Friday, August 31, 2012

Week of September 1 - 7

September 1

There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.
     I Samuel 2:2

We place our trust in so many things in the world around us, things that are fleeting, temporary and ultimately unreliable.  We place our hope in our own limited devices as well.  In the end, all of them will let us down, in one way or another.  The only force in this world that is constant, perfect and eternally strong is God, the only one to stay true, and unwavering.  God will never leave us, forget us or change with the times.  Cancer presents a challenge that needs the power of God to confront, a power that will not bend when battered, a power that will not fail when challenged.

There is probably nothing more I need to be reminded of than to trust you more for everything I require, dear God. I try to go it too much alone, relying on my own power, limited as it is. Today, I am seeking to place my confidence more and more in you. Amen.

September 2

For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
     Matthew 7:8

Most of us say we do ask, we do search and we do knock, but we don’t always receive or find or gain entry into where we want to go. So, how is this passage true or right? The key lies in how we ask and with what attitude we search and knock. If we ask with the answer already in mind, telling God what to do, expecting God to confirm our ideas, we miss the point entirely. In that way we are limiting the scope of the answer and especially limiting God. Instead, the asking, searching and knocking needs to be for God’s will for us, for what we need and not just what we want, for God’s limitless possibilities to be evident too and not just our own imperfect, finite, predetermined ideas. When we pray with that understanding in mind, the answers come and the doors that open are far better than any we alone could find.

Dear God, I come to you today and try to put my limited understandings aside. I come seeking your insight, your wisdom and your answers for me, and not just my own. Amen. 

September 3

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

Deserts are not the barren, lifeless places we may often think they are. They teem with life and majesty. They may be places of harsh conditions and breathtaking extremes. But in them beauty and wonder abound. Cancer is like a desert – harsh, extreme, barren and life-depleting at times. But also, when we determine it to be, cancer can provide a means to discover new life where we saw no life before. It can be a source of joy when others lovingly and compassionately care for us. There can be beauty in the setting of new priorities, in the realization of new blessings that we ignored before. There can be wonder in the healing we seek, as we adopt healthier attitudes, activities, diets and routines. This place can be a place of majesty when we allow it to be.

Remind me, O God, of the richness of the desert. Just when I think I am lost in a place with no comfort and no hope, help me to notice the rich life that exists even there. Help me to understand there is more to know and see. Amen.

September 4

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

There are endless dark nights of the soul when we are confronted with cancer. The draining, sleepless hours fill our minds with frightening and terrible possibilities. The distracting demands of our waking doubts sap energy from us that color our attitudes all day. The negative thoughts that invade our spirits do us no good and keep us from the positive work we must do to create a healing atmosphere in our lives. It is too easy to give in to the dark impulses that bombard us. We must never forget that a healing light from God always shines on us, a light that never goes out. When we always look down upon ourselves or at the problems before us, we miss seeing the light from above. We must look up to let it bathe us in its warmth and in its healing rays.

I do not want to walk in darkness anymore. Today, dear God, I will look up to feel and see your glorious light of hope, help and peace. Thank you for this gift for my soul. Amen.

September 5

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

The first place we must go to find help and relief is to God. God already knows what we need. God is already at work in us and around us, caring for our needs and answering our calls of distress. We may turn to countless other helpers – and they may be able to provide solace and hope for us in many ways. But it is God who provides those others for us. It is God who shows us the light and the way. Our first course of action in every dilemma and in every difficult decision needs to be turning to the One who understands and knows above all others just what is best and just what is right for us this day.

I need constantly to remember that when I turn to you first, O God, I am already being set on the right path for my needs. I ask for help not to be diverted today. I ask for the wisdom to put your direction first and not my own. Amen. 

September 6

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

Cancer is not a death sentence. Too many people think it is. But those of us who believe that God is stronger and more able than any cancer, know there is hope even in darkness and amidst the shadows that cancer brings. Today – and every day – when doubts arise and resolve is weak, center your thoughts and expectations on the One who offers a better answer, who holds out a deeper hope and who can give us a very real and abiding peace. This One lifts us from the darkness and out of the shadows and shows us a better way to face our dilemmas and dis-ease.

Lurking within me are forces that try to destroy my hope and well-being. But dear Lord, you are also within and you show me the light of healing and peace. I am grateful for your endless help today. Amen.

