Friday, April 29, 2011

Week of April 30 - May 6

April 30
This is right and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
     1 Timothy 2:3-4

One of the quickest things we forget when we are hit with devastating news is that there can and will be better days for us ahead. We get so caught up in the crisis of the moment that we lose sight of the hope and promise that this can be but a temporary thing. Our senses become clouded and our reason becomes unfocused. We fall into despair and doubt so easily that our expectations become very negative. It is our biggest challenge to keep from wallowing in anxiety and fear. In this state we forget that God does not want our suffering or our pain. God does not desire us to give up or to give in to anguish and disillusionment. God wants us to know the truth – that we are loved, that we matter and that we are offered help for this day and for all eternity.
My faith comes and goes so dramatically, O God. It rises and falls sometimes moment by moment. I need your help to keep me strong, to keep me believing in your gracious love and care. It’s a lifeline that I desperately need. Amen.

May 1

… thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
     1 Timothy 6:19

What makes life worth living for you? What stirs deep love in your heart? Nurture those things. What enables you to have unshakable hope in what lies ahead? Cling to those things. What offers you unbridled joy in living? Pursue those things. What brings you peace and fills your soul? Pray for those things. Take a good, long look inside of you to grow in understanding about what is most important to you, about what offers you significance and instills a passion for this life you have. One extremely vital key to survival is to have a purpose, to be filled with meaning, to live a life that matters. Where there is little meaning, it is time to make a change. Where there is worth and value it is your opportunity to cherish those things and help them grow ever stronger for a renewed life.
When I get so caught up in my own problems and worries, I forget to make the time to look within and really know who and what I am. It’s not always easy to do. But I am asking you, dear God, to show me the way today, the way to what is most important for my life. Amen.

May 2
Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy.
     2 Timothy 1:4

The cancer journey cannot be made alone. It may feel as if we are all alone and, of course, no one else can understand exactly what we are going through. But we need others with us who will help, encourage, guide and nurture us. We need them, especially for our souls. There is nothing worse than feeling totally alone, misunderstood or without support. It is then when we become so discouraged that we lose hope and the will to go on. But the right people, with the right attitude, with the right concern for our well-being, with the right spirit of support can be a blessing to us that is immeasurable beyond our immediate understanding. They can sustain and strengthen us in ways too deep for words.
I cannot fully express to you how much it means to me when someone reaches out to me with grace and compassion. It lifts me up. It carries me through. It gives me hope. Thank you, dear God, for bringing these good people into my life. Amen.

May 3
The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.
     2 Timothy 4:22

This benediction, one of many throughout the scriptures, serves as a reminder that God constantly watches over us. It serves as an endorsement of our very lives and of our special place in God’s plan. It calls us to understand that we have an eternal protector who knows everything we experience, every challenge we endure, every need we have. This assurance of God’s divine blessing over our lives provides us with tremendous certainties – that our struggles are not unnoticed, that our dilemmas are not ours to face alone, that our pain is not in vain, that our circumstances are not without meaning, that our journey is not without guidance and direction. And it means so much more as well. This benediction, along with all the others the scriptures hold, is our lifeline to the One who sees us through it all. It is our lifeline to wholeness, hope and healing.
It is your spirit, wonderful God, which keeps me going and helps me to find your way, which is so much better for my life. Knowing that you accompany me is the richest blessing of my life. Amen.

May 4
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me …
     Psalm 23:4a,b

The valleys we enter on the cancer journey can be very deep, dark and distressing. Fear is often our constant companion along the way. We feel as if we are in the valleys alone, with neither a guide nor a discernable way out. Even in our loneliness, the psalmist reminds us, we are not ever alone. We are assured that indeed God never leaves us to travel the depths without help, without hope or without a hand to grasp onto.
Good Shepherd, I do feel alone sometimes, as if I’ll never shake off this anxiety and despair. But don’t let me forget your abiding presence and your infinite care. Your reassurance does give me hope. Amen.

