Thursday, October 27, 2011

Week of October 29 - November 4

October 29

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.
     Psalm 3:5

Each new day of life is a precious gift from God. Most of us know that in our minds. But we don’t always live and react like we do. Many cancer survivors reflect on the fragileness and uncertain pathways of life. They realize that each breath we take and each step we make are granted to us by a loving, caring creator, a creator who wants us to find goodness and joy in each of them. Never forget that God has given you a special and wondrous gift with this day. Always know that God is with you to sustain you and to share blessings with you in every moment you have on this earth.

When my eyes open each new morning, I am reminded that the day is a gracious gift from you. I pray to use this gift gratefully and joyfully for you, O God. Amen.

October 30

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;…
     Psalm 6:2a

Understanding is something all of us need on this journey with cancer. We need to understand just what is happening to us. We need others to understand what is happening to us too. And we need to understand how God is working to see us through this uncertain and difficult time. There are times when we’re tired, worn down, afraid, confused, angry and feeling all alone. There is so much we don’t know. And all we ask is for patience in our doubt, grace in our weakness and encouragement in our struggles.

When I don’t live up to my own hopes and expectations and when I have a hard time forgiving myself, I know you offer grace to me, O God. Thank you for being more understanding of me than I am to myself. I pray that others can understand me a little better too. I need that today. Amen.

October 31

His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.
     Habakkuk 3:2c,d

If God is the author of love, peace and grace, all the wonderful gifts that bring blessings and meaning to our lives, then we need to be reminded of that. We need to be open in every way to seeing and experiencing the glories and wonders of God’s creation. On this journey with cancer we especially need to feel the splendor of God’s goodness toward us. In understanding God’s generous gifts, we can begin to claim authentic healing of our spirits, bodies and minds.

Let me see the amazing glory of this life you have given to me, O Lord. Let me know the joy of your creation today. In that I can experience your power and promise. Amen.

November 1

I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,…
     Ephesians 3:18

The saints who have gone before us are not called “saints” because they were perfect people. No, they are deemed saints even with their imperfections. As we look closely at their lives we see people who have been afraid, selfish, weak, complicated and sometimes wrong. They have been much like all of us. But they are called saints because even though they were imperfect, they placed their lives in the care of a loving God in spite of their fears and vulnerabilities. Even when they lived with doubt, they still reached out to live with God in hope of God’s deliverance and help. In doing so they found wonder and eternity. So can we.

I have a lot of uncertainties, dear God, and there are days when I just don’t know what is real and what is not. I pray to you that I may come to see and understand your promises and your plan for me. Amen.

November 2

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with you.
     Psalm 5:4

If we ever think that God wants us to have cancer, to suffer or to be in pain, we are wrong. God is a God of healing, of comfort, of wholeness and of restoration. The scriptures continually remind us of God’s desire to have us experience the peace that passes understanding. God is not the author of evil, but the author of goodness. God does not want us to be resigned to evil, but to rise above evil in every way. Be confident today that God wants only your healing to be realized – in whatever ways you need healing the most. This present suffering is only temporary. But God’s healing is eternal.

On my bad days I struggle to believe that there are answers to help me rise above my fear and pain. But I want this to be a better day and I pray, O God, for the confidence to remember that you only want the very best for me. Amen.

November 3

For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.
     Ephesians 5:8

God does not want us to live in the darkness that leads to fear or to despair. Instead God wants us to be certain of where we are going and certain of our ability to find the way we need to go. Living in darkness creates bad choices and fosters within us a sense of hopelessness and ignorance. But God wants us to know there are always hopeful choices to consider and confident directions to be taken in this journey we are on. Walking in the light inspires assurance and promise for the better answers we seek.

At times, dear God, there are dark moments in my soul that burden me with uncertainty and dread. I yearn for your light to show me your brighter, better way for me. Help me to follow your light today. Amen.

November 4

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice, let them ever sing for joy;
     Psalm 5:11a

Possessing a spirit of joy is essential on this journey with cancer. Joy is an amazing gift from God. Joy is a spirit of trust, confidence and calm that helps us transcend all the challenges we face. Joy grants us serenity in spite of the turmoil within and around us. Joy infuses us with a sense of well-being even as we face the most difficult problems. Joy is a refuge in times of trouble. Joy is a balm that soothes our souls no matter what threatens our lives. Joy enables us to rise above our physical circumstances to experience hope and peace. That is a gift in which we truly can rejoice.

