They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD. Psalm 112:7 NIV
The diagnosis comes. It’s devastating: a year, possibly two, maybe as many as 5 at best. Now what? The first emotion you will most likely experience is shock, the second is fear, the third is confusion. You ask yourself, “Why is this happening?” “What are we going to do?”
I’ve been there. Several years ago, I waited a year and a half to die. Fortunately, the devastating primary diagnosis that the Mayo Clinic suspected never progressed past the initial stage. However, during that time, I needed words of encouragement. I needed to be lifted up. I needed to be cheered on. Words of encouragement helped me get through and I learned to embrace life’s most difficult challenge.
When facing a life-changing health challenge you will most likely be searching for answers. If you are like me, you may be asking some of these questions:
- If God is good, why am I going through this?
- What will my family do?
- How do I fight the fear that is trying to consume me?
- How can I encourage reconciliation in our family at this time?
- Where can I find peace in the journey?
- What will happen when I die?
- Is there life after death?
- What is heaven like?
When I was battling illness for a year and a half, I stood on God’s promises: they were all I had. I had been so sick that, when I was only five minutes away from my home, I couldn’t find my way back. Making my bed was too great a challenge. Brushing my hair took more energy than I had to offer. Day after day I felt myself getting weaker and weaker. I knew that this battle was far greater than what I could handle, so I went first to the church to be anointed with oil. I asked the leadership team to pray the prayer of faith over me for healing. I grabbed every promise written in the word of God. I wrote those scriptures down and I declared them over and over. I reminded God that I was in covenant with Him and that He was a covenant-keeping God. He does not lie. He does not break His word. Conversely, He watches over His word to fulfill it.
A certain thought kept running through my head like a broken record: “Robin, are you going to believe what you’ve taught for the last thirty years or are you going to give up and give in to this battle?” I finally had to ask myself. “Do you believe?” I recognized that this questioning was how God was trying to get me to see that, yes, I did believe and that I was ready to fight. Thank You, Lord, for your persistence. His sweet Spirit kept prompting me to look into my own heart to determine what was actually there. Your beliefs will define your life. Your beliefs will define your death. Your beliefs will define everything in between. Here are some things that I learned to do in the midst of my own personal struggles.
Every day is a gift, so be sure to fill that day with joy.
Know from where your joy emanates. Joy is an emotion, which inspires our most unselfish desires, motivates us to live well, and prompts us to give to others what we have been given. It subdues the anxious heart. Our joy is not limited by the confines of our present situation; it is deeply rooted in the confidence we have in Jesus Christ. It cannot be uprooted or subdued.
No man is guaranteed tomorrow. We are only assured of this very day and moment. Make every moment count. Visit your children and grandchildren. Walk on the beach. Read a good book. Eat your favorite foods. Do those small things that bring great joy to your heart.
Situations can change for the better when God is concerned.
My horrifying medical situation improved over time. I remember how scared I felt, but I turned that fear into faith and decided that I would fight. In the midst of our deepest pain, God is watching to see if we will reach for His abundant promises. Everyone facing devastating struggles has to make up his own mind: whether to accept and give in, or to fight.
Take control of your own situation and refuse to be a victim.
As I was developing various approaches to firm up my physical condition, I remember being told by one of my doctors to throw away my vitamins. I am so very thankful that I did not. I took control, did the necessary research necessary to do all I could to help my condition, and was determined to speak up for myself. Your opinions matter and you have every right to express them. I encourage you to pursue and incorporate all possible approaches related to your health and healing.
Understand the power of prayer.
God leads us to pray, and wisdom tells us we need to do it. Prayer is the key to the journey, and it certainly plays a crucial role in your emotional and spiritual healing. If you don’t currently have a robust prayer life, there’s no time like the present to begin. Additionally, surround yourself with dedicated, trusted “prayer warriors” who will join you and come into agreement with your prayers. Numerous studies have shown a high correlation between prayer and the rate of recovery of individuals suffering from many different types of illness. Whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual, prayer is a proven tool for our ultimate healing.
Grow in faith.
Faith is believing that something good will happen, and that belief becomes the substance of things hoped for. The act of fear is believing that something bad will happen, and that belief becomes the substance of what is expected. They are both actions based on belief. Therefore, the question arises, “Do you have faith or do you walk in fear?” Here is the answer you should focus on: Hear, believe, obey.
While we are all given a “measure of faith,” how do we know if it is a strong enough faith to survive a devastating situation like those we’ve discussed? It is nearly impossible to know how strong your faith is until you are forced to depend upon it. The depth and steadfastness of our faith only emerges as we come face-to-face with our own doubts and questions. It is in that place that we find out who God really is to us, and who we really are to God. He knows your struggles and He is willing to carry them for you if you let Him.
Trust that God is with you.
Throughout our lives, and regardless of our circumstances, the Bible assures us that God is faithful, truthful and unchanging. We are all familiar with the words of Psalm 136: Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. These words are easy to grasp when the news from the doctor is good, but perhaps not so easy when the report is bad. Regardless of the situation, God is lovingly and personally involved in our lives. He is with us at all times, and may be using our trials to fulfill His plan for someone else. I encourage you to focus on a phrase that encouraged me through my own health challenge: God sees. God hears. God knows. God cares.
Today, I challenge you to fill your days with joy and look at what God is doing in the midst of your own personal darkness. Refuse to be a victim of your circumstances and choose to believe that God can turn things around at any given moment. Ask yourself, “What has been a blessing to me today? What little spark of joy have I experienced? What good has happened around me?” Then thank God for that good. Thank Him that He is with you. Thank Him that His Spirit dwells within you. When facing many of my own personal struggles, my comfort was found in knowing the voice of God. My comfort was found as I read and meditated on the truth of God’s word. My comfort was found as I chose to believe for the impossible when I was told it was useless. Most importantly, believe that God is sovereign and will work all things together for your good and His glory.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 NIV