Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Week of October 1 - 7

October 1

For “Those who desire life and desire to see good days, let them keep their tongues from evil and their lips from speaking deceit; …”
     1 Peter 3:10

One of the easiest reactions many of us have to cancer is to get angry and - then to stay angry. While anger can mobilize us into needed actions, failure to resolve anger healthily can mire us in bitterness and needless pain. But when we choose to move beyond our anger and look for the blessings in our circumstances – the opportunities, the new insights, the strength we never knew we had – we inherit so much more than we can ever imagine. That inheritance of hope and understanding is what will under gird us to see us through.

I often don’t even begin to realize how much help I receive when I look to you, O God. It’s easier to delve into the negative than it is to discover the positive. I need to see something good today. Help me to see it more than I ever have before. Amen.

October 2

He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me; for they were too mighty for me.
     II Samuel 22:18

None of us can go through life alone, without help or guidance. It’s even more the case when cancer enters our lives. The path it forces upon us can often be incredibly overwhelming. We simply cannot navigate its course by ourselves. We need tremendous support along the way. The most important source of support is God. Nothing we do is as significant unless we place our hand into God’s, for God to show us the best way to go. We need God’s perfect understanding to lead us. Without it, we are left wanting for all that we need.

I know you never leave my side, faithful God. Your vigilance and protection against the threats around me are always there. I cannot thank you enough for caring for me like this. Amen.

October 3

Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God.
     3 John: 11

The best way to overcome evil is to model what is good. Our baser impulses often propel us to react negatively to bad circumstances in our lives. Ultimately that gets us nowhere. Our best reaction to cancer comes in a constant recognition of the blessings around us. We must create blessings too – constructing positive thoughts, resisting the urge to follow through on negative impulses and seeking positive people and positive situations to support us. Just as evil produces more evil, goodness produces more goodness in amazing – and healing - ways.

It is far too easy to fall into traps of negativity and despair. I know I do it too much. But today I look to you, dear God, to help me stay out of nonconstructive situations. Amen.

October 4

For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?
      II Samuel 22:32

This world can disappoint. People often let us down. Promises get broken. Problems continue to arise around us. Often against our own best efforts, we continue to be battered with heartbreak and pain. Cancer is a huge disappointment. Our bodies let us down, even when we do everything we think is right. But in this life there is One who never lets us down, never breaks promises, never presents us with problems. This One never batters us, breaks our hearts or brings us pain. God – the One - does not disappoint, because God loves us infinitely and perfectly. When we understand that, we can find tremendous hope and peace in knowing that we are cared for – always.

You are the One who gives me all I need. You are the One who cares for me even more than I care for myself. You are the One who loves me perfectly. You are the One to whom I turn today to show me your gracious way. Amen.

October 5

… my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.
     II Samuel 22:3c,d

Over and over again, the refrain from the scriptures announces that God is steadfast, strong, and wanting to save us. Verse after verse reminds us that we have a source of incredible help in our times of distress. When we are quick to forget that there is a source of hope for us, these words return us to the hope. When we are likely to give up in the midst of our struggle with disease, these words urge us to remember that we have greater help than we ever knew. This refrain is repeated constantly in the scriptures because we need to hear it constantly – in order to remember, in order to allow the words to enter and remain in our thoughts and lives.

Dear God, the temptations to live in pessimism and despair are too great at times. There are days when I just don’t have the energy for the fight. I need to know that you are strong and that you are right here to help me get through this day. Thank you for the reminder. Amen.

October 6

“I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world …”
     John 17:6a

Holy. Sacred. Revered. Each of these describes God’s name. We can keep on adding other words that begin to define who God is. We can add them forever, because the list will never be finished. God is so strong, so vast, so good, so loving, so forgiving, so …. You fill in the blanks. The descriptions are endless. And that’s the point to remember today. God’s power to help us, to heal us, to comfort us, to care for us is endless, infinite, forever. Do not forget that today – and anytime the day is rough. Go to God for your strength and hope, because God can do far more than we can comprehend.

