Friday, June 29, 2012

Week of June 30 - July 6

June 30

Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.
     Isaiah 25:8

God is not a God who desires his children to live in pain or to suffer from distress. God has announced over and over again beginning in ancient times that pain, fear, loneliness, heartache, guilt, loss and regret are not to be the last word for our lives. Even when it seems as if our difficulties and disease will never go away, God reminds us that there will come a day when all our brokenness and anguish will be overcome with healing and relief beyond anything we can imagine today.

May the day of sweet relief we seek, dear Lord, begin in some real way today. Help us to feel your presence and know your healing even now in our imperfect way. Amen.

July 1

O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for indeed, all that we have done, you have done for us.
     Isaiah 26:12

It is in our own minds where peace is kept away. While God has given us the ability to know perfect peace, we allow negative thoughts, self-doubts, unchecked worries and boundless anxieties to run through our minds and seize the day. We have been given the gifts of assurance and strength from God, invaluable components of peace. We must decide constantly throughout every day to give no voice to the thoughts that bring us down into depths of distress and despair. We must open our minds and spirits to the assurance and strength God provides instead.

My own thoughts are my worst enemy, O God. I need help keeping my negative thinking at bay. Guide me, I pray, to be open to accepting your guarantees of peace. Amen.

July 2

My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.
     Isaiah 32:18

How well do you create times and moments of respite and calm in your life? How often do you make an effort to seek refreshment of your mind, your body and your soul? How much do you step back to be still, to listen and watch to know that God is here and that God is good? Be mindful today of the time you take to restore your thoughts, your physical self and your spirit to a more positive place. Make certain it is enough to put you in touch with God’s goodness within and around.

There is no need for me to ever be so depleted that I cannot see and feel the goodness you have given me, O God. Help me – every day – to renew my trust and hope in you. Amen.

July 3

He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.
     Isaiah 40:11

In our distress, God comes to us like a loving, protecting shepherd. God nourishes us. God surrounds us with comfort and love. God lifts us and holds us close. God guides us and those caring for us in the right ways to go. God is indeed with us through every moment of this journey, no matter how dark the night or frightening the fight. We are not alone. With God we never will be.

I need your protection, dear God. I need your help and your tender care every day. I am glad you are always there. Amen.

July 4

You have heard; now see all this; and will you not declare it? From this time forward I make you hear new things, hidden things that you have not known.
     Isaiah 48:6

While there are undeniably untold numbers of challenges that cancer can bring, many also point to its potential for blessings. When we allow it, cancer can teach us to make new and better priorities. It can reveal new strengths within us. It can show us new and healthier ways of living. It can foster new depths to our relationships. It can provide us a new understanding of our spiritual natures and of God. It can create in us a new level of wellness we had never known before.

There are new things I am learning day by day, dear Lord. Help me to reflect on these new things and allow them to bring new meaning to my life. Amen.

July 5 

For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones.
     Isaiah 49:13b

Throughout the scriptures is woven the thread of God’s compassion for us. In verse after verse and story after story, we can see astounding evidence of God’s mercy, healing power, forgiveness, grace and infinite love. In moments of deep discomfort and draining distress we need to turn to these words and promises of compassion to bring us comfort and relief. God will not, does not, leave us to face our anxieties alone.

From ancient days to now, you have proven your care and blessings upon your people, O God. I ask for that understanding to be constantly present in my mind as I face any challenges I will have today. Thank you for caring for me even when I forget you do. Amen.

July 6

Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God you have an everlasting rock.
     Isaiah 26:4

Throughout the scriptures we are reminded that God’s timing, understanding and will are not ours. That is, God has a way of acting in our lives and in this world that is far greater, supremely better and infinitely more perfect than anything we can imagine or design. It is when we connect with those
ways – God’s timing, God’s understanding and God’s will – that we ultimately find the strength and ability we need to affectively face every challenge that comes before us.

