Friday, January 27, 2012

Week of January 28 - February 3

January 28

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
     Psalm 40:1

Patience is one of the most difficult virtues to possess. We often do not wait patiently. We seldom like to wait at all. Especially when we are sick, our patience grows weaker and more limited with each difficult day. But just when we are most impatient, it is important to stop, to look back and to remember how God has helped us through our most troubling times, how God has delivered us day by day. It is in remembering that we have been redeemed from pain before that we will gain confidence in the hope that we can be set free again.

Dear God, I’m listening for you. I’m watching for you to reach out to me. I’m asking for your help. And I’m waiting as patiently as I can to recognize without doubt that you are looking out for me. Amen. 

January 29

… and hope does not disappoint us, …
     Romans 5:5a

Disappointments abound with cancer. First, hearing the news that we have cancer is disappointing – and distressing – enough. And then the indignities and uncertainties it forces on our lives just compound the disheartening energy cancer brings. It’s very easy to become discouraged when cancer affects us so completely. But we must not give in to the disappointment. Giving in just leads us down a negative path. Instead we must hold fast to everything that is positive, everything that stirs hope in us. Hope lifts us and revives us. It is our best resource because hope comes from God. And God will never fail or give up on us.

Your name means hope, O God. Your promises inspire hope. Your goodness proves hope is not in vain. So I reach out to you today in hope, to catch a glimpse of the healing grace you offer me. Amen.

January 30

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
     Isaiah 27:1a

Fear has a startling way of getting the best of us. It can prevent us from seeing or believing that we will ever have a better day. Fear brings dark, troubling clouds to rest over us. Fear haunts us and robs us of joy in our lives. But God is a light that penetrates fear. God unmasks fear by showing a greater and more lasting power than fear can ever show. God’s warming light moves fear into the shadows and bathes us with a calming, confident grace. When we connect with God fear is diminished and is put in its proper place.

In the moments when I realize how weak fear is and how fear weakens me I am renewed. Dear Lord, I pray for fear to lessen in me. I ask that your light drives fear from my heart today. Amen.

January 31

… I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken;
     Acts 2:25

Cancer has a way of shaking us to the core. Sometimes we shake with fear. Sometimes we shake with uncertainty. Sometimes we shake from worry. Sometimes we shake from pain. Sometimes cancer shakes us with news that stuns us and takes our breath away. Sometimes it shakes us with loneliness. Sometimes it shakes us with utter fatigue. While we may shake from it, we do not have to be broken apart by it. God is with us to show us that we do not have to go through this alone. God is so concerned for us, so invested in our well-being, that God stands with us and accompanies us every step along the way. In this faithfulness, we are assured that we can withstand anything that confronts us today.

Faithful God, it’s really easy to think I will be broken apart by the force of cancer’s power. But remind me today that your power is far greater and much more enduring. Help me to see like I’ve never seen before how strong and available you are for me. Amen.

February 1

O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you. Be our arm every morning, our salvation in the time of trouble.
     Isaiah 33:2

One key in gaining strength for the journey is to make a determined choice to rely on God as you begin every day. Don’t wait until some trouble confronts you. Don’t delay until some problem breaks you down. But start each day with the resolve to remember God’s faithfulness. Focus right away on the power of God’s presence. Commit at the first to allowing God to help you through. Anticipate that God will act and guide, for God surely will. When we believe that help is there even before we run into difficulty, the help that comes from God will already be working for us to set us on a much more positive path from the start.

I realize that when I establish my focus on you first, I am already more confident and better equipped to handle what comes my way. Dear God, I know I need to rely on you before anything else to put me in the best position to deal with all that challenges me today. Amen.

February 2

You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.
     Acts 2:28

There’s a lot about life we don’t easily understand. There’s certainly a lot about cancer that we don’t comprehend very well either. There will always be mysteries and circumstances too veiled to know. Yet, even in our incomplete view of the world and our place in it, we are given assurance after assurance that God is watching over us in ways too great to recognize from our human perspective. This unflinching care for us can be enough. It can be enough to show us that even though we don’t know everything we can rest assured in the certainty of God’s protective, loving presence in everything we need to face.

