Friday, February 24, 2012

Week of February 25 - March 2

February 25

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness.”
     Luke 11:34

How do you look at your circumstances right now? How do you define yourself because of cancer? How do you see your life evolving and your future developing in relation to it? Your outlook has a tremendous influence on your health. If you approach this disease with fear and trepidation you will certainly encounter great anxiety and uncertainty. If you decide you will have significant problems you most surely will. But if you determine that you will discover better days and encounter moments of hope, you also surely will. And if you see possibility and promise in your situation, an opportunity to change for the better, you will certainly find more wonder and grace than you can ever imagine.

I’m looking for the light you offer, dear God. I’m searching for days of goodness and a future filled with healing. Help me not to descend into darkness, but instead to find the reality of better days. Amen.

February 26

“Therefore consider whether the light in you is not darkness.”
     Luke 11:35

Take a good, hard look at yourself to understand where your attitudes really lie. What are your expectations? Do you really believe you can find the healing you seek? Are you engaged with every fiber of your being in seeking a life where creating wellness is the defining characteristic of your life? Sometimes we harbor despair deeply within or really don’t believe we can overcome the cancer in our lives. Sometimes we create instead an attitude of defeat and disappointment, which ultimately does us no good. We need to examine our deepest feelings to know where our real feelings lie. We need to find the light and extinguish the darkness within us in every way we can. Doing so will begin to change our lives in wonderfully significant ways.

There are times when I really don’t know if I have the hope I need. There are times when my confidence wavers and my attitude is poor. Dear God, help me to know when I am giving in to darkness and to instead reach out for the light. Amen.

February 27

“If then your whole body is full of light, with no part of it in darkness, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its rays.”
     Luke 11:36

It happens when you are confident of your medical care. It happens when you know you are eating well and healthily. It happens when you find a source of exercise that is fun and brings you joy. It happens when your attitude is positive and full of hope. It happens when you have a system of support surrounding you that is comforting and secure. It happens when your spirit is nurtured in a way that transports you beyond yourself and lifts you to a higher, more eternal place. What happens is an integration of your body, your mind and your spirit that helps healing to take root in your life. Nurture all these things. Help them to work closely together. Understand that doing this is utterly important to help you find the light you need.

I’m looking for your light to work through me, O God. I’m looking for your light to surround me. I’m looking for your light to shine from me – your light of hope, your light of grace, your light of healing. Amen.

February 28

Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”
     Isaiah 2:3

We cannot deal with cancer all by ourselves. We need the support and help of many others to lift us through every challenging day. Most importantly we need the wisdom and understanding of God to guide and strengthen us. It is imperative to under gird all our days with a source of healing and hope that is powerfully enduring, that connects us with eternity and that has everlasting promise. God does have a plan for us to find healing and to know the hope that comes from this assurance. There is a path that each of us can travel and that path is made smoothest for us when God is allowed to be our point of reference and support. How are you accepting the access God gives you to better answers and greater hope?

God of goodness and help, show me your ways and tell me your answers. Give me your guidance and share with me your joy. I really need them to show me a better way. Amen.

February 29

Whoever digs a pit will fall into it; …
     Ecclesiastes 10:8

How common it is to descend into a chasm of doubt, despair, depression and despondency when we are confronted with cancer. So often we lose our confidence. We harbor sorrow. We become defined by sadness. We live in gloom. But our challenge is to not stay down in the chasms. Our challenge instead is to find every way we can to climb out of the depths that keep us down, that keep us mired in self-pity, that enable us to freeze in fear and that keep us defeated by paralyzing uncertainty. Don’t allow yourself to be immobilized or defined by things that keep you from hope, help or healing. Your life depends on rising above the difficulties and going on in spite of them.

The tendency for me to get discouraged is so easy, O God. I can fall into negativity very quickly and can stay there all too long. I need you to show me how to stay focused on a positive attitude and a hopeful outlook. Sometimes it the hardest thing I have to overcome. Amen.