I know that my own limited attempts at overcoming my difficulties and rising above my weaknesses are never going to save me. But I also know that when I place my trust in your ways, I can find answers and help I never knew existed. Thank you for supporting me in my weakness, O God. Amen.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Weeks of June 16 - 29

June 16

But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
     James 1:6

Our worst enemy can be our doubting natures. We so often get tangled up in fears, what ifs and speculation about what bad things might happen that we miss too much of what is happening that is good. It’s a constant struggle to control our doubts. But we need to work hard at confronting them, understanding them, working to move in action beyond them and then setting them aside. We do not need them burdening us today.

My faith at times is utterly slight, O God. I appeal to you to help me strengthen my trust and assurance in you. I need you to help me move beyond my fears. Amen.

June 17

Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.
     Isaiah 35:3

The sense of vulnerability and instability that pours over us when cancer enters our lives is fearfully strong. Our invincibility is threatened. Our mortality is painfully driven home to us. Isaiah’s words convey an understanding of human frailty. But they also convey an understanding of God’s power to help us overcome our weakness and of God’s compassion in wanting us to find strength and renewal continually.

I’m feeling weak and feeble today, dear God. Many days are like that. Yet I pray for each hour to grow better. I pray to feel stronger and more vital in your care throughout this day. Amen.

June 18

Rejoice always.
     1 Thessalonians 5:16

It might seem ridiculous to rejoice all the time. Who can be pleased at everything that happens? Who can celebrate everything that takes place? Of course, not everything, every day will please or be acceptable to us. But … when we strive earnestly to seek out positive circumstances, people, situations, happenings and attitudes, it will amaze us how the negative we see will fall away and our outlook will change in refreshing ways.

I will strive today to look for all that is positive around me. In that I know I will begin to experience the positive within me, which you have given me to know, dear God. Amen.

June 19

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!
     Isaiah 55:1a

These are words of promise and hope. When we are thirsty for help our needs will be quenched. When we feel poor and unsatisfied, we will have enough to meet our needs. These words remind us of God’s ability to provide us with an abundance to care for us each day. We need to connect to God’s power to experience the tremendous blessings and goodness offered to us infinitely.

Praise be to you, O God, for the amazing gifts you offer to me every day. I pray for the will to focus on those gifts today and live in gratitude for all you do to reach out in care and concern to me. Amen.

June 20

Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content.
     Philippians 4:11

Throughout our life’s journey we are constantly challenged to seek God’s will and not our own. It’s a hard struggle at times. Our self-centeredness gets in the way. Yet when we know and trust that God truly does provide us with everything we need, we begin to possess contentment with those blessings. In fact, we begin to see the blessings are far more real and profound that we could ever believe.

Not my will, but your will, O God. That is my simple prayer today. Amen.

June 21

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?
     Jeremiah 8:22

Our impatience gets the best of us. Our inability to see much beyond the present clouds our thinking. It is then when we grow quickly to believe there is neither relief nor hope. Humanity has struggled with this forever. When we look at our condition only through our eyes we only see suffering, disappointment and pain. But when we reframe our thinking to begin to see our situation through God’s eyes, then we grow to see relief and hope anew.

While today may seem hopeless and bad to me, O God, help me to remember that you see life eternally and not just momentarily. Help me to begin seeing things your way this day. Amen.

June 22

It will serve as a pavilion, a shade by day from the heat, and a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
     Isaiah 4:6

Where is the place that serves as a sanctuary for you when the days and nights are too hard to handle? What eases the fears and calms you to face the moments ahead with hope and confidence? Who can you turn to who will listen, who will encourage you, who will help soothe your worries and put them in perspective? Go to those sanctuaries. Turn to those calming influences. Seek those soothing voices. You do not, must not, weather the harsh times alone. Allow these gracious gifts from God to give you the healing respite you need.

Gracious and giving God, remind me that you provide all the shelter and protection I need. You offer to me the wonderful havens and blessings that abound around me in an endless stream of care and love. Amen.

