Today was my 15th trip to the Cancer Center (sounds strange to read those words). At the end of this week, on Friday, I will receive radiation treatment number 18 so I’ll be just past the half-way mark of this journey. And while I’m in a battle every single day I meet someone who is in a bigger and more frightening battle than me. Today I met a man named Rusty who is 54 (one year older than me). He’s having radiation to treat a cancer in his throat right on the edge of his vocal chords. The Dr.’s have told him there’s a good chance me will lose his voice. On top of that he’s already had three back surgeries and a year ago December he was laid off from his job and hasn’t been able to find a new one or qualify for disability. NOTE: I’d like to ask you to add Rusty to your prayer list.
If you walk into the doors of the Cancer Center than no doubt you’re going through a difficult time in your life. But when difficult times come we need to remember that the Bible teaches us that there are certain things that we need to hang on to in order to make it through. One great example is found in Psalm 20. Let me just list them for you.
- Hang on to your hope. Psalm 20:1 says, May the Lord answer you when you are in distress (trouble); may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. (NIV) In verse 5, he writes, May we shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God (those banners should say “Great Joy!”). When you’re in a difficult time in your life you need to remind yourself that while things are ugly now, God is going to see you through
- Hang on to your commitments. Psalm 20:3 says, May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. (NIV) Oftentimes when we are in a time of difficulty we are tempted to stop everything we’re doing or at least put it on hold until things turn around. But when you stop being faithful to God (in worship – in service – in giving) it’s almost like you’re saying, “This isn’t working…I’m not getting my money’s worth for all that I’m contributing, if I were I wouldn’t be going through this difficult time.” But that’s not how it works. We need to hang on to our commitments even in difficult times because God continues to see our faithfulness and He won’t forget. Hebrews 6:10 says, For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers as you still do. (NIV) NOTE: I’ve been thrilled at the attendance and the giving that have taken place over the past three weeks while I have been in treatment. Thank you, church family, for hanging on to your commitments in this difficult time for all of us.
- Hang on to your dreams. Psalm 20:4 says, May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. (NIV) When I was first diagnosed with this cancer I have to be honest and say I had thoughts that I might not ever be able to preach and lead the church again. I don’t have those thoughts anymore. Instead, I look forward to coming back and being a better preacher and leader than ever before. That’s my hearts desire.
- Hang on to your prayers. Psalm 20:5b says, May the Lord grant all your requests. (NIV) God wants to answer our prayers so we need to continue to pray. What a blessing it is to know that so many people, all over the world, are praying for me. And my encouragement is to be persistent in those prayers.
- Hang on to your priorities. Psalm 20:7 says, Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. (NIV) There’s nothing like walking through a difficult experience to help you see exactly where your priorities need to be. As Christians, our priority is the Sovereign God who created and sustains all things. Every other choice falls short.
Thank you all for your continued love and support. Thank you for your faithfulness to the ministry of Mount Pleasant Christian Church. And thank you for praying for me each and every day. I love you and miss you and look forward to the day I will be back in the pulpit. Here are some updated prayer requests:
- Pray that my pain meds will ease the discomfort in my throat that’s only going to get worse over the next few weeks (this is a big deal when I try to sleep).
- Pray that I maintain a satisfactory weight. Right now I’ve lost about eight pounds. I’m told that those who lose the least amount of weight do the best.
- Pray the radiation that my thyroid is receiving as a part of the overall treatment will not do any permanent damage.
- Pray for me to have the strength to meet this challenge one day at a time.