March 1

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for your harm, to give you a future with hope.
     Jeremiah 29:11

God has only the best in mind for us. God wants only what is good for us. God has created us only for wonder and joy and love. But sometimes we forget that when we are consumed by disease and distress. But these words serve plainly to remind us that God’s will is not for us to suffer, to languish or to live in pain. But, indeed, God’s will is for us know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a future given to us that is bright with hope and promise, rich with possibility and peace. God’s plan is for our healing - wherever we need healing most. Do not despair that the days to come will be dark and disappointing. Instead look ahead with anticipation and expectation, because God has great plans for you!

Gracious, loving God, my future is in your hands, and I know your hands are creating for me something wondrous and great. Help me to see, if only a glimpse, the goodness you have planned for me. I need that affirmation today. Amen.

March 2

The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.
     Psalm 23:1

In ancient times, when this psalm was written, those who heard these words would have instinctively known how significant the image of a shepherd was. A shepherd would protect and guide his sheep. A shepherd would lift them from dangerous places and carry them when they could not walk themselves. A shepherd would literally put himself between a dangerous predator and his sheep, placing himself in harm’s way for them. A shepherd’s job was to make certain that no sheep would be lost and that every one would make it back home safely. God is like a shepherd. God will do anything for us to help and save us. God wants none of us to be harmed or lost. With this kind of God we will not lack anything we need, no matter how hard the journey.

With you as my shepherd, caring God, I am reminded that I need never be lost. When I find myself confused and feeling alone, not certain which way to go, not sure if there is any hope, you come to carry and protect me. I am much better for that. Amen.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Week of February 18 - 24

February 18

I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
     Romans 9:2

Some days are just bad. No matter how much hope we have. No matter how much strength we possess. No matter how much support surrounds us. No matter what anyone says, sometimes we simply have rotten days. On those days the best thing to do is acknowledge the struggle. Sometimes all we can do is open up to the truth and pour out our fear and pain – especially to God, who already knows and understands. It is particularly important to be honest with ourselves just how bad we feel. In those starkly honest moments of realization and openness we begin to feel the healing balm of relief because of the release we allow ourselves to have.

Sometimes I just can’t hide how difficult it is, just how lousy I feel. Dear God, I know you understand and I know you will help me. I just can’t do this by myself. Amen.

February 19

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good;
     Romans 12:9

It’s a struggle to keep positive when we’re dealing with cancer. It’s not easy to maintain a focus on hope when so much around and within us points toward harmful, threatening things. Yet staying positive is exactly what we need to do. Creating and maintaining an attitude of affirmation is an essential component to healing. Knowing what is bad for us is essential too. To understand what works for us and what does not can help us immensely to navigate the turbulence and challenge of cancer.

I need your help to show me what is good for me and what is not. Dear God, I don’t always get it right. But when I rely more on you I discover that I can see more clearly to find my way. Amen. 

February 20

Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.
     Romans 12:10

Focus on what is good. Concentrate on finding the tremendous value in everyone important to you. Commit to expressing your gratitude on a constant basis. Putting yourself in a positive mental place will only enhance and support your efforts at healing. The healing journey does not need negativity and bitterness to mar its way. It does no good to allow hostility to gain a foothold in our minds. Instead, a foundation of respect, appreciation, enjoyment and joy will provide us with the inner tools we need to create an atmosphere most conducive to regaining strength, hope and health.

I do find, gracious God, that when I make an effort to see the positive aspects of life around me, my whole outlook is brighter and better. So, I just ask that you help me to keep focusing on those things. They really do sustain my everyday life. Amen.

February 21

Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.
     Romans 12:12

Hope. Patience. Perseverance. Each of these is a gift of healing and grace. Each one is necessary to possess to take us toward better days. Hope gives us a purpose to keep on going. Patience carries us through the difficult times and delivers us to days that are good. Perseverance gives us strength to not give up in the dark moments and periods. And perseverance leads us back to hope. Each gift is an integral part of the cancer journey. We need to foster and nurture these gifts in every way we can. They are vital to our health and our well-being.

I really am thankful, caring God, for these gifts you offer to me. On the days when I find it especially tough, they give power to help me face the immense challenges around me. Amen.

