After we begin to adjust to the diagnosis and challenges of cancer, we likely will meet other, unexpected difficulties associated with the illness.
Allow me to introduce Elijah, Elmer, and Elaine. Elijah, circa 875 BC. Miracles and a great spiritual awakening took place in Israel. Elijah, the strong, brave spokesman for the Lord, was tremendously influential.
Elmer, circa AD 1960. Elmer was a great guy—capable, respected, and even admired by some. He owned and operated the local department store. Elmer also served his church tirelessly.
Elaine, circa AD 2000. “Oh, I’m happy to leave the insurance business and retire,” Elaine said. “I worked for many years. Now I’ve saved and cut corners long enough, and I look forward to traveling with my hubby.”
Eight Lessons from Elijah, Elmer, and Elaine
- Rest and be strengthened
At some point in our cancer journey, we may dread both life and death. We all need rest, sustenance, space, time, and quietness for comfort and prayer. These will build strength and add to our endurance.
- Search and reach
Reach for where you need to be. When our walk through cancer is difficult emotionally, we may feel the need to draw nearer to those closest to our heart. We can rest in their presence, perhaps even in their arms. We may also want to reach out to the One who promised, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”
- Speak from your heart
Elijah went into a cave in Horeb to spend the night. The Lord asked, “What are you doing here?”
Elijah said, “I’ve been working my heart out, Lord.” Elmer said, “I’ve been working hard for you, Lord. I have done the right thing.” Elaine said, “I’ve worked hard for you, Lord. I’ve done good things for many.”
- Listen for His voice
God speaks to our brokenness. The Lord told Elijah, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God.” He tells us, “Come to me.” Though Elijah witnessed a great windstorm, earthquake, and fire, the Lord did not speak in them. Instead, He spoke by way of “a gentle whisper.” He may speak to us through Scripture, prayer, music, loved ones, or meditation upon Him.
- Stay faithful
Whatever our challenges during cancer, we cannot see the whole story. We may feel alone, we may fear for our lives, and we may struggle even after being comforted. In a way suited to each person’s needs, God told Elijah, Elmer, and Elaine to keep living in the midst of their fear.
- One day at a time
One day at a time, we can learn to release our sorrow, accept newly gained wisdom, and find the way to rebuild.
Only God can define or know the inner you. To stand up to fear and anxiety, a little spiritual workout can help. Set aside some time each day to refresh your spirit. Favorite poems or music, verses of Scripture, a good book, a funny movie, time with positive friends or family, a talk with God, or keeping a journal are a few exercises you can try.
- Meet the challenge
A decision to rebuild will minimize the fear and move you further from it. You might think of some things you’d like to do immediately. Jot down some ideas and refer to them from time to time. Any setback turned into a higher, finer motivation for a greater good will draw you away from the trouble that threatens you.
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What methods have you used in your fight with cancer?
by Venita McCart
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Venita McCart, founder of Faith Force Cancer Support Ministries – faithforcecancer.com, has connected with hundreds of patients since 2005 through group meetings, personal contacts, writing, and speaking. She develops support groups and materials to comfort and encourage cancer patients and their families. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.