September 7

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

Gratitude needs to be the cornerstone of our daily lives. We must always return to giving thanks on a consistent, constant basis. When fear threatens us, when uncertainty consumes us or when pain debilitates us, it is very easy to give in to the darker forces around us. But to overcome those forces, we need to spend time being mindful of the forces of light that are infinitely stronger than any of those forces that attempt to break us down. In recounting our blessings we encounter hope and begin to experience healing deeply and profoundly.

I realize that I need to spend thoughtful, disciplined time remembering what is good within and around me. For when I do, O God, I am reminded how present and active you really are in my life. Thank you. Amen.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Week of August 25 - 31

August 25

Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.
     Hebrews 6:7

God constantly reaches out to us to bless and guide us.  Over and over again, God calls to us, responds to us and offers us the answers we need.  God showers us with refreshing help and renewing energy, even when we don’t realize it.  Our job is to have the open eyes, the listening ears, the willing hearts and the receptive spirits to absorb all the grace and goodness God pours down.  With cancer it’s easy to feel as if God isn’t concerned about us.  But with mindfulness and resolve to observe the tremendous blessings in our lives, we can see indeed that our thirst for healing and new life is truly quenched by God.

Gracious God, you are infinitely more generous than I can even begin to know. 
I forget that much too quickly.  On this day help me to be reminded of your amazing love and care.  Amen. 

August 26

My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge.
     II Samuel 22:3a

Our spiritual beliefs need to under gird all that we do on the cancer journey. They are paramount. They give us a spirit of triumph, a basis for hope. As important as medicine, attitude, a support system, diet and exercise are – and they are all essential and valuable components – holding onto a belief in a God who loves and actively cares for us is even more valuable. Knowing that we are held in the highest and most gracious regard by God can give us a confidence and resolve that only enhances the value of every other resource in our lives. The love and help of God never waver nor wane. God is a rock that never crumbles beneath us.

Dear God, you are the one thing in this world that never changes with time. You are always constant, always strong and always with us, no matter what. I really can depend on you anytime and in any situation and I am deeply grateful for that. Amen.

August 27

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
     Matthew 5:3

God has a special outreach to those of us whose souls are empty and whose spirits are tired. God, through the continuum of time, has made it abundantly clear that the health of our spirits and souls are of supreme essence and divine importance. There is nothing of greater significance than God’s concern that we possess all the resources of the heart and mind to believe in our healing and our future. God deeply wants us to know the joys inherent in experiencing amazing hope, abundant joy and abiding peace, which give us entrance now into the kingdom for which we have been created to live.

A better life is what you have offered me, O God. I hold onto this offer especially when I am most uncertain and insecure. I ask for a glimpse of your kingdom to be alive in me today. Amen.

August 28

I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.
     II Samuel 22:4

Cancer is a formidable enemy. All the treatments, tests and time it takes to confront this enemy are a huge drain on our lives. But we must always recount how powerfully present God is in the midst of the enemies around us. God is present to enable us to face with confidence the daily challenges we face. When we make the conscious effort to remember God’s goodness, we will have more blessings to praise than we can reasonably count, and we will possess the resources we need to confront the enemies without and within.

I have too many enemies to deal with on too many days and I can’t deal with them alone. So, I know you are with me to help me face them unafraid. For that I give you gratitude and praise. Amen.

August 29

Your words have supported those who were stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees.
     Job 4:4

Hope can pick us up when we are down. Hope can give us strength when we feel weak. Hope in the form of promises from the one eternal and divine source of goodness and light can mean everything to those who trust and believe in them. God’s promises, as evidenced in the scriptures, have come true since the beginning of time. God’s promises still come true today, because God’s love and grace for us never changes. God’s promises of new life, new spirits, new understandings, new attitudes, new answers and new help are offered to us without fail every day. They seek to renew and restore us in countless ways.

Dear God, in my vulnerability I often forget your promises. But today I strive to remember them and to allow their renewing strength to wash over me with hope and grace. Amen. 

August 30

O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
     Isaiah 25:1

In an ever-changing and volatile world, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and confused. In the world of cancer there are so many conflicting and confounding voices telling us what to do. When the cacophony begins, it is essential to step back to remember the eternal, ever-consistent, unfailingly faithful nature of God. Think seriously about the blessings that have come to you. Recall the ways and times in which you have received something vital just when you needed it. Remember what God has done for you in the past and what God has done for you already on this today. As you take this time you will be amazed at what is being done within you and for you.