February 22 

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
     Romans 12:14

Holding on to grudges and slights does us no good. Yet we’re all too good at harboring the resentments and reliving the bitter memories of the past. Holding on to these toxic emotions saps us of our energy and takes away the power we need to heal. It is far easier and infinitely less complicated to focus on what is positive rather than what is negative. In fact, we desperately need the positive energy we create to help us find hope and promise for the journey. Holding on to what is wrong and bad only creates an atmosphere that serves to pull us down and break our spirits.

I really need help to refocus my thoughts and attitudes on a positive level, gracious God. You know how quickly and even joyfully I enter into dark places in my heart and mind. I know that does not help me. So today I plead for your strength to help put me in the right frame of mind. Amen. 

February 23

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
     Romans 12:15

Sometimes what we ache for most is merely to be heard and understood – to have someone know what we’re going through as much as anyone who is not us can. Sometimes we just need someone to laugh with us or to celebrate a good moment when it comes. Sometimes when a day is awful we just need someone who will let us complain and grumble without trying to cheer us up. So often the healing begins not with comments about how things could be worse or how they’re going to be better. But more often the healing begins when we are allowed simply to give voice to our feelings without judgment, scorn or even answers given in return. To have someone in our life who can simply listen to who we are is a genuinely blessed gift of healing and grace.

My feelings are so complex and so uncertain so much of the time, O God. I know you understand that. I also know that you understand the complexities and uncertainties of my days. I am so grateful that you listen and just let me pour it out to you. I am grateful for others who do that for me too. Amen. 

February 24

"No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar, but on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light."
     Luke 11:33

Cancer is often associated with darkness. Darkness can descend upon our spirits and minds when we learn that cancer has entered our lives. Yet God does not want us to live in darkness. And cancer does not have to equate with darkness. Our challenge – and our privilege – is to allow God’s light to shine deeply in our souls to drive the darkness, and its associated despair and doubt, away. God has already placed the light of healing, the light of hope and the light of new life within us. We must allow the light to warm us, to encourage us and to show us the way toward healing. We must allow God’s light to reflect from us an expression of hope that is real and powerful. Is God’s light reflected through you? Can others see the promise and possibility of God’s healing in you? Do you see the promise within you? If not, reflect on why.

This light you give me, O God, is a true gift for my spirit and my soul. I know I don’t always reflect it as I could. But on this day I open myself up to you more than ever to let your goodness shine through. Amen.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Week of February 11 - 17

February 11

The Lord God helps me;
… therefore I have set my face like flint, …
     Isaiah 50:7b

Our innermost strength and resolve come as gifts from God. God gives us the abilities we need to stand up to the deepest challenges and fears. Cancer challenges us like no other disease. We cannot live well with cancer and face it all alone. At the very least we need the guidance of God to navigate through all the twists and turns. We need God’s all-knowing love to under gird us. We need God’s power to sustain us. We need God’s grace to carry us. We need an eternal spirit to give us what we cannot give ourselves. We do best when we depend on God. We do best when we realize that God is our greatest ally and companion.

My strength is in you Lord. My hope is in you. Lord. My life is in you, Lord, I know. I want to remember that today. Amen.

February 12

The Lord God helps me;
… and I know I shall not be put to shame;
     Isaiah 50:7c

There’s a lot we fear we may lose with cancer – friends, dignity, the future, control - to name just a few. It’s frightening to consider all that we may need to give up as cancer challenges us. It can cause us to give up too easily or to retreat in ways that isolate and marginalize us. And, of course, that is not helpful. But God doesn’t want us to lose the things we fear will disappear, the blessings and gifts that bring meaning and joy to life. Instead God wants those gifts only to be enhanced and strengthened in our lives. We need to remember constantly that God is a source of incredible renewal and revival.

O God, who lifts the burdens from us, help me to accept the gifts that you offer all the time to me. I can get caught up in feeling sorry for myself and focusing on all that’s wrong. But I know that I need to see instead where you are gracing me with dignity and possibility. Amen.