May 5
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
     Matthew 6:34

Worry can be our constant companion – if we allow it to be. Worry about our situation, about what is to come or about any number of “what ifs” can dominate our thoughts. Worry can overwhelm our lives. A key survivor’s task is to resist the power of worry. The task is to place each challenge in perspective. It is to give no concern more authority than it deserves. It is to allow God to shoulder the burdens with us. It is to live believing we do not have to carry the burdens alone.
When I cling to burdens that are too heavy for me to carry, remind me, dear God, that I don’t need to shoulder them alone. Help me to allow you to carry them for me instead. Amen.

May 6
“Do you want to be made well?”
     John 5:6b

The first question to ask ourselves when we are confronted with cancer is: do we truly want to be well? Wanting it, desiring it, longing for it is the first step toward healing. With the goal established and the outcome we’re seeking made clear, then we can begin the process of mapping the route we need to take to get there. The will to be well is utterly necessary for us to create wellness in our lives.
Strengthen my resolve to seek all that it takes to be well, O God. Inspire in me the will to find the wholeness I need. Amen.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Week of April 23 - 29

April 23

The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.
     Proverbs 16:9


God has given us great powers to direct and shape our lives. We have been given the gift of choice in how we carry out our days. Our minds are granted great authority to discern our path and direction. But we have also been created to look to God for the things we cannot perceive or understand on our own. When we forget that, we can find ourselves in trouble, floundering and being frightened in a multitude of ways. Because there is a much larger picture we cannot see, we need to allow God to lead us in the ways God knows are best. God often has surprises in store for us that may not be what we imagined or planned, wonderful surprises that are far better and stronger than anything we could imagine. Think today of those times when God had something far better planned for you than you ever could have planned for yourself. When you think about it you’ll be astounded at how many of those times there have been.

I like to think I know best, but, dear God, I cannot even begin to compare to you. So, when I am inclined to do something my way, a way that will not be best for my journey, please show me your better way and help me to embrace it for my own good. Amen.

April 24  

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.
     I John 3: 1 a,b


A child of God. That is what every one of us is. We are created in a divine and special image to reflect God’s goodness, grace, wonder and love. God has created us to find joy and to grow to experience the awesome power and glory of eternity. When we suffer, God feels the hurt as well. When we are afraid, God understands our anxiety. When we are overwhelmed, God experiences the burden with us. Through it all God also reaches out to give us comfort, to calm our disquieted hearts and to lift the weight of our distress. When we feel as if this disease is too much for us, as if we don’t have a way out or we can never have better days, God reassures us constantly that we are loved and cherished – and helped and guided – no matter how difficult the day.

Today, O God, I am given greater strength because I know I belong to you. That you have created me and treasure me beyond any words I can express provides incredible comfort. When I am feeling down and questioning how I can go on, it is very reassuring to know you care so much for me. Amen.


April 25

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
     I John 3:2


Do you really believe you have been created in the image of God? Do you really accept you are loved unconditionally? Do you really comprehend God wants nothing but wholeness and healing for you? Do you really know God forgives you? Do you really trust God is reaching out with loving, healing arms to strengthen and guide you? On this journey of survival it is deeply important that you do realize all these things. When you understand how precious and vital your life and well-being are in God eyes, you gain a source of power and purpose that is stronger than anything else you can have in your life. Trust in the grace of a God who cherishes and never fails you. Hold onto the promises of this God who is our greatest hope, our healing rock.

Because you made me you know me. You know me as I am. You know just what I need. I don’t even know myself as well as you know who I am. In your intimate understanding, O God, please reach out to show me everything I need. Amen.


April 26

And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
     I John 3:3


When we realize our deep worth to God we gain a new perspective about life and our purpose in it. We appreciate that our mistakes are behind us and forgotten. We recognize that we have been put here to make a difference. We comprehend that we have been blessed with gifts of abundance to nurture and to share. When we understand that God has a divine purpose for us we begin to live in a new and different way. That way has more joy in it, more love, more peace and ultimately more hope. This special knowledge is essential to finding meaning in our cancer and the motivation to survive it. Today, be reassured that your healing is of great value to God. Believe that you deserve to find healing and live as if you are already claiming healing as your own.

