work of creating wellness and staying well.  The burdens of the heart and mind that we hold onto only hinder our healing and survival.  They serve no discernable good, but drain us of the energy we need, to grow in health with each new day.  As this year and all its challenges and frustrations begin to move behind us, make it a matter of course for the new year ahead to find a way to make peace where there is tension.  The journey will be incredibly smoother and better when we do.

Dear God, I say it all the time, letting go of the hurt that has been placed upon me is the hardest thing I have to do.  But I know I need to do it for my own well-being and peace of mind.   Help me today, help me tomorrow, help me with every day ahead to do what you have already done for  me – forgive.  Amen.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

Week of December 16 - 23

December 17

Your gates shall always be open; day and night they shall not be shut …
     Isaiah 60:11

Long ago, there were those who instinctively understood that God never abandons or forgets about us. Long ago, wise and faithful people grasped that God is always attentive and always listens to our needs. Long ago, they spoke about God’s tireless faithfulness and endless patience with our disbelief. Long ago they wrote these words so that all of us today could be reminded, when we are apt that to forget, that we are never kept at a distance from God, that God always has our lives and needs intimately at hand. When we are inclined to question and doubt if God really cares, these words serve to call us back to the One who is always here even when we are uncertain.

I know that I close my eyes and ears and mind and heart to you, too often, O God. I know that it does me no good when I do. Today I strive to live more confidently in your help and in your grace. Amen. 

December 18

…"What is impossible for mortals is possible for God."
     Luke 18:27

In our humanness we give up all too easily. With our limited understandings and our finite vision we fail to see what God can see. Our shortsightedness causes us to give in to despair, to settle for flawed reasoning and to chase after uncertain answers. It causes us too often to devise our own solutions without waiting for God to show us a better way. Cancer is a frightening thing for all of us. For many of us it pushes us to think there is no hope, no way out, no good ending. But that is impossibility thinking. God is able to show us more. God’s possibilities can get us thinking with greater hope and broader perspectives. Remember that God opens us up to so much more than anything we can think of on our own.

God of limitless understandings, show me today a broader glimpse of your vision for my journey. When I try to look ahead on my own I can quickly get discouraged. But I know you will help me to see beyond my present troubles to a better day. Amen. 

December 19

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence - …
     Isaiah 64:1

Why doesn’t God just enter this world of disease and distress and clean it all up for us? Why can’t God just assert divine power and take care of the problems and poverty of spirit we have? Why won’t God just declare enough is enough and put an end to all our suffering and pain? Why? The litany could go on and on. Where is God in this world of despair and disappointment? We often look for the dramatic event, the earth shattering blow that will change it all in an instant. But God usually works more quietly, more subtlety … and more constantly … than that. When we actually stop to look at what God is doing, we will see that God is already with us, shaking the foundations of the earth with healing and power and hope.

You are a constant presence in times of trouble, dear Lord, acting without fail to give us all that we need. Help me to look not just for the big, spectacular event, but also for the continuous healing you are offering every moment of every day. Amen.

December 20

Let anyone with ears listen!
     Matthew 11:15

Listening is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. We need to: listen to our bodies - it can speak volumes about what we need;
listen to our minds - it will help us to sort out the issues and areas where we need clarity and direction;
listen to our hearts - it will reveal feelings and hopes that can guide us in the directions we need to go.
above all, listen to our spirits - it contains the voice of God who is whispering words of love and peace to encourage us endlessly.
The way to finding authentic healing requires a willingness to listen – and then to respond to all we hear.

I find it incredibly hard at times to listen to myself and even harder to know when you are speaking to me, dear God. But in this season of darkness, I need to listen more than ever before. Help me to have the discipline to listen to everything I need to hear. Amen. 

December 21

Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong and do not fear!...
     Isaiah 35:4a

It’s easy to feel strong when things are going our way. It’s easy to be confident when there is little to threaten or challenge us. But when we hear the words - It’s cancer - fear can suddenly debilitate us and strength can immediately abandon us. Then our hearts can lose hope and our lives are turned upside down. Yet we are encouraged to remember that God knows infinitely more than we do. God sees more than we can see. God understands more than we can ever comprehend. We are reassured that a bigger picture, a larger plan, is at work. And God is in charge. So if God is in charge, and God loves us, God will work through us to give us everything we need.

Fear gets in my way so much of the time. It paralyzes me, dear God, and throws too much uncertainty my way. I need to be confident. I need to be strong. I know you are helping me to be those things and I thank you. Amen. 

