Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you,
I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.
Every cancer patient and cancer family member knows that fear is every bit as great a foe as cancer itself. Fear floods in when the news is bad and quietly creeps in when the news is good. Those who’ve felt betrayed by their body once, never fully trust it to stay healthy again. They know too well what can happen.
Questions born of fear swirl in the background of our lives.
Is the chemotherapy working? Is the cancer truly gone? What are the chances it will return? Will our child suffer lasting, long term effects from this treatment? Will she be fully cured? Will she live a normal life?
Jesus himself repeatedly tells us NOT to fear in the gospels and the rest of Scripture is full of the same admonition from beginning to end. If God tells us not to do something, it must be possible — but how do we NOT FEAR when faced with a threat like cancer? Our family hasn’t arrived at a place of “no fear” yet, but we are determined to pursue that destination. Our little girl likely has a long life ahead of her that should be lived apart from the shadow of fear.
Though we haven’t fully stamped out the flames of fear, we know not to add fuel to the fire. Our imaginations can take us places we were never meant to go. We should be well-informed about leukemia, but not obsessed with knowing every possible problem that might develop. Leukemia is a part of our lives, but not the center of it. That place is reserved for better things.
My granddaughter has regained much of her vigor after the scorched earth of earlier phases of treatment and often happily plays throughout her day. Yet in some ways, we are afraid to feel too hopeful that things are getting easier and that she will feel better from here on out. We’ve had bumps in the road, like leg pain flaring up and a concerning lab result that will be followed up with a re-test on Friday. We know she could still have a setback or suffer a relapse — then all our hopes would be dashed. Isn’t it easier to expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised if it turns out better? It’s how we humans cope, but that kind of living is one of diminutive faith and lackluster joy. Jesus calls us to an abundant life, a life of growing joy and greater faith. He always calls us to fear less and trust more. We are to welcome every good day with thanksgiving, and trust that His loving provision covers tomorrow.
The faithfulness of God throughout our cancer journey has fed and built up our faith, and by His grace, we are seeking out those things that will make our faith grow even more. We believe His promises. We study His Word. We sing His praises. We bow our knee to His will. We trust in His goodness.
Keep feeding faith and it will grow.
These are the words He keeps whispering to us.
Keep feeding faith and it will grow.
When faith is fed, the flames of fear die down, begin to smolder . . . and fade away.
Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear. Rather look at them with full hope that as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them. He has kept you hitherto; do you but hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand, He will bear you in His arms.
The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then. Put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
Frances de Sales