I need to know my worth, dear God. Often when I am feeling tired or alone or afraid I forget how precious my life is to you. I need my life to be just as valued by me, too. Amen.


April 27

But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children –
     Deuteronomy 4:9


You are deeply important to God. You are deeply important to this world and the time in which we live. You have been placed here by God to make a positive difference in this world, to make it better through your presence. You have vital work to do - work that expresses love, work that lifts others up, work that introduces others to a higher purpose – work that reflects the grace and goodness of God. You are a blessed person because you are a child of God. The blessings you enjoy and the blessings you share are the true essence of who you are in this life. When you understand how important you are and how much you have to offer to those around you it can bring greater meaning to your life – and greater purpose to your recovery.

When I am reminded of my significance in your plan for the world, O God, I have more purpose and intention on this journey. That’s just what I need when the day is rough. I cherish this reminder of my value and meaning to you. Amen.


April 28

Because the Lord your God is a merciful God, he will neither abandon you nor destroy you; he will not forget the covenant with your ancestors that he swore to them.
     Deuteronomy 4:31


We may easily forget how faithful God is to us. The circumstances of our lives cause our levels of trust to waver wildly from day to day. But as inconsistent as we may be and as volatile as our faith often is, God never turns from us. God will never leave us to make this difficult journey alone. God will never forget who we are, where we are or what we are going through. God created us out of love to experience love in everything we do. God wants us to live life abundantly and joyfully. God wants us to experience blessing and peace. God offers all these things to us. Even when we are inclined to disbelieve or forget, God never leaves us by ourselves to find our way.

Dear God, from the beginning of time your love was made known. Your faithfulness was made clear. When I forget that, I am sorry. But when I remember, I am given greater confidence and hope. Thank you for never giving up on me. Amen.

April 29

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession.
     Deuteronomy 7:6


It’s really impossible to comprehend the depth and passion of God’s love for us. Because it’s so difficult we often cannot even begin to believe it is real. When we’re feeling incredibly threatened and desperately vulnerable because of a disease such as cancer, it’s hard to imagine that we matter. But we are not insignificant. We truly are treasured by God. And because we are treasured we are cared for and protected no matter what is going on around us or within us. We are deeply prized, valued and cherished by God. We are God’s finest and most profound creations. Made in God’s awe-inspiring image, we are intimately connected to all that is divine and eternal. There is nothing more precious to God than what God has made in human form.

When I am enfolded in the knowledge of your loving embrace, I am given peace and reassurance that I am not in this challenge alone. It helps so much to realize you care for me beyond words. Thank you, O Lord. Amen.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Week of April 16 - 22

April 16
But strive for the greater gifts and I will show you a still more excellent way.
     I Corinthians 12:31

Cancer can drag us down a path that is full of fear, negativity and pain. It pushes us hard and it’s often difficult for us to resist its destructive power and persuasion. But the way of fear, of negativity and of pain is not the way that God wants any of us to go. God’s desire for us is to experience much more instead. God’s desire for us is to know courage and peace. God’s way for us is to know promise and possibility. God’s plan for us is to know comfort and release. We do not have to be resigned to days that demoralize and defeat us. There is something better. There is something more. Don’t ever believe that there is no hope, no achievable plan for healing of your body, mind or soul. God has a way and when we put our trust in God’s hands we can find it.

I’m looking for your more excellent way, O God. I’m looking past my anxiousness and my doubts to find the healing you offer, the hope you promise and the help you reveal. Amen.

