Fear Walking Through Cancer
If you’re reading this when this goes live it’s just before Easter 2021. Tomorrow is Good Friday when Jesus, wearing a crown of thorns and bloodied, beaten, bruised, tortured, humiliated carried his cross out of Jerusalem to Golgotha – the place of the skull – a gruesome place where thieves and those considered political terrorists against Rome, were crucified.
As Jesus hung there, long iron nails through His hands and feet, holding Him in the most agonizing of positions, Roman soldiers continued to mock Him, spit in His face, gamble for His clothes and look on. The crowd started to jeer “He saved others but he can’t even save himself” asking Jesus, “what kind of Messiah are you?”
Finally he breathes his last breath, is taken down from the cross, wrapped in linen and laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea.
Spoiler alert!! That’s not the end of the story. Three days later Jesus is alive, eating and drinking, chatting and making himself known to his disciples before going to heaven to be with His Father and sending His Spirit in his place.
We know this is what we celebrate at Easter, we’re excited that he’s alive today and understands what it means to suffer deeply.
But maybe, if you’re anything like me, when you’re afraid and hurting, the words of the onlookers at the crucifixion sound familiar. You might not be mocking Jesus’ obedience to his father and therefore unwillingness to save Himself, but there’s a small part of you asking
You saved others and You saved Yourself…why won’t You heal me? What kind of Messiah are you?
The trouble is, even if we know in our heads that He is kind, real and near, and even if, when we really challenge ourselves we know that deep down we really do believe and trust God, it doesn’t mean living life on the daily is less painful, worrying or overwhelming.
We still battle fear every. single. day.
Last week I hosted the Trusting God Through Cancer Summit (maybe you were there and this is how you found CCP – if so, yay! Welcome!) but as people registered I asked them what their biggest struggle with cancer is and you can guess the most common answer can’t you? Yup, it was FEAR.
Fear of the unknown, fear of the pain, fear of leaving family and loved ones (especially those that depend on us physically, financially) alone, fear the cancer will return.
As soon as we’re diagnosed with cancer we don’t just face a battle against the disease we must fight its sidekick fear as well.
We know God’s perfect love casts out fear, we know he understands our pain and suffering, but still we fight the constant fear.
It’s like playing whack a mole with an invisible enemy. As soon as we defeat fear in one area it pops up in another. When we smash that another one, another, and finally the original one is back again but bigger and stronger and more powerful than before.
So what does Easter mean when we can’t shake this underlying, ever present fear?
How does Jesus’ resurrection change things?
How can we live in a post-Easter reality and not be wracked by constant fear?
If you follow me on social media you might have seen that someone close to me has recently been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. And as soon as I heard all the feelings rose to the top:
- Anger that cancer was at it again
- Fear for what lay ahead for my friend
- Worry that maybe my cancer would come back and I wasn’t done with it after all
So I want to dive into fear today and in the next couple of weeks because I don’t want any of us to be held captive to this ever-present reality.
Just for a moment imagine how different your life and cancer journey would be if no matter what happened in fight against cancer, every time fear, worry, anxiety or the terrors come at us, we could stop them bossing us around, quieten them down, and not let them rule our minds?
But instead imagine having the confidence to know you had what it takes to conquer any and every fear and, feel peaceful no matter what’s going on or the news we hear.
I wish I could tell you I had three easy steps to never feel afraid again but I don’t and if anyone tells you they do I’d be very wary.
We can’t stop fear raising its ugly head but we can do what psychologist Susan David says and fear walk through cancer.
You may have heard me mention Susan David’s work before and if you’ve read my book Breathe Again, you’ll know I’m a big fan of hers, but her premise is that fear in itself isn’t bad, it’s simply an emotion and emotions aren’t inherently bad or good. They are simply signposts to our next action.
So how does this relate to Easter and the question of fear and what kind of God we have? Well, Easter changes everything.
Because of Easter, here’s the truth we can walk in:
- Jesus suffered and understands our fear and pain.
- He sent His Spirit to comfort, guide and lead us through life, including and maybe especially, through our hardest, most painful and frightening times.
- If we take our lead from Jesus and fear-walk into our next right thing, it always leads to life and healing – both now and eternally.
Yes, as cancer survivors and thrivers we’re going to be afraid, often very afraid, but because of Easter and because we live this side of the cross, we also have all we need to walk in and through fear, to take our next step.
We’re equipped to fear walk – not letting it boss us around but using it to find what we need – which is Jesus. Because of Easter we can do as Jesus did – fear walk as we carry our cross.
Jesus fear walked to the cross because:
- He was confident in his identity as God’s son. In the same way we can have confidence of his love as his children
- He knew it was God’s good and perfect plan, no matter how painful that plan might be. And we can have that confidence too.
If Jesus had listened to the mockers and haters and saved Himself, we would have no Easter, no Messiah who knows our fears and pain, no Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us, no resurrection power living inside us to move us ahead and there would have been no victory over Satan
He would have won.
So friends, let’s fear walk like Jesus did and let’s celebrate this Easter!
He’s the kind of Messiah that fear-walked the horrific journey to the cross, not just so we can be forgiven and be in right relationship with his father, but so he could ultimately go to the father and send the most powerful fear fighting weapon known to man. His Holy Spirit.
As always, I want to end with our our guided prayer practice with the acronym TRUST.
Thanking Him for who he is and what he’s done. Resting in his love. Unburdening our hearts. Surrendering our hopes, fears and needs. Taking Him at his word.
If you haven’t already, you can download your own copy of our TRUST prayer practice on a beautiful book mark below!
Or listen on Apple Podcasts.
If you haven’t already, download your TRUST prayer book mark HERE so you can pray along with me and pray with more confidence and less doubt in the week ahead.
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