As I reflect on the goodness that truly does come into my life, Dear God, I am humbled and awed. You do bless me in profound and perfect ways. My gratitude is deep and lasting. Amen.

August 31

Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
     Matthew 6:10

The kingdom of God as the scriptures describe it is a perfect, holy place. It is a place where peace and joy reign and where healing and wholeness abound. It’s a place where the disease, violence, suffering, poverty, uncertainty and horrors of this world no longer afflict us. The scriptures also tell us that we can begin to realize and experience glimpses of that kingdom in this world, beginning now. When we place our trust and hope in the vision of the kingdom and when we allow God to work through us to help create the kingdom, God’s will is done – beginning now, beginning here, beginning today.

Give me a clearer vision of your kingdom, O God, and help me to see how it is already alive in my life. Even in my disease and my distress, help me to know the kingdom is real and will continue to come. Amen.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Week of August 18 - 24

August 18

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
     Isaiah 40:1

God knows and understands our difficulties. God has not created us to live in disappointment and distress. But God reaches out to us in our anguish and fears to offer us respite and relief from the evils that confront us. God wants us – passionately and unconditionally – to know a better life than the one we so often experience. When we look to God and know that God only wants for us to possess a new life of joy and peace, we can begin to find the comfort and hope we seek.

Loving God, your plan for us always includes our perfect well-being. I need to hold onto that promise today. Amen.

August 19

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
     Matthew 5:4

There is so much to grieve when cancer invades our lives. Sometimes the losses are overwhelming – the loss of control, the loss of comfort, the loss of a sense of invincibility, the loss of a healthy future. This threat to our lives calls into question some of the most basic parts of our selves. But if we use this grief to examine just what is important to us, what really matters, it is amazing what kinds of strength and comfort we can find. When we confront the losses and can find ways to use them to reframe our thinking and priorities, we can experience healing in ways we never imagined before.

I am looking today, O God, to find comfort in my vulnerabilities. Help me to turn my losses into strengths, my weaknesses into victories. Amen.

August 20

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.
     Matthew 5:14

One of the very clear expectations in the scriptures is that we are to share our blessings with the world. When we are thankful, we are called to express it. When we have something good happen to us, we are to share it. When something wonderfully unexpected occurs, we are to tell about it. This is not about bragging or boasting. But it is about giving a witness to those around us that God is at work in us – enabling us to be strong, giving us what we need, guiding us to experience the wonder and goodness of this life. This is our life’s purpose: to shine a light whenever we can, to pierce the darkness wherever it is.

I know I can be a light to those around me, because you have given me so much to share. O God, thank you for the opportunity to brighten the world through my daily witness and activities. Amen.

August 21

Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth! Let the sea roar and all that fill it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.
     Isaiah 42:10

Today, make a new start that brings you more hope than you had yesterday. Use this day to find a way to forgive where there is a grudge. Create a way to relax more. Find a way to laugh often. Love deeper than you have loved before. Do something that brings you intense joy. Complete a task you’ve long left undone. Resolve today to grow in some way. Confront a fear. Reprioritize where things are off-kilter. Begin a new chapter today and sing a new song of goodness and wonder with this day – this gift - you have been given.
I look to you today to understand in a deeper way the wonder you have planned for me.

Dear God, I pray this day for wisdom and discernment to guide me in new and more hopeful ways. Amen.

August 22

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.
     1 Peter 5:6

Humility. The lack of it is a constant human problem. We want to do things our own way. Yet our limited human way usually creates more trouble for us. But when we humble ourselves before God - respecting, looking to, waiting for, following God with an open mind and heart - we can find the solutions and guidance we need. When we approach God and loosen the grip on our preconceived notions we can experience greater help than we can ever imagine.

I bow before you with humility today, O God, knowing that too often I prescribe the answers and don’t truly consult you. Today I want to listen. I pray to hear your voice. Amen.

August 23

Pray in this way, Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
     Matthew 6:9

When we go to God in prayer it is essential – always – to look to God as the one who can show us the way to authentic healing – that which uplifts us, changes us for the better and brings us the perfect peace and joy we need. In fact, when we look at the root for the word hallowed we see that it comes from the same place as holy and healing. Holy be God’s name. Healing be God’s name. Holiness and healing are essential to God’s nature. They cannot be separated. When we understand and accept that with our entire being, we begin to experience all the holiness and healing we need. The change in our lives will be miraculous.