God of endless possibilities, I look to you today from my place of limitation. I look to you because I know you can open up my heart and my understanding. I look to you with confidence, knowing you will give me infinite blessings and help. Amen.

October 7

From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry came to his ears.
     II Samuel 22:7b

When we are likely to feel that God isn’t listening or doesn’t seem to care, scriptures like these remind us that our prayers do go somewhere. God does listen. God does care. Our cries for help, for mercy, for relief and for healing do not fall into empty space. Instead, our cries go to God and God does act to give us all that we need. Do not give up on calling out for God’s guidance and support. God’s ability to listen – and act - far exceeds our ability to understand. We need to trust in God’s ability, even when we don’t understand how vast and great it is.

I pray for the reassurance of your listening ear, O God. To know that you really do care about my needs means the world to me. Your love reassures me and motivates me. Thank you. Amen.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Week of September 24 - 30

September 24
And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.
     Matthew 6:13

God does not give us this disease called cancer. God does not strike us with hardship or harm us through retribution. God seeks only to save us from destruction and deliver us from all that keeps us from living fully the life we were created to live. God simply wants us to know and experience the peace, hope, joy and love that God knows. When we place our trust in God and look to God in everything we do, we can begin to experience God’s ultimate will for us every day. In that we will be saved from evil and delivered from debilitating distress.
When I am in anguish and pain, I know I need to remember that you can deliver me from falling into despair. I know, too, that you can save me from my own destructive fears. O God, I need you today and I thank you for never leaving my side. Amen.

September 25
He made my feet like the feet of deer, and set me secure on the heights.
     II Samuel 22:34

It is our faith that enables us to be lifted up to heights we never imagined we could reach. Our faith enables us to find strength we never knew we could have, answers we never thought we could find and joy we never could have expected to experience. Our faith in a good, loving, compassionate and eternal God, equips us to know eternal wonder and infinite peace. This faith is our bedrock and our hope. We must never give up on its power to transform us so that we may triumph over the disease in our midst.
My mind can scarcely comprehend, dear God, what you do for me to deliver me from the ravages of cancer and its effects. But I know you are working without fail to give me much more than I could ever do for myself alone. Amen.

September 26
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
     Matthew 5:16

Cancer does not mean that we have to stop living a life that is vibrant, full of possibility or expectant with dreams for tomorrow. Cancer does not have to mean the end of hope, but can mean the start of a new life that is many times better than the life we knew before. Survivors embrace the opportunity to begin a new life, to make new and better priorities and to set goals well into the future they expect to keep. In the darkness a light can still shine and, in fact, it can shine brighter than it’s ever shined before.
When I am tempted to give into the darkness, dear God, I know I can come to you to help me see that there is light. You are the most brilliant light in my life. I pray for you to help me reflect your light with my life. Amen.

September 27
He reached from on high, he took me, he drew me out of mighty waters.
     II Samuel 22:17

It often feels as if cancer has hurled us cruelly into a deep and roaring torrent that threatens to drown us in its fury. Those raging waters rush us along, taking all control from us, carrying us to places we neither recognize nor want to be. It pulls us away from all that is comfortable and seemingly safe and it churns us upside down and inside out. But God’s love for us reaches out to pull us from that fury. God’s grace surrounds us with life-saving strength to keep us from drowning in the depths of despair and disease. God’s hand delivers us and gives us new life.
God of deliverance, in this storm in which I find myself, I feel so out of control. Remind me that you are in control. And since you are in control I can know that no matter what comes my way, you will give me all that I need. Amen.

September 28
The God who has girded me with strength has opened wide my path.
     II Samuel 22:33

Cancer can have a way of broadening our horizons, understandings, outlooks and future. Far from restraining or limiting us, when seen as an opportunity to change our lives for the better, cancer can enable us to see life in a new and more profound way. When life is threatened, when our mortality is made startlingly real to us, survivors seize the opportunity to make life more meaningful, consequential and filled with joy. The importance life takes on can free us to embrace its wonders and possibilities in more positive and affirming ways.
I will celebrate today the renewed opportunities you have given me to live my life more fully and gratefully, O God. I pray to see more goodness and hope than I have ever seen before. I thank you for showing me the way. Amen.