April 17

… for God is a God not of disorder but of peace.
      I Corinthians 14:33

There is certainly incredible turmoil around each of us in this life. And with cancer there is surely much turmoil within. Cancer turns our lives and hopes upside down. But God has not created us to live in turmoil. God has not made us to be torn apart or to exist in pain. That is why when anguish and suffering come into our lives we need to look to God for our help and our hope. God does not want turmoil to define us. Instead God wants peace and tranquility to preside over our days. When struggles come and we find ourselves burdened and weary, we need to turn from the sources of chaos and disarray and turn toward the Source that provides serenity and grace instead.

Thank you, dear God, for always holding out to me the way to find healing from everything that torments and troubles me. I pray to recognize the help you offer and to allow it to transform my life. Amen.


April 18

Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.
     I Corinthians 16:13

When we are threatened in any way, we sometimes quickly lose our perspective and our confidence. Undoubtedly, cancer is right at the top of the list when it comes to the biggest threats in each of our lives. Cancer can coerce us into questioning if God really cares or will help us in our distress. It can tempt us to give in to fear, to persistent doubt, to worry and to chronic negativity. But God keeps promising that none of that needs to last. God keeps promising that we are not alone, that we are being helped, that we can find healing, that God indeed does understand. The scriptures are full of the witnesses of countless saints of the faith who also suffered and were deeply scared. And the scriptures are full of their ultimate claims to faith, to God’s very real and evident role in healing their troubled lives. We can be witnesses to the same faith too.

Ever-present God, I certainly waver a lot. You know that, just as I do too. But I am so grateful that you don’t cast me aside when I do. You still keep offering to me your comfort and your strength. Amen.


April 19
Let all that you do be done in love.
     I Corinthians 16:14


It is so important to keep our focus on what this life is meant to be about. It’s essential to remember why we were created. We were created by God in love, to be loved and to share love. Love is what binds us together. Love is what causes us to reach out to care. Love is what propels us to resolve anger. Love helps to soothe pain. Love enables us to overcome bitterness. Love gives us reason to go on. God’s love is boundless, unconditional and eternal. It is because God loves us so much that God does not want us to suffer. Love relieves our distress. When we accept God’s love and live with the knowledge that in God’s eyes we are cherished, we can live with greater confidence in our healing and have greater hope for the journey we are on.

Loving God, gracious God, I know you are devoted to me. I know you treasure me beyond compare and only want what is best for me. Today I ask for your devotion to carry me through and remind me of how precious I am in your sight. Amen.


April 20
His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
     2 Peter 1:3


We have been created to live abundantly in God’s image, to reflect the nature of God in everything we do. And that nature is one of healing, of joy and of peace. Anytime any one of us is not experiencing fully the nature of God, God actively works to provide it for us. God works to give us the help we need to reclaim what is our birthright as those created in God’s image. We have at our disposal, already, the means to be well and whole again wherever we need it, the way to experience delight every day and the ability to live in serenity. God wants nothing but goodness for us. When we are not healthy God wants nothing more for us than to find wholeness and well-being again. We need to claim this desire of God’s and hold tightly onto it. This knowledge and belief gives us hope and strength to meet each new day and everything each day brings.

Dear God of life and goodness, when the circumstances of my life wear me down I need to refocus my understandings and perspectives on you and your plans for me. I know they are plans for healing and joy, and when I forget, I need you to remind me again. Amen.


April 21

Therefore I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you.
     2 Peter 1:12

All of us need to keep coming back to the truth of who we are in this world God has made for us. When life gets rough, when we are threatened and vulnerable, we need to be reminded again and again how loved we are in the sight of God. Cancer can make us feel deeply alone. It can cause us to seem forgotten and abandoned. It can force us to think we will never see better days or health again. But the truth is we are not in this by ourselves. We are not deserted and discarded. We are instead given the help and the hope we need to find recovery and strength once more. God’s infinite and unconditional devotion to us stands as a beacon to us when our days are at their most difficult. We must never stop remembering that God does not want our distress to last.