Holy God, healing God, you are the source of all I need. I seek to be touched by your holy ways today. I ask to be surrounded by your healing goodness in every way. Amen.

August 24

Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.
     Isaiah 41:10

It is very easy to forget that God promises to be with us through every circumstance of our lives. When we feel threatened and vulnerable, trusting that we will be given the strength to face the tremendous challenges is hard to maintain. Trusting that we will find a better future is one of the first casualties when we are in distress. But today we are reminded once more – as the scriptures continuously do – that we need not fear this day or any day to come, because God is right here with us to hold us up through every struggle, through every dark night.

I give you thanks, O God, that even when I forget you are here, you stick with me. What a faithful foundation you are for my life. Amen

Friday, August 10, 2012

Week of August 11 - 17

August 11

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
     I Corinthians 13:7

Love. It is stronger than any other force in this universe. It sustains us. It under girds us. It motivates us. It empowers us. Look at the love that surrounds you, that flows out of you and that comes graciously to you and let it remind you of what is most important in your life. Allow that love to create in you a force that enables you to rise above the challenges and difficulties you face. Allow it to help you embrace the goodness that is around you every day.

Dear God, you are love and you have created me out of love to share love and to be loved in this life. Thank you for this exceedingly generous gift. Amen.

August 12

Indeed, you are my lamp, O Lord. The Lord lightens my darkness.
     II Samuel 22:29

This journey we are on is often lonely and dark. Most of the way we have no idea where we are headed and what it will mean for us. While the path is not clear when we attempt to go it on our own, we are promised that when we walk life’s journey with God we will have a light shining before us to show us the direction that is best for us. Especially on the cancer journey, we need the glow of a comforting, calming, caring light to illuminate our path. Without it we stumble and fall when we do not have to.

Too many times I have faltered and slipped along life’s path. Dear God, help me to allow your guiding light to show me a better way. Amen.

August 13

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.
     Matthew 6:33

What is the kingdom of God? The scriptures give us countless descriptions of what is means. It is where peace of mind resides. It is where generosity of spirit reigns. It is where wholeness of body is real. The kingdom of God exists whenever and wherever we experience and realize the wonder and joy of God’s love, forgiveness, healing and purpose for us. How are you realizing the kingdom of God today? What are you doing to enable it to come alive in your life? This kingdom is meant for us all – right here and right now.

O God, I need your kingdom to be alive in my life. Help me to see evidence of it today. Help me to create the conditions for it to be realized in me. Amen.

August 14

He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.
     I Samuel 2:8a

As we often are reminded in the Bible, God pays special attention to those of us who are weak and impoverished. Whether it is through weakness of body or poverty of spirit, God comes to gift us with strength and abundant riches. It is these gifts that we must seek, especially when we are struggling and in distress. It’s too easy to give up hope and to give in to despair. But these reminders give us reason to keep persevering in spite of the immense challenges before us. They offer us help and saving grace just when we need them most.

In spite of all that confronts me, I know that you are offering me another way, another answer to my dilemmas. Thank you for this tremendous gift, O God. Amen.

August 15

For he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
     Luke 1:48a

One very evident characteristic of God’s grace and love is that God is always drawn to those of us who are suffering, longing for relief, seeking peace and aching for hope and purpose. Especially in our distress, God is here beside us and around us, offering to give us the blessings of life we need. When we are as low as we think we can get, it is especially then that God is with us – lifting, redeeming and seeking to save us from evil and from even our selves.

When, O Lord, I am desperate and low, I need to remember that you are right here with me. That reminder compels me to not give up hope. Amen.

August 16

It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us …
     Isaiah 25:9a

Sometimes it seems as if all we do is wait – for answers, for hope, for test results, for good news, for a return to better days. Waiting is incredibly frustrating and difficult much of the time. We are not always very good at it and resent that our timing is not everyone else’s. But it is God’s timing that really matters. It is God who knows just what we need and when we need it. When we have done all that we can possibly think to do to make what we need happen, we can do one more thing – look for God to act in our lives. Waiting for God’s perfect answers for us will save us from frustration and despair.

Why is it so hard for me to trust that you will always reach out to strengthen and guide me, O God? I need to remember how you have always helped me before. I need to be confident that you will continue to help me today. Amen.