O Lord, I need this joy in my life today. I cannot be knocked down and pushed around and survive without the refuge you give. I’m looking to you today to help me find your joy alive in everything I do. Amen.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Week of October 22 - 28

October 22
Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
     Colossians 3:13

Our ability to forgive always needs more work. Nothing is harder for us to do. The act of forgiving ourselves and others of their shortcomings takes diligent time, effort and care. But it is the most important action we can take. We cannot be reminded enough how vital it is to allow the burdens of our hearts and minds to be lifted so that God can take them for us. Authentic healing is dependent on the release and relief forgiveness can bring. Where there are grudges, hostilities and bitter feelings, they must be resolved for us to be as strong as we need to be to heal in every way.
I know you forgive me over and over again. Dear God, I am not so good at that and I ask for your help in letting go and letting you carry the burdens for me. I need your grace – both for myself and to share. Amen.

October 23
Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing.
     Psalm 5:1

Is God listening? Does God care? Will God act to help us? How can God let us suffer as we do? All are typical questions when we are in the midst of cancer and its aftermath. Sometimes the answers don’t seem very evident. Sometimes God does seem to be silent, unresponsive and unconcerned. When we feel as if we are all alone in this struggle, the answer is not in giving up on believing or on reaching out to God. Like the ancient psalmist we must continue to call for God’s answer. It is in faithful calling and then in attentive and active listening when the answers we need will come.
I ask and I ask and there are times I do not hear your voice. Lord, help me to know when you respond. Help me to recognize your answer to me when it comes. I do not want to miss the help and guidance you give. Amen.

October 24
Indeed, we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
     James 5:11

Even when we are uncertain that God cares or is aware of our suffering, we are reminded of Job, who symbolizes human suffering for us all. Job endured horror after horror and loss after loss. His friends questioned God’s care. But Job never gave up or gave in to the despair. He held firmly onto the belief that God would prevail for him. And indeed God did. His steadfast hope in a loving God who would deliver him beyond his distress gave him deliverance, restored him to new life and rewarded his hope. We need the hope of Job to lift us beyond our fears and above our disease.
I don’t know if I can have the patience, sometimes, God, to wait for you to help me. So I ask for it, because I so rarely have it on my own. Please share it with me today. I need it so much. Amen.

October 25
Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
     Matthew 11:28

Cancer wears us out. It depletes us. It distresses us. Sometimes it feels as if it will destroy us. When you get so worn down you don’t know where to turn, turn to God. Turn back to God. Turn around to God. Turn toward God who is big enough to carry every burden for you. Turn to the One who will care for you in ways no one else can. Turn to have your weariness taken away. Turn to be revived in ways only God can do.
There are times when I am so tired I don’t know how I can go on. Dear Lord, refresh me and restore me. Don’t let me give up. Give me relief and give me rest so I may start all over again. Amen.

October 26
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, …
     Matthew 6:19

Cancer often causes us to look closely at our priorities. It forces us, at times, to examine where we place our trust, our expectations and our hopes. It can compel us to reevaluate our deepest values and cherished principles. That look within ourselves can be very healing. In that closer examination of our lives’ treasured beliefs, it can help us to break away from things that do not satisfy and to find new ways of living that do. Take this day to look within and begin a renewed journey to a more fulfilling life.
Dear God, I know your wish for me is to find all that is eternal and everlasting. Yet there are days when I am bogged down in so much that is trivial and temporary. Help me today to refocus on what really matters – with you. Amen.

October 27
…but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.
     Matthew 6:20

What really does matter in this life? What are the “treasures in heaven” God is offering to you? What are the eternal wonders that cannot be taken from you by disease, difficulty or the incredible dilemmas of this life? Think about what satisfies you deep down in your soul. What are the feelings that give you immense joy and contentment? What are the moments that you don’t want to end? Who are the people who bring you intense warmth and grace? What are the connections you make that fill you with satisfaction and peace of mind? Those are your treasures. Hold on to them. Be grateful for them. Cherish them.
I am grateful, O God, for the things and relationships that satisfy my soul. Many times I don’t appreciate them enough. But I know they are what you want me to savor and enjoy. Today I will. Amen.

October 28
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
     Matthew 6:21

What is most important to you? Where do you spend most of your time? What do you wish for most? Where do you give most of your effort? Think about these things. What is your life about? Is the legacy you are leaving one you are proud of? Can you look at your life’s direction with joy and pride? Do you think you are the person God created you to be? In your heart, do you know and see in yourself a blessed reflection of God’s goodness and grace? What is your treasure and how has cancer compelled you to examine your life to focus your life on the things that really matter?
Gracious God, generous God, I look at myself and there are some things I love. There are also some things I need to change. Help me today to discern how my priorities can be more in touch with you. Amen.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Week of October 15 - 21

October 15

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will exult in the God of my salvation.
     Habakkuk 3:18

To place our deepest hope in the One who knows the depth of eternity is to set ourselves on the strongest foundation of all. God wants only the best for us – to have life and to have it abundantly. God offers the abundance to us and invites us to delight in it. How will you delight in this day God has given to you? How will you accept the love that lifts you above the everyday turmoil of this world? How will you react to challenges in a more healthy way? How will you find sacred meaning in even the most routine of tasks? When we think purposefully about these things each day – and strive to do them - we will be amazed at the peace we will begin to achieve.

