Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Waiting for Cancer Tests—you got to walk that lonesome valley by yourself…or do we?

In the late fifties there was a popular song entitled “You Got to Walk that Lonesome Valley.” Some of the words are:

"You've got to walk that lonesome valley

Well you gotta go by yourself

Well there ain't nobody else gonna go there for you

You gotta go there by yourself."

Waiting for the results of your cancer test can seem like one is walking in a long, lonesome valley. People who go through this will agree with what I’m saying. Whenever I have upcoming tests to see if my cancer has returned, I get edgy. I get more depressed; I isolate myself on purpose. Problems at work seem much larger than they really are, relationships seem more tenuous. Every ache or twinge gets exaggerated… “has the cancer spread?” Every thought lost in mid-sentence raises the idea “I wonder has it spread to my brain?”

Some people may think I’m nuts but anyone awaiting tests has experienced this in some way or form. Most of us keep all this to our selves. We, by choice, walk that lonesome valley alone and it sucks. After some thought and inspiration from John Piper (“Let’s not waste our cancer, let’s live each day to the fullest”) whether we have cancer or not, today could be our last day. Let’s not keep all the pain and all the joy to ourselves. Whether we want to believe it or not, cancer can be a blessing. Yes, it shifts our priorities, shifts them back to what is really important. Our relationship with God, new found appreciation for our marriages, and our children. Work is still work but if we look for it a reward and satisfaction are somewhere in the mix.

Cancer is not a detour in life. It is life. Why do we think we’re exempt from getting it? Why should everyone else get cancer and not me? Why do other people lose loved ones in tragic accidents yet I’ve been spared that? Life in this sinful world is cancer and tragic accidents along with joy and sheer delight all mixed in…that’s life.

We must keep involved in life, we cannot withdraw. A lot of people don’t want to hear about our aches and pains. Yet if we pray and search, God has gifted certain people with the gift of encouragement and the long lost ability to just listen; to be still and yet love us and encourage us.

The world and its songs may say “You got to walk this lonesome valley by yourself.” We can walk it alone or with someone else; the choice is ours. But, if we are a believer, we don’t walk it alone, the Lord is with us. Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” The Lord is with us. His rod (an instrument of authority; He rules the universe and eternity) and His staff (an instrument used to control, rescue, guide and protect sheep) comfort us. What is God’s comfort? It is His reassurance that He is on the throne in control of all things and we need not worry. Good news!!

Remember, whether we are on the mountain top or in the valley, whether we’re riding the horse given us or crawling to the finish line, we need to remember the Lord is with us. This is good news. Hang in there; the Lord is good. Amen.

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