December 22

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
     Isaiah 35:5

There are days when we wonder if we will ever understand what is happening to us. There are times when we have serious doubts about whether or not we will ever really know when God is speaking to us and showing us the direction we need to go. As we go through our lives, and especially our lives with cancer, we often have more doubts and uncertain moments than we can number. Yet today we are reminded that our uncertainty shall not last. Today we are promised that our doubting will not linger. Today we can know that we will have the ability to see all we need to perceive and hear all we need to regard. Today we must trust that in God’s time it will happen.

My patience is usually not strong enough to wait, O God. I don’t listen as I should. I don’t see as I could. So today, help me to remember that you promise to show me and tell me all I will need. Amen.

December 23

…they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
     Isaiah 35:10c

There will come a day when all the fear and worry and anxiety can be put behind us. On that day, we are promised, we will experience wonderful elation and tremendous delight. On that day we will no longer posses a mournful spirit or a groaning, weary heart. What a day that will be. So why can’t that day start today? Well, it can. Right now, today, even as we live with disease, we can still experience joy – a feeling of well-being no matter what is going on around us. We can be glad - finding gratitude and goodness even as bad things confront us. We do not have to allow sadness and heartache to linger. Today we can act to change our outlook and our reactions. Today our world can be better simply because we resolve it to be.

Today, gracious Lord, my attitudes and my understandings will change. Today, with your help, I will modify the way I view my circumstances and things will begin to be more positive and hopeful. Amen.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Week of December 10 - 16

December 10

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.
     Psalm 5:3
How have you started this new day? Are you beginning with an attitude of dread and regret? Are you looking ahead to the challenges before you with anxiety and fear? Are you looking back on yesterday with disappointment and discontent? With what attitude are you facing this date in your life? Do you assume you must face the road alone, without help or support, relying on your uncertain knowledge and strength? Or do you look at this day as an opportunity to put your trust in the certainty of God’s loving, caring hands, hands that are reaching out to you?

Before I try to go on one minute more on just my own power, I know I must look to you and your power to find the lasting help I need. You are a blessing to me and I need you more and more each day. And in my need I find I am more and more blessed each day. Thank you, O God. Amen.

December 11

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
     Matthew 5:9
Peace and healing are closely related. To establish peace we must mend the brokenness in and around us. To maintain peace we must create the conditions that foster a continuing healthy environment. To find healing we must create an atmosphere of peace in all parts of our lives. Within our minds, throughout our bodies and by our spirits, we need to foster a deepening sense of contentment and fulfillment. When we do we transform our circumstances and our pathway. We set ourselves on a better path, the more positive path we need.

The peace I most need, O God, is peace within my own soul. Help me to find the very real satisfaction I am looking for. When I do I know I will be on a brighter journey of healing and hope. Amen. 

December 12

I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
     Psalm 7:17
Cancer survivors understand that gratitude is at the very heart of creating an atmosphere of healing. Survivors know that it is essential to be in the right state of mind to focus on hope for the journey. They believe that living thankfully and appreciatively is a profound requirement for achieving the state of well-being they seek. Being mindful of the need to find goodness and count blessings is ever-present in a survivor’s life. They focus on what is right and what is good, what is positive and what is eternal. They look beyond temporary setbacks to seek evidence of lasting answers and help. When they do they find the evidence they need.

The more I look for the blessings you give me, dear God, the more I see signs and wonders of your amazing love. Every time I realize one good thing you do, I come to recognize there are so many more good things than I never knew before. Thank you for compounding the blessings in my life. Amen. 

December 13

We grope like the blind along a wall, groping like those who have no eyes; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, among the vigorous as though we were dead.
     Isaiah 59:10
When we attempt to make this journey on our own, we just cannot do it well. We have been created by a loving God who does not want us to carry the burdens all alone. God desperately wants us to rely on divine power to help us with those things that are too hard, too complicated or too vast for us to understand. We have not been created to be perfect or strong all the time. We do not know all the secrets of the universe, nor do we need to. God is big enough to handle everything we cannot. When we begin to understand and accept that – and to rely on God’s power for the things we are unable to do, we become free to enjoy the benefits of God’s guidance and the strength of God’s arms to carry us through.

All knowing God, in my ignorance and willfulness I try to do more than I am able to do on my own. But it only gets me in trouble and keeps me from being my best. I know you are here to help me. And today I know I need to trust more in you. Amen. 