September 29
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
     Matthew 5:13

Too often a cancer diagnosis gets us written off and too many react to us as useless…weakened…diminished. Expectations are lowered. Hope for the future is tempered. Those attitudes can leave us holding on to very little optimism about circumstances. But cancer does not need to be a death sentence. It does not need to be a statement that our lives are nearing an end. Cancer does not mean our lives have to be diminished. In fact, cancer can free us to live more passionately and gratefully. Survivors embrace that freedom and commit to living in more satisfying ways.
In those moments when I feel depleted and spent, I need to be strengthened and revived by you. God of renewal, I ask to feel your restoring spirit today. I need it so very much. I need to live expectantly once again. Amen.

September 30
… This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
     Isaiah 25:9b

Most of us are not good at waiting. In fact, we are quite impatient. We set our own timetables and are disappointed when things don’t go just as we’d like. Often, many of us blame God when life doesn’t unfold as we want. But in doing so, we forget something so utterly important …our timetables are not God’s. We forget it is God who knows best, who offers what we need when we need it and whose timetable is the perfect one for us. Even when we don’t always understand God’s mysterious ways, we can be reassured that they are the ways to seek and to find.
My impatience gets in the way of my best interests too many times, O God. But in my reflection I know I need to actively wait on you, and when I do, my needs will be wonderfully met. Amen.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Week of September 17 - 23

September 17
All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.
     John 1:3

God is the source of all our lives. God is the creator of everything good, eternal and holy. When bad things come into our lives, God is there to turn them around. When problems assail us, God is with us to show us they are temporary. When evil surrounds us, God stays by us to vanquish it from our lives. As the burdens of cancer weigh us down, we must hold onto this good news. God formed this world and said that it was good. All our beliefs need to be based on the power of this created goodness. This power can then sustain us and strengthen us no matter what confronts us or lies ahead.
When I remember that I have been created in goodness and that you made the world to be good, I am emboldened to live more confidently and fully. Help me to never forget how you have made me, dear God. Amen.

September 18
…You have put all things under their feet.
     Psalm 8:6

One of the most dangerous aspects of cancer is the ease in which we can become overwhelmed with our circumstances. When we fall into that abyss it often leads to paralysis, confusion and inaction. We soon believe we don’t have any options or the hope to climb out of our despair. But we do have options and we certainly have hope. God has offered us the means to meet our despair head on, the ability to overcome our distress with positive action and the capacity to seek and find answers to confront all that might destroy us.
Holy God, when I am feeling out of control and in distress, I need you more than ever. Be with me today to show me the ways you have set out for me to find help and relief. Amen.

September 19
Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant.
     Luke 1:72

We must always remember – but too quickly forget – that the promises of God are always kept. Throughout the scriptures the reminder is woven in an ongoing thread, telling us that God is endlessly faithful and relentlessly working for our deliverance and salvation. God has constantly worked to lift humanity from its despair. God has ceaselessly strived to show us a better and more satisfying way to live. We when are apt to give up on God as our difficulties surround us, we need to remember God’s promises and God’s deliverance on those promises – from the beginning of time to today.
O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, I am so blessed because of your love and help. When I recall what you have already done for me, I am assured of what you will surely do in every day ahead. Amen.

September 20
When I lie down I say, “When shall I rise?” But the night is long, and I am full of tossing until dawn.
     Job 7:4

In the long darkness of the nights there are many anxious moments of distress and fear. In those dreaded hours of sleeplessness and worry, when our minds can take us to places we desperately wish we would not go, we often plead for rest and relief. For ages God’s people have cried out, uncertain if God is listening or if God even cares. In his suffering, Job’s faith and sense of hope were severely tested. But in the end he knew beyond doubt that God did care and was present in his life. Job’s reassurance is meant for our reassurance too. In the anxious moments of our darkest nights, we can remember that God always remains here with us and will never leave.
When I am lying awake, worrying about tomorrow, fearing what will become of my life, I need your love to help me through. Help me to know the dawn will arrive and I will see light again, O God. Amen.