When I finally grasp that I don’t need to know or control everything I really do feel freer to rely on you for guidance and support. It’s amazing how good that can make me feel, O God. Knowing that you have things under control, and I don’t always need to, gives me a tremendous confidence and serenity. Thank you. Amen.

February 3

What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun?
     Ecclesiastes 1:3

Many of us often wonder why we got cancer. We ask, what is cancer’s purpose in our lives? What does it mean? What are we to do with it now that we have it? How can we make sense of it? Those are important questions to ask. Cancer can be used for a good purpose – to reprioritize our life, to take a look at our attitudes, to reassess our relationships, to reexamine our goals, to refocus on healthier eating, to recapture joy, to renew a passion for something, to rejuvenate the connection to our spirits. When we use cancer in this way, and refuse to allow cancer to use us, it will have a healing purpose. The effort will not be in vain.

Rather than looking at this disease as the bane of my existence, I want to look at it instead as an opportunity to change my life for the better. Dear God, I need your help to see what I can do with this. I’m looking for your guidance to show me a purposeful way. Amen.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Week of January 21 - 27

January 21

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
     Psalm 40:3a

Today take a good look at your outlook and attitudes. Do you more quickly find the good around you or do you more readily find fault? Do you more easily list the positive things in your life or do you gravitate toward recounting mostly the negative? Do you naturally see each day as an opportunity for joy and possibility or do you see mainly drudgery and debilitating challenge ahead? Healing needs a hopeful and positive environment. It requires us to view our lives and the world with joy, gratitude and grace. What are you doing within your own spirit to help nurture these qualities? Possessing them can make a transforming difference in every part of your life.

When I am inclined to complain about every little thing I don’t like, I know that I need to adjust the way I react. I pray for your help today to see a more positive way, O God. Amen.

January 22

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
     Romans 8:5

It’s too easy and all too common when we live with cancer to focus exclusively on the physical challenges we face. But our emotional, mental and spiritual natures require just as much attention. If we are constantly disheartened, if we are negative and disquieted or if we feel empty and uninspired, we do not lend strength to our physical healing. Our ultimate hope comes in creating an atmosphere where our bodies and spirits work in constant connection. Authentic healing begins to come when we understand how important it is to combine our bodies and spirits into a cohesive whole.

Help me to gain the proper perspective today, dear God. Help me to focus not just on my physical challenges, but just as much on my spirit. Help me to build it up and nurture it to be a stronger and healthier person in every way. Amen.

January 23

The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
     Isaiah 27:1b

There’s a lot to be afraid of when cancer threatens us. The future seems so uncertain. Our confidence falters. We dread that our strength may diminish. We fear that the disease may take over everything in our lives. We worry that pain may overwhelm us. We agonize that we may lose all that is dear to us. We are troubled that recurrence may occur. The list goes on and on. We can get utterly caught up in the possibilities that each day ahead might bring that we lose sight of the gifts today does bring. When we lose that perspective we lose this day. And then we can find ourselves in a downward spiral that does us no good. The challenge for us is to remember that God is a God of hopeful possibilities and that God offers those possibilities to us without fail every day.

I don’t like living in fear. I don’t like what fear brings to my everyday life. So, on this day, loving God, take my fears away and fill me instead with calm reassurance and encouraging peace. Amen.

January 24

…therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will live in hope.
     Acts 2:26

When we make a concerted effort to look for the blessings in our daily lives we can experience an astounding change in our perspective. When we determine that we will find goodness we will find it. When we make it a matter of course to express gratitude we will discover even more things for which to be grateful. When we decide to focus on the constructive aspects of our lives we will make strides in ever more healing directions. Hope is born in gratitude and appreciation. When we nurture those concrete feelings we will be amazed at how much more hopeful and confident we will be.

Whenever I look to you in thanksgiving, O God, I am sustained in greater and more special ways. I want to approach you with gratitude today and I want to make it a habit to maintain that attitude in everything I think and do. Amen.