Help me to rethink the way I approach each day, O God. Help me to look at challenges and frustrations in a more positive way. Help me to react to them in a manner that lifts me higher, not pulls me down. I look for your guidance to set me on this better way. Amen.

October 16

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
     Colossians 3:2

What are the things that “are above”? Among them are hope, peace, joy and love. They are eternal; the things that last forever, that cannot be destroyed by time, circumstance or place. Hope through God never dies. Peace deep within our souls can never be destroyed. Joy imbedded in our hearts will never be taken away. Love filling our lives with rich and abiding meaning can never be overcome by disease and distress. If we seek these things above all else, we will surely find ourselves transcending – rising above – all the difficult and temporary challenges of this life.

When we seek first your kingdom, O God, we are promised a new outlook and a new understanding of the importance of our lives. I pray for a glimpse of your eternal wonders today. I need it to put my priorities in the right place. Amen.

October 17

I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
     Psalm 4:8

Cancer can too often give us many long and restless nights of worry and fear. But worry and fear do not bring encouragement and hope. Our challenge is to acknowledge the things that trouble us. But it is also to release those troubles and bring our minds to more positive and hopeful places. Give yourself a few moments to ponder the worries when they creep in. But resolve each time they do to give them only a very small amount of your time. Then move on to thoughts that bring you encouragement and joy. Move on to thoughts of promise and peace. Stay in those thoughts as long and as often as you can. They will offer you respite and bring you more gentle rest and relief.

The many nights when I lie awake in anxiety and alarm do me no good, I know. So, O God, I look to you to help me with the challenge of setting boundaries for worry and for opening up the doors for calm and release to come in. Amen.

October 18

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
     Matthew 11:30

So many of our troubles come from thinking we must do all the work of survival on our own. Too many days spent feeling overwhelmed is a result of us believing we are on this journey by ourselves. Feeling that we are overburdened and alone responsible for every aspect of our healing is natural for most of us. But we are not meant to stay feeling that way. God means for us to know deeply within our souls that we are not alone with this cancer. God wants us to know there is help. God wants us to know there are answers. God wants us to know there are others who can share the walk with us. God wants us to know that God, above all, is here to carry us when we need it most.

It’s incredible, dear God, when I reach out beyond myself I feel the burdens lifting. When I am open to allowing the touch of others to bless me I find relief. When I listen for you and allow you to guide me I find myself in a more hopeful place. Thank you. Amen.

October 19

“He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
     Matthew 8:17b

We are created in God’s image. God knows us intimately and perfectly. God wants us to find relief and release for our disease and pain. Because God understands us so fully, God is the one to whom we need to connect to know how we can best find help. God’s business is about offering us healing, hope and new life. God does not want us to suffer and neither does God want us to live in despair. We need to know and believe deeply within our souls that God’s purposes are only for our everyday and eternal best.

In love you have made me. In love you exist to save me – from myself, from my fears and from my distress. I will live confidently today because of this deep love for me, dear God. Amen.

October 20

You gave me room when I was in distress.
     Psalm 4:1b

Because God understands us so wonderfully, God also understands the struggles and vulnerabilities we have. In this understanding, God is very patient with us, giving us infinite grace when we fail, when we are weak or when we are not the people we have been created to be. Others may not truly understand when we are too tired, when we are impatient ourselves or when we just need to be alone. But we are fortunate people. Even when those around us don’t know how to react to us or truly help us, God reaches out to offer us every blessing we need.

Thank you, God, for knowing me even more than I know myself. Thank you for giving me more than I deserve. Thank you for reaching out to me even when I cannot reach out to anyone, even you. Amen.

October 21

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, …
     Ephesians 3:20

We cannot begin to envision how much God can do for us. We cannot begin to imagine how much God loves us. God’s power and love are so vast and infinite. Because of our own limited understandings we actually limit how God can act in our lives. To find healing and hope we need to be open to the unimaginable power of God to break into our lives and give us far more than we can comprehend. We limit the answers God gives by limiting what we think God can do. Don’t go to God in prayer with preconceived answers about how God should respond. But go to God with a spirit open to accepting God’s amazing power and limitless love. You will be in awe of what can happen.