There are plenty of days when I feel as if I am hanging on only by a thread. And I wonder when it will break and I will fall into bottomless despair. Tell me again, O God, that this will not last, that I will have better days ahead. Amen.


April 22

Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.
     Proverbs 16:3


We believe too often that we have to carry this burden of disease and recovery all on our own. We get so caught up in what we think we need to do that we forget to think about what God can do. And God can do just what we think we can’t. When the responsibilities seem too big, when the decisions seem too complex, when the answers seems too uncertain, we will discover relief when we remember that this is not a load we must carry by ourselves. God is constantly providing us a way so that cancer does not destroy us. God is already working on our behalf even before we realize what we need. God is forever offering to us help to carry the load and help to carry us when the load is too much. We need to allow God to work in us. Then we will find the path to be filled with so much more hope and peace.

I try to shoulder far more than I should, dear God. And then when it gets to be too hard I realize how much I need you to help see me through. Help me to realize that I need you sooner so that I don’t wait until I am so overwhelmed. Amen.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Week of April 8 - 15

April 8
For if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help.
     Ecclesiastes 9:10

The support we have through the cancer journey is essential. We need people around us who can listen to our fears and worries without judgment. We need people around us who are positive and encouraging. We need people around us who have only our best interests and needs in mind. There are many days when fear and anxiety strike us hard. We need around us those who love us enough to allow us to express what we’re feeling and then who will walk through the fires with us until we emerge from them. One of the most helpful things we can do for our healing is to know who these people are in our lives. Give thanks for those relationships and nurture them in every way you can. They provide a crucial lifeline that is a blessing in countless ways.

Just when I think I can’t do this on my own, you provide for me a reminder of how much I am loved and cared for. Just when I need someone to show me a more positive way, you bring someone to me to give me just what I need. Thank you, O God. Amen.


April 9

When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
     Isaiah 43:2b


The intensity of cancer’s journey gets to be far too much at times. It can burn through our lives and destroy many of our yearnings and dreams for what we hope our lives to be. Too often we allow cancer to consume every bit of our lives. We can’t stop thinking about it, talking about it or worrying about what might come next. It gets in the way of our living joyfully and fully the way God has created us to live. When we feel as if we are being consumed by cancer, we need to allow God to fight the fires that burn. We need to allow God to control all the destructive fires that burn within and around us. We do not have to confront them by ourselves. Indeed, we should not; because we cannot do it completely on our own.

I’m walking through fire a lot, O God, and I’m having a hard time getting out of it. So I pray to you today to help me learn how not to be consumed. I pray to you to help me step out of the fire and put each of my days in a more positive perspective. Amen.


 April 10

Again, if two lie together, they keep warm; but how can one keep warm alone?
     Ecclesiastes 9:11


Again and again, God highlights our need for support and encouragement. God created us to live in connection with one another. Laughter is better when it is shared. Love is deeper when it is mutual. Life is richer when it is blessed with cherished relationships. When difficulties come into our lives, when disease and distress challenge us, the way through them is made much easier when those in our lives help to sustain us. The daunting tests we face with cancer can be far less intimidating when the laughter, love and life we experience is shared, mutual and cherished. How do your relationships sustain you? Hold onto those special ones that give you just what you need. They are gifts from God that we cannot do without.

The comforting embrace that comes from knowing there are others who really care for me is more important than I know how to say. Dear God, I can’t express enough how wonderful it is to know I walk this path with the help of others who truly care. Amen.


April 11

They lift up their voices, they sing for joy; they shout from the west over the majesty of the Lord.
     Isaiah 24:14


In many ways there doesn’t seem to be much to celebrate when cancer comes into our lives. The anxiety and disruption it causes doesn’t lend itself very easily to good times and fun. It’s very easy to lose sight of the things that are good – the love of those who care about us, the activities that bring us contentment, the wonder of creation around us. It’s especially easy to lose sight of the blessings that come with faith – hope for better days, confidence that healing can really happen, reassuring guidance for our spirits and lives. We can quickly overlook the parts of our lives that are positive. We can simply forget that practicing gratitude will change our attitudes profoundly. Our challenge is to create an atmosphere of thanksgiving and to live in it. When we lift up our voices in thanks and live in joy our lives truly do change in positive ways.