February 13

For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? …
     Matthew 5:46a

One of life’s most complicated tasks is to overcome our feelings toward difficult people. Unresolved bitterness and anger against disappointment and hurt is very common. But allowing unresolved negativity to live on is very dangerous to our health. To achieve authentic healing it is imperative to find ways to live in peace, without resentment, and unburdened by feelings of hostility toward others. Without fail, allowing the burdens of lingering displeasure to be lifted from our hearts is a major step in building a state of wellness. When we can create an atmosphere that will not allow antagonism to take hold we will strengthen ourselves to meet cancer’s challenges in a much more positive way.

Dear God, you know where I need to grow and where I need to let go. But I don’t always realize how I need to change. Show me today where I need to start. Amen.

February 14

And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others?
     Matthew 5:47a

It’s comfortable and easy to reach out primarily for those things we know best. That’s human nature. But sometimes our growth is stunted when we don’t look beyond what is familiar. When we live with cancer, and when we want to rise above cancer, there are times we need to be open to new people, to new ideas, to new possibilities and to new ways of living. Those of us who grow the most are most likely to see the potential in seeking the unexpected. This is a time to search, a time to change and a time to look in a different way at unexplored paths.

God of deliverance, deliver me from the habits that keep me from growing where I need to grow. I know that it’s hard. But I know you will help me to step out in the places I need to go. Amen. 

February 15

He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together.
     Isaiah 50:8a

Cancer threatens us in many ways. It can take away the good memories of yesterday as it diminishes tomorrow and robs us of the joy of today. Cancer often pulls us into a place of under-confidence and pushes us into a state of hopelessness and despair. But we are reminded that we are not taken to those places alone. God is always with us wherever we are led. God is always by our side no matter where we find ourselves. Just when we think we are facing extreme threats by ourselves, we need to remember that we have a companion with us every step along the way. God’s will is only to deliver us from distress and despair. God’s will is to accompany us each day to help us find the deliverance we need.

O God, I too quickly resort to feeling sorry for myself. But I’m looking to you today to remind me again that you do not let me experience this without your loving, comforting presence and grace. Amen. 

February 16

He who vindicates me is near…
Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.
     Isaiah 50:8b

It’s all too common to lose our confidence and hope when cancer confronts us. But cancer is only as strong as we allow it to be. If we give it power over us and allow it to affect every aspect of our lives it will. But if we look at it as weak – and look at ourselves as strong – we can begin to reframe our thinking to give cancer less and less authority over us. God is infinitely more powerful than any disease. With God as our guide and foundation, we can face with confidence the challenges in our way. With God as our strength and stay, we can regain our hope and find the power we need to put cancer in its proper place.

You know how easily I fall into the belief that I am facing this challenge alone, without help or guidance. But dear God, I need your reassurance that you are with me and are giving me the power I can’t gather on my own. Amen. 

February 17

Therefore thus says the Lord God, See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: "One who trusts will not panic."
      Isaiah 28:16

Panic is a very common reaction to the news that we have cancer. Fear. Terror. Anguish. Horror. Each of those responses is universally typical too. No matter how strong our faith, our support or our care, it’s very human to panic when we first hear the news. But panic doesn’t have to last. It fact it cannot if we are to find the healing we need. Little by little and day by day we can regain our trust in God’s hand of strength and blessing to help us and guide us. As we reclaim our conviction that God does reach out to protect us, we will surely see that as challenging as our circumstances might be, hope is not lost because of God’s constant care and support.

In the many moments when I am inclined to hold onto fear and give up on hope, I know I need to turn back to you, O God. Remind me once again how strong and steady you are and always will be for me. Amen.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Week of February 4 - 10

February 4

Stay awake and pray that you will not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
     Matthew 26:41

Most of us have a lot of good intentions when it comes to seeking good health again. Most of us resolve to stick to one plan or another, one regimen or another, yet we quickly and easily stray from our plans and promises. It’s important to commit to a well-informed plan for renewed health and healing. But it’s also important to be gentle with ourselves when we falter along the way. What’s essential is to keep moving in a positive direction, even when there are detours along the way. What helps is to pick a plan that is reasonable, feasible and possible to accomplish. Then make a daily commitment to yourself to follow it. A plan that you have the main hand in developing and that you can see yourself following is the best one to apply.