December 14

… "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword."
     Matthew 26:52
If our reaction to cancer or to trouble of any kind is to hold on to anger and to react with resentment and bitterness, we will reap much of the same in return. If we create an atmosphere of negativity and despair we will surely find negativity and despair filling our lives. But, if we choose – and it is a choice – to look at our challenges as opportunities to change, to learn and to rise above them, we can accomplish amazing things. Our lives and health can be transformed when we decide to create an atmosphere of joy, gratitude and well-being instead. We have been given the power to choose. What will your choice be?

Thank you, gracious God, for putting within me the power to live a life of thanksgiving and wonder. Thank you for allowing me to choose and for showing me how to choose what is good and best. Today I look for your wisdom to show me how to make the right choices for my life. Amen.

December 15

We all growl like bears; like doves we moan mournfully. We wait for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.           
     Isaiah 59:11
Our complaints are many and varied. We seldom find contentment and peace with our circumstances and situations, especially when we’re sick. We are slow to see what is good and quick to list what we view as wrong. It’s been like that since the beginning of human time. But God is gracious toward us. And God understands us, because God has made us. In God’s intimate knowledge of our minds and hearts, God certainly understands our reasons for doubt and despair. And that is exactly why God takes care of us when we cannot see how to care for ourselves. While we are quick to grumble and complain, God is even quicker to begin to meet our needs before we even know what they are.

I am so grateful you understand my restless mind, patient God. When I get into a place where I fail to see how you are at work, you continue to work for my well-being – in spite of me. And I find immense comfort in that. Amen. 

December 16

One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, "Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people."
     Acts 18:9-10
We may be utterly surprised how often God speaks to us to reassure us that on this journey we are protected and guided. But too often we listen and look for God in some grand way, when God is speaking and working through different ways. We easily overlook the quiet, gentle voice of God as it speaks to us of hope, help and healing. God’s voice seldom comes through in thunderous and outwardly dramatic ways, But it comes most often in a caring touch from a friend, in a word of comfort from a doctor, in a prayer from an understanding neighbor or in a forgiving gesture from someone who loves us. God is working in more ways than we can begin to know or count. God is working through many others, even those we do not know.

How easy it is to overlook the subtle and yet obvious work you are doing for me, dear God. I miss it by forgetting how you often act – in gentle gestures, thorough countless others, in infinite ways. Today I will remember. Amen.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Week of December 3 - 9

December 3

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
     Matthew 5:8

Our search for God is often clouded by our limitations and distractions. In our longing for survival we are sometimes quick to seek help and hope in quests that are ultimately in vain. We look for God’s presence in places that are not of God. We listen for God’s voice with a predetermined idea of what God will say. Our expectations are often narrower and smaller than any of God’s. But when we look and listen with no preconceived ideas, with no restrictions or preconditions, our openness will finally allow God to be let in. It is our willingness to allow God to be the God of unlimited possibilities that will ultimately bring us joy and healing.

Today as I seek you, dear Lord, I ask for the courage to be open to all your answers and desires for me. Help me not to seek my healing in ways that are not your will for me. Amen.

December 4

Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
     Psalm 4:1c

We all want to be heard. Each of us has a story to tell and we need to know that others care enough to listen. We especially need to know that God cares and that God listens to our deepest thoughts and feelings. Others may not comprehend what we are feeling or going through. But we certainly hope God does and always will. Especially in times of disease and distress, knowing that God hears even what we cannot express in words, can mean the world to us. Our human nature longs for understanding. These words reflect that desire in our souls.

Caring God, I know you listen to me when no others are able. I know you hear my voice when no others can. I know you understand how I feel when no others can begin to. My gratitude is deep for you, for this, today. Amen.

December 5

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power.
     Ephesians 6:10

Trust. Confidence. Resolve. Hope. A positive vision. These things are of God. They give us strength. They empower us. They supply us with the courage to face the uncertain future before us. We need each of these things to help us react to all that lies ahead with a healthy attitude and with grace. The gifts we need for healing, like these, all come from the One who is an endless source of support and sustenance for us. We do not have to travel on this road alone, left to our own limited knowledge and skills. But we can certainly rely on God to supply us with every gift necessary to find exactly what we need.

I can’t do this alone, O Lord. I need your power to help me find my way. Don’t let me try to find healing without you. Remind me of my own limitations and of your infinite care and love. Amen.

December 6

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.
     Psalm 3:3

When we come to rely on God to lift the burdens from us and chart the way for us it is amazing how much more empowered we can feel. When we realize that this is not a journey we can make on our own, it is incredible how much less weighed down we will feel. The raging storms of disease that buffet us have far less power to control us when we allow God to control the response to the threat. Our own solitary responses are not nearly adequate to know the entire depth and scope of our needs. Neither are they enough to comprehend the height and width of the possibilities there exists for our healing. Today we must look to God more and more to direct our reaction to life’s threats. Today we must open our minds to greater possibilities than we have ever known before.