When I struggle with the things I don’t like about my circumstances, I pull myself down and I don’t like how that feels. When I’m in that frame of mind, I ask you, dear God, to show me a better way, a way of gladness, goodness and joy. Amen.


April 12

And though one might prevail against another, two will withstand one. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.
     Ecclesiastes: 9:12

There can be a lot of negativity surrounding cancer. The realities of weakened immune systems, the side effects of many treatments, the consequences of bad test results and the concerned, but misplaced comments of people around us, all can serve to bring us down. When we feel bombarded and beleaguered, it’s very easy to focus on all that’s going wrong. If we allow it we can become easily broken down. That’s where we need the positive influence and encouragement of caring people around us, people who help us see beyond the frustrations and enable us to envision the very real possibilities and hopes that lie in front of us. We are infinitely stronger and more able to withstand the challenges when we can be reminded that the difficulties are not the only things in our lives.

I really do need to be reminded that there is so much more to my life and in my life than cancer, O God. When that is all I think about I am quickly brought down. But when you speak through others to show me there is more to consider I am lifted to where I need to be. Amen.


April 13
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.
     I Corinthians 12:1


We should not underestimate how important it is to pay attention to our spiritual natures. Without a connection to something greater than ourselves we can be seriously overwhelmed. Without a perspective beyond ourselves we can be deeply restricted and cut off. Without a realization of our worth in eternal eyes we can be profoundly unaware of how significant we are and how important our wholeness and healing is to God. Through our spirits we are given tremendous gifts of strength, understanding, patience, courage, stamina, forgiveness, grace, appreciation and love. When we develop and rely upon these spiritual gifts to sustain and guide us we have access to a reservoir of resources that knows no bounds. The human spirit is a limitless source of help, given to us by a generous and compassionate God.

Dear God, on this journey I need all the help I can get. I know I need to draw on the deep, deep gifts you have given me. Thank you so much for them. When I really take the time to think about them their abundance is overwhelming. Amen.


April 14

Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.
     1 Corinthians 12:14


So often with cancer we have a razor sharp focus on the site of the disease and the fight to eradicate the disease from our bodies. But when we focus only on that, we neglect the rest of our selves. It takes the whole person to find healing from cancer. It takes a comprehensive approach to find all we need on this journey. We cannot, must not, neglect every other aspect of our selves. For one part of our selves to work best, all the other parts need to be at their best too. We have been created that way. We are at our healthiest that way. Pay attention not only to the physical and medical aspects of your treatment. But also pay just as close attention to the health and strength of the rest of your body. Just as importantly, give great care to keeping a positive attitude and a hopeful outlook. Faithfully and constantly, nurture the needs of your spirit and soul. Each part of you matters just as much as the other.

When you made me, dear God, you made me carefully and completely. Inspire me to care for myself completely, to nurture every part of this precious life you have given. Amen.

April 15

If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
     1 Corinthians 12:26


We don’t walk this path alone. When we hurt, those who love us hurt with us. When we are weak, the hearts of those close to us have something diminished in them too. When we feel strong, those who care about us feel better as well. When we hear wonderful news, the spirits of those around us are lifted in connection and in celebration. There is nothing that makes us feel more forlorn than the feeling of being all alone when the hardest of life’s challenges hit us. There is nothing emptier than having something good to share and feeling as if no one cares or appreciates our joy. But we need to remember that we are loved, that there are those who truly and deeply care about our circumstances. How good it is to know there are those who will cry with us and exult with us just because we are part of their lives.

Understanding God, you care about me in my good moments and in my bad moments too. You know just how I feel and just what I need. You are with me completely and unendingly. And you give me others in my life, to share with me, too. I am so grateful for you and for them.  Amen