January 25

May the Lord give strength to his people! May the Lord bless his people with peace!
     Psalm 29:11

Strength and peace. They are two of the most significant blessings of life. They are very essential to possess when we are living with cancer. We need to stand firmly upon a foundation of strength in order to meet the challenges upon us. We need to rest confidently in an embrace of peace to know that we are loved and cared for. We must never forget that God is the ultimate source of both strength and peace. God’s strength is unbreakable. God’s peace is eternal. God offers both gifts to us in endless ways. Through every difficulty that stands in our way, we need to reach out for these gifts that will reinforce us in ways nothing else can.

When I am weak and tired and worn down, dear God, I need the blessed assurance of your power and tranquility. When I feel them I am uplifted and renewed. What great hope is mine when I have them in my life! Amen.

January 26

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
     2 Corinthians 9:15

What gifts do you have in your life today? What fills your heart with joy? What can make your spirit overflow with love? What gives you energy? What upholds you with hope? Where do you see yourself being supported and helped in ways that are remarkable to you? All these are gifts, gifts from a God who has made you and who loves you beyond your comprehension. Think about these things. Recite them over and over again. Keep a “gratitude journal”, whether it’s written down on paper or kept in the front of your mind. But keep a constant reminder of the beauty and blessings in your life. Those blessings will sustain you. Those blessings will empower and lift you in moments difficult and hard to face.

Dear God, there are too many moments that wear me down. But when I remember your gifts to me I am delivered to something better. I am grateful for your gifts. They sustain me in ways I can scarcely begin to count. Amen.

January 27

As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain.
     2 Corinthians 6:1

There is great certainty in this - God loves each of us very much. In fact, God loves each of us more than we can even begin to know. God loves us so much even though there are many times we are unlovable. Even when we doubt God, even when we don’t follow God and even when we go against God, we are still loved unwaveringly and unconditionally by God. This is grace – a gift we don’t deserve. Yet it is true. This gift, when we accept it, can be an amazing source of reassurance and strength for us. On this journey that often brings distressing fear and disappointment, the knowledge of God’s love and unwavering care can be of great comfort and peace.

Gracious God, comforting God, in my fear I turn to you. When I am disappointed I call to you. I reach out to you to remind me of my valued place in your heart. Your grace is an astounding gift and I know I need to accept it to be whole. Amen.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Week of January 14 - 20

January 14

…for God’s temple is holy and you are that temple.
     I Corinthians 3:17b

Undoubtedly, when we don’t feel well, we don’t feel much like a temple of God. It’s hard to feel holy when pain does not go away, when sleep does not come or when our bodies no longer can do the things they have always done before. It’s hard to feel like a reflection of God when our hope is diminished, our outlook is downbeat or our dreams seem defeated. Yet, no matter how low we feel and how uncertain we are, we are reassured of this:
God made us and understands our every need;
in God’s understanding, God is deeply involved in meeting those needs;
even though we do not always recognize how God may be at work for us, we can know that God is caring for us in ways too profound to number.
This intimate care is a reflection of God’s love, a sign of our holiness in God’s eyes.

Holy God, by creating me in your divine image you announce that you want neither harm nor defeat to mark my life. In my darkest moments with disease and despair, I need to be reminded of your love. And I’m glad that you do. Amen.

January 15

The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish …
     2 Peter 3:9

We want what we want when we want it. That’s natural and human. But in our humanness we fail to remember that we don’t know everything. One of the most difficult things for us to consider is God’s infinite knowledge about our needs and the larger picture surrounding us. We show this most with our impatience. We hate to wait. We beg for relief, we cry for better answers and we tell God what to do. Our limited understandings and perspectives and our preconceived ideas often close our minds and hearts to God’s better plans and more perfect timing. But when we remember that God wants nothing more than our well-being and healing, we can remain assured that in the best timing we will be blessed with every one of our needs.

Waiting and trusting in you to show me your better way are the hardest things I have to do, loving God. Teach me your patience. Assure me of your devotion. Help me to know your perfect care – even in the face of my fear and doubt. Amen. 