I try too often to manage this disease on my own understandings. Or I give too much power to others who don’t know all the answers either. Give me a clear mind to see the larger picture you would like me to appreciate and see, O God. Amen.

December 7

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
     Matthew 5:7

The spirit with which we approach life has a tremendous impact on what we receive from life. Too often we react to complicated challenges and difficult people with resignation and frustration. In return we are often overwhelmed and feeling negative. But if we look at our circumstances with a spirit of compassion, kindness, forgiveness and understanding, we will find ourselves receiving much of the same in return. Our task is to approach everything confronting us with this spirit. The result will have a great positive impact on our daily lives, greater than we can fully know.

God of mercy, you look upon me with deep sympathy and care. You love me even when I am unlovable. I pray to learn from your benevolence and to grow in your grace and mercy today. Amen.

December 8

There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”
     Psalm 4:6

Sometimes, when we ourselves doubt whether God is reaching out to us in our distress, there are others who encourage us. Sometimes, when the seeds of uncertainty are planted and we question our course and our direction, others can remind us of God’s care. Sometimes, when we are too close to our problems and fears to clearly see the way before us, others can help us to know more of the story and see the larger picture. When our own fears undermine our confidence and erode our assurance, the support of others, who remind us that God is in our midst, can give us the hopeful perspective we need.

O God, I thank you for those in my life who can see you at work when I just can’t. Help me to recognize their confidence in your actions and to follow their lead back to you. Amen.

December 9

…I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint.
     Habakkuk 2:1b

Waiting to discern God’s answers to our prayers has always been hard for people to do. We wonder if God is really listening or if God really cares. Especially when things are going wrong and we grumble and criticize, we wait impatiently and often lose hope. This passage assumes God is listening and will answer. While assuming in any other way is dangerous and foolish, assuming that God will answer us is not. God will answer, no matter how difficult the request or how harsh the complaint. This passage conveys that promise. It asserts with confidence that all we need to do is ask and look – and God’s response will be revealed in just the way we need.

I have many doubts about whether you care or not, O God. On a regular basis I think you do not listen to my concerns. Yet on a regular basis you reveal to me over and over again that you do answer me. Remind my doubting heart of that again and again today. Amen.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Week of November 26 - December 2

November 26

My soul is also struck with terror, while you, O Lord -- how long?
     Psalm 6:3

How much longer do I have to endure this? How much more do I have to put up with the fear? How much time do I have to give to a disease that I never wanted in the first place? Does the rest of my life have to be spent wondering…worrying…waiting? The days when my troubles seemed so much easier to manage seem so far away, so long gone. Will the terror that keeps cropping up inside me always remain? Is God listening to my fear? Does God really know what I am going through? Does God really care?

Answer me, today, O God, answer me and take away my anxiety. Take away my apprehension. Take away my concern. Take my disquietedness from me. You are the One who can help me, the One who can give me the vision I need for better days. Amen.

November 27

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.
     James 1:22

We must each take an active, positive leading role in our own healing and health. No one else can do that for us. Others can support. They can help. They can pray. They can encourage. But each of us has the right and the responsibility to take the lead in creating the conditions upon which our renewed life, energy and attitudes are based. No other person knows us better than we do ourselves. No one can create for us our inner strength and peace. Only we can do that – along with God – for our own well-being. Today, resolve to act in one more meaningful way. Create a better atmosphere for healing than you have ever created before. The difference it makes will help transform your life.

I need courage. I need faith. I need guidance. I need help, O Lord. This is the day you have made – a day for me to receive a wonderfully transforming spirit from you. Amen.

November 28

You came forth to save your people, to save your anointed.
     Habakkuk 3:13a

Some of the most reassuring words of encouragement for the journey come from the people thousands of years ago who felt deeply separated from God. Those who struggled deeply, doubted continuously and cried out in distress loudly have written some of the world’s most passionate declarations of hope and restoration when they realized that God was with them through every danger, every toil and every snare. Even though there were many times when they questioned God’s inaction, the scriptures tell us time and again how they realized God was more involved and more faithful than they ever imagined. Their understanding of that kept them going. The same understanding can keep you going too.

God of my good times, God of my bad times, I know you are with me through them all. I know how you never abandon me or let me walk this path alone. Even when I don’t see you, I am reminded that you are always here. Thank you for being so constant. Amen.