I seem to fail a lot at trying to be healthy again, O God. But you keep giving me more chances to try again. I am grateful for that. And it inspires me to try even more to travel in the best direction I can. Amen. 

February 5

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen?
     Habakkuk 1:2a

It’s a basic need of every human being – to be heard, to have others listen to us and value who we are. We all want to know that we matter, that our feelings, thoughts, experiences, dreams and desires have significance. And especially when we are knocked down – in pain, sick, discouraged or feeling alone - we need to know that God, the author of life and healing, understands and is concerned about our distress. We need to know that God in divine mercy holds us closely and is taking care of us. It is devastating when we feel as if no one hears or no one cares. Sometimes it seems that is the case. Sometimes the silence of God is hard to take. But sometimes God seems silent because our human ears are not attuned to God’s profound and healing voice.

I too often decide what the answers should be, dear God, and then I close my ears to the better answers you provide. I need your help to hear you more clearly in every way. I pray to recognize your voice plainly and unmistakably. Amen.

February 6

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen?
     Romans 8:24

It is hope that gives us promise and potential on the cancer journey. It is hope that gives us energy and encouragement. It is hope that gives us courage and commitment to create wellness in our lives. It is hope that saves us from despair and delivers us from giving up when disappointment overwhelms us. It is hope that reminds us that we have something to live for. It is hope that strengthens us to make the resolve to take control of our healing and health. It is hope that gives us life.

Hope is my lifeline, O God. Hope is what gives me power and determination. I know that you are the one who puts hope within me, the one who makes hope real. Amen.

February 7

Rise up, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God!
     Psalm 3:7a

Impatience. It continues to be a constant pressure in our lives. We demand answers. We cry for attention. We stipulate what God should and must do. Our human impatience can get us in trouble; it often does. But even in our impatient expectations God is already at work answering us and taking care of our needs. Thank God we don’t always get what we ask for. Thank God instead that we get what we need.

I do thank you God for saving me from myself. I know that I make demands on you. I know I’m disappointed sometimes that you don’t do exactly what I say. But in the end I am always grateful – eternally so – that you answer as you do. I’m far better for that. Amen. 

February 8

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.
     Romans 8:26

There are many times along the way when we cannot even begin to express the way we feel. There are fears too complex, worries too deep, thoughts too uncertain and requests too profound to know how to share. But we can rest in this – God already understands, God already knows what we need and God already is at work taking care to meet those needs. We don’t need to worry that we cannot express our thoughts and needs adequately enough. Because God has already discerned our unexpressed desires and is soothing them with compassion and love.

Not only can I not express my concerns sufficiently enough to you, O God, but I cannot even begin to express my gratitude deeply enough for your incredible understanding and care. Yet I know you can read the depths of my heart. Thank you. Amen. 

February 9

Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.
     Psalm 6:4

When we just don’t know what to do, when we just can’t figure out where to turn, we can always remember that God is still at work for us. When we feel alone, abandoned, lost in despair, we can recall that God’s love is so great and so strong, and that it will never leave us. Cancer leads us too quickly down roads of self-pity and immobilization. But God never gives up on us and never leaves us to handle the situation alone.

God of unending faithfulness and love, tell me when I forget, that I am not alone today. Tell me, show me, reassure me, that your power is lifting me up this day. Amen. 

February 10

The Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced; …
     Isaiah 50:7a

Cancer is not a punishment for past mistakes or sins. Cancer is not afflicted upon us by a vindictive God who wants to punish us or put us to a cruel test. But cancer is an occasion for us to change and grow, to re-evaluate our habits and to find new ways of renewing our health and staying well. God uses cancer not to harm us but to help us find our strength and potential. God uses cancer to give us insights that we have never considered before. God uses cancer to recreate us to be more the people we have been born to be. God uses cancer to bless us in ways we could never expect. Our job is to look for those blessings and use cancer as an opportunity for positive transformation.

There are days when I don’t feel like this is an opportunity; I’ll be honest, dear God. But help me to see the infinite possibilities in this challenge, opportunities for blessing and not a curse. Amen.