January 16

And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
     1 John 5:14

God responds to our needs with only the best of answers. Because God sees and knows far beyond anything we are able to, God’s response to our needs may be far different than anything we may think is best or expect. With cancer there is often a lot of pleading to God, a lot of bargaining with God to change the realities confronting us. And far too often many of us pull back from God because we think – wrongly – that God is not attentive or that God does not care. We must always keep in the forefront of our minds that God knows even more intimately than we do just what we need to find strength and healing. Don’t be afraid to pour out to God what’s on your mind and what’s in your heart. But also don’t be afraid to listen with a more open and receptive spirit for what God has in store for you. What God has arranged is far more wonderful than anything we can devise or imagine on our own.

I need to open my spirit to you, O Lord. I need to be open to receiving and accepting your will. I need to remember that what you give is always what is right and best for me. Amen. 

January 17

May mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
     Jude 2

Mercy – compassion, kindness, forgiveness, understanding.
Peace – calm, tranquility, harmony, serenity.
Love – affection, devotion, care, concern.
To respond to cancer with confidence and strength, we need these gifts in supreme abundance. We can’t thrive without them. Seek them out. Surround yourself with those who share those gifts and who are examples of them. Treasure them when you find them. Nurture them. Hold onto them with gratitude and grace. They are your best hope to begin creating wellness in your life.

I hold onto you, dear God, because you are my best example of mercy, peace and love. You show me what they mean. You provide these healing blessings in my life. What wonderful gifts they are! Amen. 

January 18

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
     Hebrews 13:16

Cancer survivors realize that they need to give as well as receive. It is dangerous when we get so caught up in our own limitations and struggles. As we retreat further and further within ourselves, we lose a vital perspective about the larger world. We forget that there is life beyond cancer. But it is by reaching out, by opening ourselves up to others and their lives and by sharing our gifts and blessings, we begin to grow and change in significant ways. Soon, as we look beyond ourselves, we experience new ideas, new answers and new attitudes, so many that are positive and good. This is the beginning of our healing. It is what we are created to do. It is an essential part of our hope.

I can all too easily get caught up in my own problems. I can get so self-absorbed that I miss the joy and love around me. So today, O God, I will try to look beyond myself to see a better perspective. Today, I ask for your help. Amen.

January 19

But we are not among those who shrink back and so are lost, but among those who have faith and so are saved.
     Hebrews 10:39

A significant factor in healing is determination. It is determination that is a true survival trait. Determination is strength of mind and purpose, a resolve which comes from within; from the inner well-spring of power that God has given to all of us. Determination is a healing tool, empowering us to find courage and stamina, enabling us to act when we need to. It delivers us from the immobilization of passivity. It is the gift God gives us to help us follow God’s will. Determination is a by-product of our faith, an acceptance of God’s guidance and a willingness to go where God leads.

My faith in you gives me strength, O Lord. It helps me to have courage and gives me the guidance I need to find my way on this journey. I am so blessed by the help you give me and I offer you my thanks for all you do. Amen. 

January 20

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
     Ephesians 5:11

It’s amazingly easy to go down the path of complaint and disillusionment. Cancer has an innate way of taking over our lives and robbing us of its goodness and joy. But only if we let it. Yes, cancer is tough to deal with. But don’t give it more than it is due. Don’t give in to its darker powers. Recognize when it’s taking over. Confront it when it’s creating an unwelcome imbalance in your life. Acknowledge its impact. Meet it head on. But choose to reveal its imperfect ways. And choose as well to minimize its place by deciding to be well and live well again.

It does me no good to focus only on things I see as wrong, O God. So I turn this day over to you to help me see with great clarity all that is right as well. Amen.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Week of January 7 - 13

January 7

For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.
     Isaiah 60:2

In this life there will always be times when difficulties and dilemmas confront us. Even when much is going well there is always something to bring darkness to our lives. All around us – and often within – we each struggle in our own ways with uncertainties, fears, unpleasant realities and regrets. In the darkness that descends when cancer enters our lives it often becomes impossible to see any light or any hope in our circumstances. But this passage reminds us no matter how dark or hopeless it may seem, that God is working to lift us, protect us, help us, deliver us and save from defeat and despair.

I can hardly comprehend how deeply you watch over me and how carefully you look after my needs. Yet even in my limited understanding of your deep love, I am reassured that your grace gives me everything I need, O God. Amen. 