November 29

Deliverance belongs to the Lord, may your blessings be on your people!
     Psalm 3:8

We must never forget that our greatest hope comes from God. The one who created us and knows us better than we know ourselves is the one who can give us all that we need. God understands what is on our minds. God understands what is held deeply in our hearts. God understands what our bodies require. God understands what our spirits need. In this intimate understanding God guides us toward the healing power we need. Indeed, God does bless us with the means to find deliverance from all that distresses us and all that threatens our strength and well-being.

Thanks be to you, O God, for your great understanding of my needs. You know me better than I know myself. So I turn to you and listen for your voice, the voice that speaks of your healing ways. Amen.

November 30

‘He will command his angels concerning you’, and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’
     Matthew 4:6b

God is with us every moment as we make our way through this life. That includes the present journey we are on with cancer. God is with us inside our hearts and minds. God’s spirit surrounds us everywhere we go. God provides loving and caring people to support, help and encourage us in countless ways. Our greatest hope is in remembering that we never need to go through this journey alone. In more ways and through more people than we can ever really know, God works out a purpose for us and offers us everything we need. Our simple task is to open ourselves up to hearing God and discerning God’s grace in our need and God’s will for our lives.

I know you send angels of mercy, angels of comfort, angels of healing and angels of encouragement to me constantly, loving God. I know you are reaching out to help and protect me in ways I can never fully appreciate. And I am grateful to you as I am reminded of this protection and grace today. Amen.

December 1

Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
     Psalm 4:1a

In so many of our lives today, when we phone others we get busy signals. Or we quickly get put on hold. Or our calls are screened. Or we must navigate through a dozen messages in order to reach who we need. Or we have to leave a message that never gets returned. It’s especially frustrating when we are seeking answers that directly impact on our health and lives. In our desperation and anxiety we want to reach the ones who can help us without complication or delay. But with God it is not complicated. With God there is no delay. Because God is already at work even before we ask or know what to ask. God is the One whose line is always open, who never screens us and who is never too busy to hear.

I remember that you are always listening, even when I am not calling to you. Your ear is already waiting for my voice. Your hands are already creating a solution for me. Thank you for always being ready for me, O God. Amen.

December 2

O Lord, I have heard of your renown, and I stand in awe, O Lord, of your work.
     Habakkuk 3:2a,b

When we think about it - really pause to think about it - we can begin to see how very much God is working out good things in our lives. But we cannot just take them for granted. We must purposefully and intentionally make time to see and know just what God is doing for us. When we do we will be amazed. When we do we will be transformed. When we do we will see our lives becoming more positive, more joyful and more healthy. The more we understand how God is involved in bringing healing to our lives the more we will grow in gratitude and appreciation. The more grateful and appreciative we become, the more we will view life through God’s eyes. It is through God’s eyes that we will grow more assured of our direction and our purpose.

I can scarcely comprehend all you do for me, generous God. But each time I glimpse more of your goodness on my behalf, I am amazed at how intimately you care for me. I stand ready to become even more amazed today as I continue to look and to see how wonderful you truly are. Amen.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Week of November 19 - 25

November 19
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there
was light.
     Genesis 1:3

God does not desire for us to live in fear or
uncertainty. Cancer can surely cause us to fall into
the depths of darkness and despair. But God’s will
for us is to shine a light on our path, illuminating
our way. With God we do not have to stumble or
wander aimlessly, not knowing in which direction to
go. With God we are given hope and the grace to
find our way with resolve and confidence. With God
we can meet each day, each challenge and each
detour with the assurance that we are never alone
and are always given a light to guide us to where
we need to be.

When darkness overtakes me, O Lord, I call to you for help
and reassurance. Shine your warming, redirecting light as
a beacon for my way. Amen.

November 20
And I will grant peace in the land, and you shall
lie down, and no one shall make you afraid; I
will remove dangerous animals from the land,
and no sword shall go through your land.
     Leviticus 26:6

Throughout the scriptures it is repeated again
and again – God desires to save us from the
destructive, dangerous and difficult forces within
and around us. God’s only desire is for us to find
peace, to reside without fear, to protect us from
harm and to keep us from division. When disease
threatens us with pain and peril, we need to
remember God’s promises. God wants neither for
us to suffer nor for us to live in hopelessness and
despair. God plans only for our well-being and our
relief. Claim those promises today. Live believing
they are for you.

O God our help in ages past and our hope in days to come,
I place my life in your hands, trusting in your overwhelming
love to carry me through. Amen.