June 23

… and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another…
     Ephesians 4:32

Many cancer survivors say a major key to well-being and survival is finding the will to forgive - to let go of past hurts, slights, resentment and pain, to lift the burdens of bitterness off their hearts, to lighten the load of guilt and shame. Cancer is a heavy enough weight to carry. You don’t need the crushing yoke that keeps you mired in anger and causes you to be constantly on the offense. Let go of the past and let God handle it for you. Free yourself to concentrate instead on the well-being God is here to create.

I have too many burdens already. I need to cast them aside so I can see your goodness instead, O God. I know you will help and I pray for your release. Amen.

June 24

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
     Isaiah 12:2

I have to admit, sometimes I am afraid. Sometimes I feel alone, sometimes abandoned, sometimes as if my distress will never end. Sometimes I look for God and God does not seem to be there. But when I remember the great and ancient prophets felt the same way, and yet somehow found God caring even in their deep distress, I am comforted in knowing I am not alone in my fears. I then do know that just as they found God to be at work in their lives again, I can and will too.

My God, you have not forsaken or abandoned me. Even though for a little while I may waver in my belief and trust, I ultimately know you are here and you are the one who will see me through. Amen.

June 25

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
     Philippians 4:13

Remembering that we are created by a God who loves us and wants only the best for us is an essential part of creating wellness in every aspect of our lives. When we remember that God is always on the side of wholeness, integrity, truth, goodness, healing, forgiveness and love, we have a roadmap for the journey ahead. Constant mindfulness that God is always offering to guide us in the right directions can be a tremendous source of comfort and strength.I need to be reminded over and over again of your great love for me, O God. When I am reminded it is amazing how clear the answers are and how much simpler my life’s journey can be. Amen.

June 26

My joy is gone; grief is upon me, my heart is sick.
     Jeremiah 8:18

There are those inevitable days and moments when we, like the ancient prophet, feel utterly despondent in our circumstances. On those days, sometimes we just have to give voice to our sadness, our fear, our pain. God is gracious enough to listen and great enough to understand. On those days, turn to God and share from your heart. Share what is on your mind. Share your distress and let God begin to soothe your troubles and take them away.

When nothing else seems to work, I know I can still turn to you to reveal my sorrow and despair. In these moments, O God, reveal yourself to me and remind me of your compassion and care. Amen.

June 27

Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
     Romans 13:12b

We often look at cancer and all the issues surrounding our survival as a fight we are forced to endure. Indeed, none of us asks for or wants this fight in our lives. But instead of looking upon it as a burden to shoulder, a battle to wage, we need to see it as an opportunity to change for the better – reexamining our attitudes, our emotions, our lifestyles, our relationships and our spiritual connections. In refocusing our understandings toward creating wellness, as opposed to fighting a disease, we emerge from a dark struggle into a much more affirming life of joy and light.

I often allow this disease to define me, O God. Instead help me to redefine my way of life to reflect not a disease, but your warming, comforting light. Amen.

June 28

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth.
     Isaiah 12:5

It is when we approach each day, each task, each person we encounter with an attitude of thanksgiving, it is then when we begin to see more goodness around us. It is then when we allow more light to break through the darkness. It is then we begin to see hope rather than hopelessness. It is then we find answers where there were none before. It is a spirit of gratitude that must come first in our thoughts and hearts and minds. That spirit transforms our outlook and sets us on a path of positive action and results.

I praise you today, O God. I praise you for giving me this day to experience the joy of your creation and the wonder of your love and grace. Amen.

June 29

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.    
     Isaiah 9:2

Many of us who live with cancer feel as if we have been plunged into a dark and forbidding world, a world in which we have no control, a world in which fear and acute uncertainty abound. But we must not remain in that darkness. There is a source of light and that light is God – piercing the darkness in ways we may not always understand, but in ways we can clearly know. Always seek the glimmers of light that do shine in every life. For those glimmers lead us to God and out of the darkness all around.

