Learning to be Thankful—Even When It’s Cancer

Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus
1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT

Attitude seems to be the only major difference in cancer survivor’s lives.

Some cancer survivors are thankful, even when things aren’t going well. They have decided, or learned, to live a thankful life. Others are bitter and angry—either because of the cancer or because they have always nurtured those emotions. Although they may want to be thankful, they find nothing for which to be thankful. Some patient-survivors are thankful from the start; others are transformed during the journey.

For what can people be thankful when they are dealing with cancer, treatment regimens, or side effects? Many people have told me, “I don’t know what I would have done without God in my life. I don’t know how people get through this without Him.” I’ve said that myself. It seems to be a starting point.

Miss Larine has mastered the art of thankfulness. “It’s been a good life,” she says. It isn’t often I hear someone over the age of eighty say they’ve had a good life. Miss Larine lives down the street from me. She can hardly walk now. A couple of years ago, she managed to walk down our block two or three times a week. Each time I saw her, she said, “I’m so thankful I can still walk and that I have neighbors around to look out for me.” Thankfulness. That’s how it’s done.

She grew up under the roof of an abusive father who mistreated her, her sisters, and her mother. In those days, there didn’t seem to be any way out for underprivileged and abused women, with or without children. “It made us all strong,” Miss Larine said. “I knew how to help my employees when they were mistreated at home. I recognized the signs. I could talk to them, then help them get the assistance they needed. Thankfully, there is even more help for people today.” That’s how it’s done.

When Miss Larine was still working, her mother became ill and needed to live with Miss Larine and her husband, Mr. Bob. “She was a wonderful mother all those years,” she said. “We had a good time together in the evening. It wasn’t that hard. I’m thankful she did so much for me.” That’s how it’s done.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, Mr. Bob was also ill. “Oh, I’ll be fine,” she said. “I’m just glad we can take care of each other. We two sickies will just thank the good Lord for every day.” After three years of treatment, nothing more could be done. How can Miss Larine be so thankful? “Well,” she said, “when I was a little girl, I went to church with a nice lady in the neighborhood on some Sundays. I was afraid a lot. My dad was a violent man. I was scrunched down behind my bed one night, hiding from him. I talked to God and asked Him to bring Jesus into my heart. He did. I’m so glad He died for me. I have loved God ever since.” That’s how it’s done.

It isn’t always easy to be thankful, although it seemed natural for Miss Larine. I’m not suggesting we slap a Band-Aid of thankfulness over our troubles. But exercising thankfulness as we go through the challenges and trials of cancer stretches our endurance. It helps us through each day, adds to our maturity, gives us the grace of gratitude, and enables us to experience the peace we’ll need when we face our personal trip to heaven.

Ask God to give you the ability to be thankful—in all circumstances.

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It's Cancer

It’s 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 venitamccart@gmail.com.

About Be the Light Editor

Martin Wiles is a minister, author, freelance editor, and English teacher who lives in Greenwood, SC. He is the founder of Love Lines from God and is the author of Grits & Grace and God and Grits, Gumbo and Going to Church. He serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions (www.christiandevotions.us) and Assistant Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He and his wife are parents of two and grandparents of three.