November 21
“Whatever you ask in prayer with faith, you will
     Matthew 21:22

If we want something to work for us the first and
most essential step is to believe it will work. If we
believe that establishing a connection with God
through prayer can give us strength, guidance
and vision, it surely will. As we put our trust in
the power of God to show us a better way, we will
surely find a better way to face the challenges that
confront us. Connecting with the power of eternity
that God gives us helps us profoundly to see
answers we could never see on our own. Believing
that God has only the best in mind for us will
encourage and energize us beyond imagination.
Putting our trust in a divine authority will enable us
to discover renewed hope for each new day.

In confidence I reach out to you, Lord, to show me the
direction you want me to go. I know you want only the
best for my life. I look to you in faith today to help me
understand what all that means for me. Amen.

November 22
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or what you will drink, or about
your body, what you will wear. Is not life more
than food, and the body more than clothing?
     Matthew 6:25

There are at least two very important lessons here.
The first is that worry does us no good. Worry
indicates a lack of trust in God’s care for us and a
lack of confidence in our own ability to create an
atmosphere of healing. The second is that to create
an atmosphere of healing we need to be aware of
more than just our physical condition. Survivors
understand that all the aspects of our nature –
mental, emotional, spiritual, as well - must align
together to produce the conditions for strength to
build, for energy to return and for health to restore.
We cannot find authentic healing without that
integration. God has created us that way.

In my darker moments I allow my fears to get the best of
me. When I do, O God, I realize I need to regain my trust in
myself and in you. Help me to use all the gifts you’ve given
me to heal. Amen.

November 23
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow
nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your
heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of
more value than they?
       Matthew 6:26

Realizing our significance in God’s eyes is an
important part of creating the best conditions for
healing. Understanding our valued place in God’s
kingdom is one of the most vital gifts we can give
ourselves. Knowing how much God wants us
to believe we are created in a divine image can
change our outlooks in many positive ways. When
we comprehend how much God loves us and wants
to help us, our lives are renewed and transformed.
We are changed for the better when we believe
inherently that God cares for us deeply and that
God’s only will is for us to have only the best of life
and love.

My value in your eyes is ultimately impossible for me to
understand, dear Lord. The love you have for me is far
more deep and strong than I can ever know. But as I grow
more aware, I thank you for the way it gives me hope and
new life. Amen.

November 24
But if God so clothes the grass of the field,
which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown
into the oven, will he not much more clothe you
– you of little faith?
     Matthew 6:30

The scriptures remind us that we are God’s most
intricate and loved creations. We are even more
special and beautiful in God’s mind than all the
majestic mountains, all the vast seas, all the
splendid vistas and all the galaxies of the heavens.
The wonder of creation is incredibly complex. Yet
we are even more wonderful in the eyes of God.
So why do we forget? Why do we worry and
panic over what could come? Why do we lose
today’s promise over what we fear might happen
tomorrow? We forget God’s deeply expressed
grace and love. Remember - God doesn’t forget
us. God doesn’t abandon us. God is working to
give us all the help and guidance we need. Always.

Faithful God, I’m sorry when I don’t remember your help for
me yesterday or your promise for me tomorrow, much less
your blessings for me right now, today. But I want today to
be different. I need the faith to know you care. Amen.

November 25
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with
     Psalm 6:2b

There are days when we have to admit we are
unbearably afraid. Deep down in our souls we feel
utterly alone, agonizingly uncertain and frighteningly
ready to give up. On those days, when we have
nothing else left, we need to cry out to God. We
need to pour out our fears openly and completely.
God understands. God cares how we feel. When
no other voice will calm us, when no other touch
will comfort us, God’s love for us is the one thing
strong enough to lift us from our despair. This love
is the best gift we have to get through our darkest
moments. It will never abandon us.

I can’t even begin to express what I’m going through some
days. O God, even when I don’t know how to say how
afraid I feel I am so grateful I can just call to you. You know
just what I need. You know just what I feel. You know me
better than I know myself. Amen.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Week of November 12 - 18

November 12
Look at the nations, and see! Be astonished! Be astounded! For a work is being done in your days that you would not believe if you were told. 
     Habakkuk 1:5
Even when we stop to look and see what God is doing in our lives we can scarcely begin to comprehend all that is taking place. God’s care for us is so deep. God’s love for us is so unconditional. God’s grace for us is so constant. God’s desire for our healing is so strong. But when we make it a practice to mindfully recount the care, love and grace we receive on a daily basis, we begin to heal – emotionally, mentally and spiritually, which only promotes our physical healing. While in this life we can never fully know God’s awesome power, we can certainly catch glimpses. And those glimpses can inspire us to see wonders and possibilities that we’ve never seen before.
Every time I stop to look at your work on my behalf I am amazed. O Lord, I can barely name what you do for me. I can rarely express how generous you are. I pray my wordlessness can still speak my gratitude for you. Amen.