September 21
The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
     Isaiah 32:17

It is peace we all seek to find. It is peace joined with calmness and confidence that all of us hope to achieve. Through the chaos and confrontations of our lives there is a common yearning for tranquility that endures and serenity that reassures. When we are on the cancer journey the need for hope is very deep and constant. Today, find at least one way to create peace, calmness and confidence in your life. When you find that way, hold onto it, practice keeping it, build upon it and allow it to grow so it dominates your life.
Gracious God, I yearn for peace to grow within me. I need a change inside that will help to heal me from my fears and dis-ease. I know you are the One to help give me what I need. Amen.

September 22
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
     Matthew 6:12

The power of forgiveness cannot and must not be underestimated. Forgiveness is a profound act that is too often ignored. It frees us to move on from hurt. It enables us to rise above bitterness. It helps us to resolve anger. Holding on to negative emotions and carrying around resentments only serve to harm us. The toxic buildup we foster will weaken us emotionally, destroy us spiritually and tear us down physically. Learning to let go and practicing the art of forgiveness on a daily, consistent basis will do more for our healing than we can ever imagine.
It’s sometimes the hardest thing I have to do, O God. Trying to forgive is a constant battle. So, I pray for your love and grace to help me do what I know is best for me – to rise above the disappointments I feel. Amen.

September 23
This God – his way is perfect; the promise of the Lord proves true; he is a shield from all who take refuge in him.
     II Samuel 22:31

We are far from perfect, far from being strong and resolute enough to control our reactions to the world around us. That’s why we need God. God, who is the author of all that is ideal and best, the one eternal force in this universe that can give us everything we need. Precisely because God is eternal, God gives us timeless answers, unending help and ceaseless protection. The refuge offered by God is the refuge that will never disappoint or fail us. Praise be to God for this everlasting gift.
Dear God, I can scarcely comprehend how much you do for me. I can barely begin to recount how faithful you are to me, even when I am unfaithful to you. Thank you for sticking by me through every trial and temptation. Amen.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 10
Love is kind.
     I Corinthians 13:4b

We need to remember to be kind to ourselves when we are living with cancer. We need to make the time to care for ourselves, to rest enough, to laugh enough, to resist overdoing it enough, and to find ways to renew ourselves enough every day. To love ourselves means to understand our own needs and not to neglect them. Now, especially, is the time to love ourselves enough to say no to demands that drain and drag us down. Now is the time to say yes to the opportunities we have to refresh ourselves and create a peace and contentment that revives our spirits and lives.
More than ever, I need to be reminded of my responsibility to myself. I need to be open to the essential components that will help me find your healing. O God, I look to you and know that you want only the best for me. I need to want the best for myself too. Amen.

September 11
He said: The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer.
     II Samuel 22:2

Our own power alone is never enough to gain all that we need. Each of us requires a power beyond our own, a power that is perfect, infinite and pure. God’s power is just that. God’s power takes over where we alone cannot. It fills in the gaps, carries us through when we are weak and provides a way when we are lost. God’s power enables us to find our way out of trouble and through the darkness in our lives. God’s power gives us grace in spite of ourselves.
O God, I look to you this day because you I know that you give me everything I cannot give myself. I know your understandings are infinitely beyond mine. I ask for your understandings to empower me with hope and wholeness. Amen.