August 17

The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.
     Isaiah 40:8

In this life everything changes. Our relationships evolve. Our circumstances alter. Our happiness ebbs and flows. But in this world of constant transformation, there are certainties that are never dependent on conditions, feelings or time. Those certainties are the promises of God, which remain steady, unwavering and true no matter what. God is always faithful. God is always loving. God is always concerned about us. God is always reaching to connect with us even when we are not able to reach back. God’s offer of help and hope is forever fixed on our well-being and on our healing from disease, despair and disappointment. That never changes.

Oh God, thank you for being so steadfast in a very uncertain world. I need your calm reassurance when everything around me seems overwhelming and unsettling. I am grateful you are here to see me through. Amen.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Week of August 4 - 10

August 4

See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.
     Isaiah 49:16

Every human palm print is distinct and different. So is every cancer. None of us need the same care, the same treatment or the same response to our circumstances. Yet God knows every nuance of our needs, far beyond even our own understanding. God understands just what we require, just what will give us abundance and strength. We must trust in the fact that we are held in the palm of God’s hand and intimately known and cared for.

Reassure me of your understanding, O God, that you know my deepest needs. Hold me closely and remind me that you will never let me out of your care and reach. Amen. 

August 5

Give us this day our daily bread.
     Matthew 6:11

This petition in the Lord’s Prayer reassures us that God offers us everything we need, every day. It is a confident expression of hope that God is looking out for us and is walking the path with us to take care of us in incredible and perfect ways. God knows intimately what we require and God knows just what is necessary every moment of our lives. This promise of daily care can nourish us with grace and goodness today.

O God, help me to see and know the countless blessings you have for me today. Remind me that I am not alone, that I am cared for in more ways than I can ever conceive. Amen.

August 6

He brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
     II Samuel 22:20

Each of us is loved and treasured by God, who wants nothing more than for us to know how much we are cherished. Knowing that we are so important can serve as an encouragement to us to keep hope alive on this journey. God does not wish for us to be devoured by discouragement and pain. God only wants for us to experience deliverance from the hopelessness and despair that too often invades our lives.

When I am inclined to wallow in self-pity and feel as if I am abandoned, speak to me of your love, O God. I need its reminder to show me my valued place in your heart. Amen. 

August 7

For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
     Luke 1:49

One especially essential action of each day of our lives is to recall and recount the blessings we have. How have we loved and been loved in return? Where have we found help and support when we needed it most? When has hope proven to be real? Who has cared for us beyond our expectations? When we take the time to reflect seriously and purposefully about the goodness around us, we will undoubtedly discover there are more blessings than we can begin to count. Take that time today. Make it a central part of your day.

God, you are the source of all that uplifts and sustains me. You care for me more than I will ever fully know. My gratitude multiplies each time I consider what you have done. Amen.

August 8

For you girded me with strength for the battle.
     II Samuel 22:40a

The greatest and most enduring power we can rely upon is the strength that comes from God. It is eternal, unwavering and triumphant. When we take that power upon us we gain resources that we cannot summon on our own. No battle need overwhelm us with God’s power as our foundation and light. We must look beyond ourselves to God’s goodness and grace, taking them upon us as our armor and shield.

Your everlasting power is what I need today to face the challenges before me. O God, help me to connect with your power in every way. Amen.

August 9

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?
     Matthew 6:27

These words are profoundly true. Worrying about our circumstances and our future will bring us nothing but anxiety and futility. We must always remember the essence of the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr – which asks for the serenity to accept what we cannot change, the courage to change what we can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Few proverbs are more vital to our peace and well-being.

I ask your guidance in revealing the difference to me, dear God. I need serenity. I need courage. I need wisdom today. Amen.

August 10

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favorably on his people and redeemed them.
     Luke 1:68

Throughout the scriptures there is continually woven the assertion that God wants nothing more than to save us from evil, pain, disappointment, hopelessness, helplessness and division. The constant refrain of salvation is clear and strong. In our troubles and distress we must constantly remember this promise of relief and respite. In looking to God and God’s desire for us we can be reminded that we are loved and created for more than disease and strife. This understanding can give us confidence and strength.

O God, because you love me, I am offered a hope beyond compare. I ask for your love to lift me and help carry me through days that cause me struggle and fear. Amen