I come to you with an open heart, O God, ready to receive all that you give to me. I know your help is far greater than anything I can perceive. Amen.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Week of October 8 - 14

October 8
Be at peace among yourselves.
     1 Thessalonians 5:13b

Survivors pay special attention to their relationships and assess the health of those relationships. For authentic healing and well-being, it is essential that each of our relationships is positive, provides support, brings joy and is mutually respectful. While no relationship will ever be perfect, as no human is perfect; it becomes vitally important to nurture relationships that add to our sense of contentment and thanksgiving. Relationships that drain us, add unnecessary stress, take advantage of us or cause us pain need to be examined and changed in whatever ways are possible. Healing is greatly enhanced when we are at peace. Seeking and establishing peace among those we encounter every day is a tremendous boost to our health and spirit.
Oh to be at peace with everyone in my life. O God, it’s often so very hard to do. But peace is your name. So I come to you to show me the way to establish your peace, in your name, today. Amen.

October 9
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
     Matthew 5:6

The search for what is right, for what is good and for what is eternally true is a noble and worthwhile search. Because when we look for these wonderful gifts from God we will begin to find them. Throughout the cancer journey there is so much we can discover that is wrong, that is bad and that is uncertain. Finding those things only leaves us diminished and discouraged. But the search for the very real presence of God in our lives, a search for blessings and wonders that we begin to discover are far too numerous to number, will fill us with hope, with promise and with increasingly positive expectations. In that we find our spirits lifted and our outlook greatly improved.
Too often I’m looking at what is difficult and overlooking what is going well in this journey. My need today, O God, is to have a clearer vision of the countless things you are doing to help me find authentic healing every day. Amen.

October 10
The Lord lives! Blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation.
     2 Samuel 22:47

To believe in a God who actively cares for us provides a deep well of support. When we hold onto the promise that God loves us and only wants the best for us, we are able to tap into a stream of hope that refreshes and revives us in untold ways. When we nurture a trust in God’s ability to be a steadfast source of help and in God’s desire to offer us recovery and deliverance, we begin to experience blessings and joy we never understood before.
When I rely on your helping, healing presence to guide my days, I am filled with greater hope than ever before, dear God. I resolve today to place my trust in you, the strongest foundation I can find. Amen.

October 11
No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house.
     Matthew 5:15 

It is essential that we share the blessings we have been given. It is in sharing that we receive far more than we give. In a dark and difficult world, it is far too easy to see only the disappointments and frustrations around us. But that only makes our vision darker. Yet when we allow the light that does pierce the darkness to shine from us and through us, we change not only our own outlook, but also begin to influence the understandings of those around us. There are untold blessings in our midst. We can illuminate them and allow them to illuminate us to see the greater hope that God provides.
You put a light within me, O God, which warms and helps me every day. Even when I travel through this valley of illness, I realize I can help to shine that light all around me. As you bless me, help me to be a blessing to others in return. Amen.

October 12
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.
     Matthew 4:16

Darkness quickly descends on our spirits when cancer enters our lives. But darkness doesn’t have to remain. God reaches out to us to –
• give clarity to us,
• take fear from us,
• present peace of mind to us,
• offer direction for us, and
• bring healing to us.
God holds out a light and shines it before us to show us that we do not have to stumble and stagger into a dark and forbidding void. Instead we can begin to walk assuredly into a brand new and brighter day.
God of brighter days, when I am low and discouraged, I need your light to shine in the darkness of my soul. Pierce my doubts. Push away my disappointments. Protect me from my despair. Amen.

October 13
For this I will extol you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to your name.
     2 Samuel 22:50

Gratitude. We must come back to it every day. To affect a positive change in our outlook, our attitude and our well-being, we must devote time consistently to thanking God for God’s love and care for us. Give thanks right now for this day, for the life you have been given today to enjoy it. Give thanks for the sunshine, the rain, the home in which you are able to live. Give thanks for those who care about you and for you. Give thanks for the moments of release when you laugh, when you cry, when you have a burden lifted from your heart. Give thanks for unexpected blessings and for blessings when expectations were met. Just give thanks. For everything you can. As often as you can. Your life will change when you do.
I give you thanks today, O God, with a grateful heart, a heart full of amazement and joy. The more I seek what is a blessing to me, the more I realize I cannot finish counting the ways you enter my life to heal it. Amen.

October 14
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you.
     Philippians 1:3-4

In all of our lives are people who love us. We cannot travel this pathway alone. Each of us needs the healing touch of others who love us and who only want the best for us. Not only do they help to provide care for our bodies, but they also nurture our spirits and souls. The support they give is invaluable. Take time to name those who are essential to your care and well-being. Take time to thank them for all they do. Take time to thank God for providing them in our lives and for working through them to bring hope and encouragement to each day.
I know I do not thank you enough, dear Lord, for those people you bring to me who love and care for me. But I take this moment today to begin to renew my expressions of gratitude for them and for all they do to give deeper meaning to my life. Amen.