September 12
Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant.
     I Corinthians 13:4c

One gift that cancer can give is the opportunity for us to reframe our attitudes and approaches to life. The realization that life on earth is finite and fragile can serve to propel us toward healthier ways of reacting and relating to the world around us. If we love the life we have been given and love the people who share life with us, we have the blessed prospect of living more humbly, less contentiously, more gratefully and less angrily. What a gift it is to live a life where peace prevails and grace abounds. Life is tremendously richer when we understand, appreciate and accept these gifts.
Dear God, sometimes it’s hard to realize that cancer can present any gifts. But the gift of reframing our lives is a blessed one. Help me to accept this gift. Help me to use this gift in life-renewing and life-affirming ways. Amen.

September 13
My shield and the horn of my salvation.
     II Samuel 23:3b

The love of God arms us with resources we can scarcely imagine. It empowers us to face challenges we think we cannot overcome. It enables us to overcome despair in triumphant ways. It encourages us to seek life-affirming directions we have never sought before. The love of God protects us and propels us through the most difficult times in our lives. On this love we need to place our very existence. And on this love we can find the strength and resolve we need to meet every obstacle we encounter along our way.
Through every danger, toil and snare I have already come … because of you, O God, because of your everlasting love for me and my well-being. I am grateful for you – and your love – today. Amen.

September 14
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;…
     Psalm 8:5

God gives us the ability to control many things about the direction of our lives. We are deeply blessed with the gift of having choices and options. God gives us reason, free will, thought and the power to learn and grow. We have the ability to alter the course of our lives though the attitudes we possess, the support we gather around us, the kind of medical care we seek, the foods we eat, the physical activity we engage in, and the spiritual understandings we develop. All these gifts have a strong influence on our health and well-being. It is up to us to use this gift of choice and the power God gives us – to create an atmosphere of wellness in which to live.
Generous God, you have blessed me richly with gifts that can change my life for the better. Help me to use these gifts and the choices you offer on this day you have made, so that I may live in health and peace. Amen.

September 15
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
     Luke 1:46-47

When Mary learned of the daunting changes that were happening in her life, instead of running away in fear, she embraced the challenges head on. Instead of falling apart or descending into paralysis, she embraced her circumstances and looked to God to help her face them. In fact, she praised God and placed her absolute trust in God’s ability to see her through every moment along the coming way. Mary’s praise, confidence and trust were essential to her success in the challenges that lay ahead of her. An attitude of praise, confidence and trust are essential to meeting successfully our challenges, too.
I thank you for always helping me through every challenge I have. I know you will always be with me no matter what comes my way. I believe you will give me every good thing I need, O God. Amen.

September 16
They came upon me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay.
     II Samuel 22:19

When we feel knocked down, burdened, besieged, we need to remember most that we are never alone. Even when it seems as if no one understands, as if no one cares or as if no one can help, we are still enveloped in the love and grace of God. No matter how disastrous the day or how dark and lonely the night, God’s steadfast presence never falters or forsakes us. This assurance can always sustain and revive us when we are on the verge of giving up. God’s faithfulness never ends, even when we can’t see it or understand how God works.
Ever-present God, I need reassurance that you are right here with me in my fear and in my distress. Today, I pray to see you and know you in very real and evident ways. In that I am calmed and find confidence. Amen.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Week of September 3 - 9

September 3
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God.
     Isaiah 35:1-2

Deserts are not the barren, lifeless places we may often think they are. They teem with life and majesty. They may be places of harsh conditions and breathtaking extremes. But in them beauty and wonder abound. Cancer is like a desert – harsh, extreme, barren and life-depleting at times. But also, when we determine it to be, cancer can provide a means to discover new life where we saw no life before. It can be a source of joy when others lovingly and compassionately care for us. There can be beauty in the setting of new priorities, in the realization of new blessings that we ignored before. There can be wonder in the healing we seek, as we adopt healthier attitudes, activities, diets and routines. This place can be a place of majesty when we allow it to be.
Remind me, O God, of the richness of the desert. Just when I think I am lost in a place with no comfort and no hope, help me to notice the rich life that exists even there. Help me to understand there is more to know and see. Amen.