God, our life and our light, shine on us today the warming, comforting, revealing light of your mercy and love. When we are quick to give into the darkness, help us see the light that gives us hope and grants us help in countless ways. Amen.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Week of June 9 - 15

June 9

I am not at ease, nor am I quiet; I have no rest; but trouble comes.
     Job 3:26

Just as with the deeply troubled Job, there are days when nothing seems right. We cannot find relief. We cannot seem to hear good news. We cannot feel the hope we seek and need. There are days when we just need to acknowledge that; days when we neither feel God’s presence nor peace. It is when we confront with honesty the dis-ease we feel, then we can begin to find the release and renewal we need.

When I confront my distress, dear God, I can begin to heal where I hurt the most. Give me the courage to be open to my difficult realities and to see clearly what I must do to know your help and relief. Amen.

June 10

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.
     3 John 2

The intersection of our bodies and souls is very powerful. The health of one is related to the health of the other. When one is in distress the other manifests that distress. We need to care for both for both to be strong and well. Each of the parts of ourselves is interconnected in ways we do not fully understand. But we do know that we need to nurture those parts equally and faithfully for our health to be authentic and real.

Dear God, let me not forget to care for my body and my soul today. You made them both dependent on the other. Help me not to neglect either today. Amen.

June 11

With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can mortals do to me?
     Psalm 118:6

When we feel all alone in our distress, knowing that no one else can truly understand, we can be reminded that God does understand. God is on our side – the side of release, the side of renewal, the side of restoration. When loneliness sets in and hope is hard to find, we need to remember the one who never leaves us, the one who only wants what is good for us in every way.

When I am reminded of your constant presence in my life and of your never-failing love, my fears begin to melt away, O God. I need that reminder over and over. Help me to hear it, to hear your constant, soothing voice. Amen.

June 12

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.
     2 Peter 3:8

The good days fly by too fast. The bad days linger far too long. Time is difficult to understand. Why do the wonderful moments seem so fleeting? Why do the horrible ones endure seemingly endlessly? The promise to us is that one day we will understand the turning of time, the meaning of our days. Until we fully do our comfort comes in knowing that God has ordered the time and knows the time we need to live out the purpose of our days. Even if we do not fully understand the times we experience, we can know that God does. That assurance can sustain us today.

I cannot turn back time, O God, but I can trust that the time you give me is what I need to live fully for you. Help me to use this time well today. Amen.

June 13

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
     Isaiah 30:18a

When we feel as if we are somehow being punished with this disease we have, we need to hear these words of mercy about God. God is gracious. God is patient. God is understanding. God is good. The scriptures are full of these assurances of God’s loving, compassionate concern. Look to these words when you need to hear them the most.

I forget about your constant care for me, O Lord. I forget it and then feel sorry for myself all too often. Today I will recall your graciousness and find a new attitude for this journey. Amen.

June 14

May grace and peace be yours in abundance.
     1 Peter 1:2b

God created us for a life of abundance – an abundance of joy, an abundance of love, an abundance of hope, an abundance of peace. Where does your life lack those blessings of abundance today? What is causing you to be without those blessings today? What must you do to gain those blessings today? We must not throw away the opportunity to experience all the abundance God has in store for us. Choose – today – to reclaim this abundance in everything you do.Too often I go through my days failing to live abundantly in you, dear God. Today, I ask for it to be different. Today, I ask for your guidance to live a better, more wonderful way. Amen.

June 15

They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
     Isaiah 2:4c

Learning to stop fighting the negative and learning to start creating the good is essential to the cancer journey. We gain little by always being in battle against something. We gain much more by being for positive things – integrity, authenticity, peace of spirit and of mind, wellness and joy. When we choose to approach cancer – and life – in this way, the difference in our attitude and outlook will be remarkably refreshing.

When I approach life, O God, with an attitude that seeks to create goodness and wellness, I know I can be amazed at the results. Help me to do that beginning today. Amen