November 13
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
     Colossians 3:12

We have a choice. We can affect a demeanor that is angry, bitter, distrusting, cynical, arrogant or selfish. But that choice will not give us abiding peace. It will not bring us satisfying love. It will not generate hope. It is not a choice that promotes healing. The other choice is laid out for us in the passage above. It is the better choice, the choice that creates the fertile atmosphere in which health is renewed and restored. Look at your attitude and ask yourself about the atmosphere you have created around you. Is it rich and nourishing or is it depleting and empty? You have the choice to make it positive and joyful in countless ways.
The more I place my mind and actions in your care, the more I feel your presence and power, O God. My prayer today is to remember how you act toward me. It is a balm that soothes and uplifts my soul. I hope it is reflected in my daily life. Amen.

November 14
I am weary with my moaning;…
     Psalm 6:6a

There is no doubt that some days just simply take everything out of us. On those days there is nothing good to say, nothing to look forward to, nothing to hope for. Those days get awfully tiring. They drain us of our energy and often of our hope. When days like those multiply without much or any relief, our discouragement and doubt multiply too. Sometimes we just have to acknowledge where we are, that our spirits and our outlook are bleak. Sometimes it is healing in its own special way to communicate to God how tired and frustrated and frightened we are. Because God understands. And God can help us to find the way to relief, rest and refreshment.
I know you, alone, can take all my complaints and my dissatisfactions and turn them into something better. So I come to you O God, to take the burdens from me today. Amen.

November 15
If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you.
     James 1:5

None of us can make this journey on our own. None of us has every answer, knows every nuance or understands every possibility. But God does. And God wants us to receive every answer we need, be aware of every nuance for hopeful living and comprehend every possibility of our healing. There is amazing power in connecting with God to explore the divine and eternal blessings that are offered to us completely, unendingly and without price. We need to remember that we are not alone in this challenge. We must never forget what a friend we have through the gracious love of God.
Thank you, generous God, for offering to me so much more than I realize or know. Thank you for giving to me everything I need to find healing and triumph today - and every day in my life. Amen.

November 16
“But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,…”
     Matthew 5:44

The reminder is necessary and worth continual repeating – forgiveness is an essential part of authentic healing. We must allow the weight to be lifted from our hearts. The burdens we carry only get in the way. It is imperative to put aside the brokenness within us and allow all the pieces of our lives to be put back together again. The road to survival is hard enough to travel. When we lug so much extra baggage along the way, we only hurt ourselves. We hinder the healing that needs to take place. Resolve every day to take stock of the negative weight you carry. Resolve to unburden yourself today.
It’s sometimes the hardest thing I need to do. O God, I need your help to empower my ability to forgive. I ask for the strength to resolve my anger and bitterness, my resentments and grudges today. Amen.

November 17
O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;
     Psalm 3:1

We are all bombarded by challenges to our well-being. Every day the enemies of health and peace assault us. We confront the forces of pain and feel our strength diminish within us. There are days when it simply overwhelms us. We wonder if we can go on, if the struggle is worth it in the end. Taking our fears and burdens to God is the best thing we can do. Calling out to the One who is already at work equipping us for the challenge enables us to begin summoning the resources to confront the assault and meet it in the most healing way.
It’s very easy to think that everything is going against me some days. I often have trouble seeing beyond that to better days. Help me moment by moment, dear God, to recognize the power you give me to rise above the trouble and to see the hope. Amen.

November 18
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
     Colossians 3:14

An attitude that above all else is based on love is an essential healing component. Love has a positive outlook. Love looks for what is right. Love strives for goodness. Love puts aside bitterness and resentment. Love reaches out in compassion. Love reflects God’s grace. Love kindles hope. Love concerns itself with service. Love listens actively and responds in kindness. Love embraces faith. Love casts aside judgments. Love soothes a troubles soul. Love makes the journey worthwhile. Love is a balm that helps put the pieces back together again.
Creator of Love, help me to allow the love you have for me be a healing presence within me today. I pray that love, which endures all things, will help me to overcome all my worries and concerns. Amen.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Week of November 5 - 11

November 5
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
     Matthew 11:29

Where can we find relief from the relentless challenges that often wear us down? How can we find respite and recovery? When can we find healing and hope as disease continues to haunt and hurt us? We can find them when we resolve not to carry the burden all on our own. We can find them as we learn to rely on God’s promise of guidance and support. We can find them when we rely on the genuine support of others. We can find them when we develop strategies to care for ourselves in healthier ways that bring us renewal and refreshment. We can find them by actively developing an attitude of positive and realistic hope. We can find them by believing that indeed we can and will be healed in countless ways.
Dear God, I need to have the burdens lifted and respite restored. I know you provide that help in more ways than I can imagine. Help me to imagine them today. Amen.