September 4
By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,…
     Luke 1:78

There are endless dark nights of the soul when we are confronted with cancer. The draining, sleepless hours fill our minds with frightening and terrible possibilities. The distracting demands of our waking doubts sap energy from us that color our attitudes all day. The negative thoughts that invade our spirits do us no good and keep us from the positive work we must do to create a healing atmosphere in our lives. It is too easy to give in to the dark impulses that bombard us. We must never forget that a healing light from God always shines on us, a light that never goes out. When we always look down upon ourselves or at the problems before us, we miss seeing the light from above. We must look up to let it bathe us in its warmth and in its healing rays.
I do not want to walk in darkness anymore. Today, dear God, I will look up to feel and see your glorious light of hope, help and peace. Thank you for this gift for my soul. Amen.

September 5
In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I called.
     II Samuel 22:7a

The first place we must go to find help and relief is to God. God already knows what we need. God is already at work in us and around us, caring for our needs and answering our calls of distress. We may turn to countless other helpers – and they may be able to provide solace and hope for us in many ways. But it is God who provides those others for us. It is God who shows us the light and the way. Our first course of action in every dilemma and in every difficult decision needs to be turning to the One who understands and knows above all others just what is best and just what is right for us this day.
I need constantly to remember that when I turn to you first, O God, I am already being set on the right path for my needs. I ask for help not to be diverted today. I ask for the wisdom to put your direction first and not my own. Amen.

September 6
To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
     Luke 1:79

Cancer is not a death sentence. Too many people think it is. But those of us who believe that God is stronger and more able than any cancer, know there is hope even in darkness and amidst the shadows that cancer brings. Today – and every day – when doubts arise and resolve is weak, center your thoughts and expectations on the One who offers a better answer, who holds out a deeper hope and who can give us a very real and abiding peace. This One lifts us from the darkness and out of the shadows and shows us a better way to face our dilemmas and dis-ease.
Lurking within me are forces that try to destroy my hope and well-being. But dear Lord, you are also within and you show me the light of healing and peace. I am grateful for your endless help today. Amen.

September 7
Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God.”
     I Samuel 2:1a

Gratitude needs to be the cornerstone of our daily lives. We must always return to giving thanks on a consistent, constant basis. When fear threatens us, when uncertainty consumes us or when pain debilitates us, it is very easy to give in to the darker forces around us. But to overcome those forces, we need to spend time being mindful of the forces of light that are infinitely stronger than any of those forces that attempt to break us down. In recounting our blessings we encounter hope and begin to experience healing deeply and profoundly.
I realize that I need to spend thoughtful, disciplined time remembering what is good within and around me. For when I do, O God, I am reminded how present and active you really are in my life. Thank you. Amen.

September 8
Love is patient.
     I Corinthians 13:4a

Patience is a hard thing to have when you don’t feel well. It’s tough to hold onto when life is uncertain and full of disappointment. But if we have a love for life, if we have love for those in our lives and if we believe that God has love for us, we can find strength in patience and serenity in our circumstances. It takes purposeful resolve to place a patient trust in what God’s love can do. But when we do, God’s love can deeply enrich our lives and richly deepen our relationships. In that, we can find the power to know our lives are worth living and fighting for.
In my impatience, help me to see, O God, the power in trusting and waiting for you to give me the best of what I need. While it’s often so hard to wait, I know when I wait in you I will surely find the answers and help I need. Amen.

September 9
He will guard the feet of his faithful ones…
     I Samuel 2:9a

When we believe in something – a goal, a mission, a treatment plan, a way of life, or a power that is greater than we are, a power that is working only for our greater good – we are given strength and ability beyond our imagination. When we believe implicitly that God is working to help us and heal us in the ways we need healing most, we can summon an amazing capacity to grow and change for the better. When we believe unreservedly in the path we are on, we open ourselves to a tremendous wealth of knowledge, renewal and joy. What a blessed gift this strong faith can be!
Dear Lord, as I place my faith in your power to guide me in the way I most need to go, I find an ever-growing encouragement and sense of hope in the days to come. I pray to summon your power today and to know without doubt your presence in my deepest needs. Amen.