January 8

For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself; now I cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.
     Isaiah 42:14

Many of us try to be tough and stoic when we are dealing with cancer. We don’t like to be a burden or we find it hard to accept much of the help and care we really need. While strength and resolve are certainly good traits to possess, there are times when we just need to let go of our toughness and let our feelings out. There can be nothing more satisfying than to just share what we are going through. There can be nothing more helpful than to pour out our frustrations, resentments, anxieties and deepest concerns to someone we trust. It is genuinely healing to be able to express what is truly on our hearts and minds. This kind of confession is truly good for our health and our souls.

In reality, dear God, I know you already understand my deepest fears and needs even before I do. You are already reaching out to alleviate my pain and direct my path. I’m so grateful you know me so well. Help to share my most intimate thoughts so that I will understand myself much better too. Amen. 

January 9

Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it:
     Isaiah 42:5

The creator of this world and our lives is the source of everything we have and all that we need. When God created this world God declared all creation to be good. God’s spirit of love, hope, peace, joy and eternity has been created within each of us. And within each of us there exists a wellspring of possibility and promise that we need to draw from as we live with cancer. Within us all there is already a power to heal that few of us realize exists. God has placed it there. Just knowing that we are made with God’s spirit within us gives us a tremendous built-in capacity to find renewal and restoration exactly when we need them most.

God of renewal, God of restoration, help me to see and use the power you have already created within me to find the strength I need today. Amen. 

January 10

I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.
     Isaiah 42:6

Isaiah continues to reaffirm God’s deep concern and love for us. God creates virtue and goodness within us. God guides us by the hand and watches over us to protect us from the ravages of disease and pain. God has made eternal promises to us to always stay with us. God has made us to share love and hope to a world often plunged in darkness and despair. All this can serve as blessed reassurance that no matter how difficult our journey with cancer may be, we have God to help us deal with it, travel through it and rise above it.

To know that I am never left to face this – or any - day alone is of great comfort to me, O God. I know you have made a promise to always be with me and I am so grateful for that. Amen.

January 11

To open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
     Isaiah 42:7

Because God loves us so much, God wants us to see all that is best for us. Because God wants us to live in joy and peace, God wants us to be released from all the chains that bind us from living fully and well. Because God is a God of light and illumination, God wants us to come out from the darkness that clouds our thinking, restrains our spirits and inhibits our souls. God does not want cancer to blind us to hope, imprison us to fear or plunge us into distress. Please know that these things need not be the final word for any of us. But know that a clearer, freer and brighter day awaits – with God as our guide.

Open my eyes that I may see all the truth and healing you have for me, dear God. I need your vision and your perspective today. Amen.

January 12

See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.
     Isaiah 42:9

God wants us to be renewed. God wants us to be restored. God wants us to be revitalized. God wants us to be refreshed. And God doesn’t want us to have to wait to begin to see, know and realize the new life we are able to achieve. Even before we begin to understand the goodness that is in store for us, God is letting us know that it is coming. This promise of coming goodness can serve as a vital sign of hope for us. Cancer often robs us of our hope and we have to struggle to regain it again. These words remind us not to give up on hope. They remind us to rely on the very real dawn of a new day where all that confronts and threatens us melts blessedly away.

On this new day of life, I cling to the vision you share of better days for me. I hold onto the assurance that I can rise above my troubles and triumph over my pain. Dear God, your promises give power to this day. Amen. 

January 13

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
     I Corinthians 3:16

Each of us is very special and important to God. God created us lovingly, carefully, and intricately. We have been made in the divine image of God, filled with potential for wonder, goodness and joy. The purpose of our lives is to reflect God’s love and grace, to use our lives as a witness to God’s eternal gifts of peace and hope. Even when we are confronted with cancer - especially when we are confronted with cancer – it is essential for us to remember how extraordinary and significant we are. When disease puts us to a fundamental test, knowing how vital we are in God’s eyes can give us the confidence we need to face our challenges with steadfastness, trust and resolve.

Sometimes I don’t feel so significant, when I’m worn down, broken and afraid. But I begin to feel so much better when I am reminded of your deep love. You know me beyond compare. I am deeply grateful for your devotion and care, O God. Amen.