November 6
…spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.
     Psalm 5:11b

Seek out people who are positive in outlook and affirming in manner. Find those who believe in the loving help of God. Cultivate relationships with others who exhibit an active trust in the power of hope. These people serve as wonderful role models and mentors for us on the cancer journey. They know that God does bring healing to us and they live in that knowledge every day. They have experienced and witnessed the gracious care of God and they live in gratitude for the tremendous blessings they have received. Their very lives praise God. They are the very people we need to be around. We can learn from them and grow because of them. We need them in our lives.
I thank you, O God, for those in this world whose lives are a rich and special tribute to your goodness. I am grateful for those in my life who show me this way. I pray to find even more of them to lift me closer to you. Amen.

November 7
And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight,
     Philippians 1:9

So often it’s not that God isn’t actively working to help us and answer our prayers, but it’s that we don’t understand what God is doing. Indeed, God is always working, always reaching out, always offering us solutions and support for our needs. But so many times in our very limited human understandings of what we need and of God’s infinite power to provide for our needs, we have a failure of imagination and possibility. Our ability to discern God’s care and concern for us is hindered when we limit what we believe can be real. It is hindered when we limit what God can do.
Dear God, I’m sorry when I close my mind and soul to your offers of grace and renewal in my life. But today I ask for the wisdom and spirit to expand my thinking and to open my heart to the tremendous help you give. Amen.

November 8
…you cover them with favor as with a shield.
     Psalm 5:12b

More than anything else, God wants to protect and save us – from our own self-destructive tendencies, from the hurtfulness of others and from the ravages of disease and pain. Our hope and salvation comes from believing so strongly in God’s redeeming power and amazing grace that we accept them as the ruling principles in our lives. When we have a foundational belief in the unconditional love of God as our source of healing and life, we elevate our lives to a higher level and set a standard for living and being that transforms us positively.
Today I will allow your love to lift me higher than I have ever been lifted before. Dear God, I need your presence to see me through. I know, when I allow it, it will empower me like I’ve never been empowered before. Amen.

November 9
But he answered, “It is written, `One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
     Matthew 4:4

As important as it is to care for our physical needs, it is at least equally important to care for our spiritual health as well. As we focus on the threats to our bodily well-being that cancer brings, it is very easy to neglect our spirits and souls. But a spirit that is depleted and a soul that is empty cannot provide us with the inner strength we need to fully confront our diagnosis and maximize our potential for survival. We must pay care and attention to nurturing the part of ourselves that provides us light, gives us hope and transcends the fear around us. That care is as important as anything else we do.
When I don’t take the time to connect with you, dear God, I lose something vital inside me. In this moment as I pray to you, I reclaim my need for you and your amazing grace. Amen.

November 10
I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy hill.
     Psalm 3:4

My answers alone are never quite enough. My perspectives by themselves are limited in their scope. While I know might know myself intimately, God knows me even more. God’s view transcends this world, this moment. God’s view is an eternal one. God’s understandings go beyond this place and time. God’s holy view, from the vantage point of eternity, sees what we do not and cannot. This perspective is the one with which we need to connect to know our way, the way that is best for our healing and our ongoing journey through life.
Holy God, you answer me in greater ways than I can imagine. You call back to me with thoughts I have never considered. You speak to me with the clarity I really need. Because of your eternal understandings I am richly blessed. Amen.

November 11 

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having everything, to stand firm.
     Ephesians 6:13

Surround yourself with caring people whom you can trust, those who love you and want only the best for you. Commit to whatever form of exercise brings you energy and enjoyment. Create and maintain an attitude of expectation and hopefulness. Nourish your body with food that is fresh, whole and colorful. Nurture relationships with medical professionals that are mutually respectful and honest. Connect with God constantly in prayer, especially to express thanks. These things together make up the armor of God. These things will give you strength, empowerment and the courage to stand for healing in the midst of distress and disease.
You provide me with more power than I can begin to name, dear Lord. You are my protector, my deflector and my defender. My gratitude is endless. Amen.