“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV
It has been a while since I have added to this series of posts related to my lung cancer. I have begun several posts that still sit in my ‘draft’ queue. That is partly due to my inability to focus, which seems to become more difficult every day.
But that is fodder for another post entirely. This one is about prayer.
In looking for a verse about prayer (and there are many to choose from), the one above grabbed me, and seemed very appropriate, although some with potentially terminal illnesses may find difficulty with the first and third admonishments in those verses.
So let’s break it down.
I mean, let’s be real. Rejoice and give thanks in all circumstances? Even all of mine? I have lung cancer, I just had a melanoma removed from my back (still another post?); the top of my bookcase in my bedroom looks like a pharmacy in a small town, each medication supplying it’s own set of side effects, some ultimately treated with still more medication; I have allergies, asthma, and COPD – I could go on and on, but then, so can every living person on this planet.
So I won’t.
Instead, I will pray for the courage, the strength, and the commitment to see all of the reasons I have to rejoice and give thanks.
Today, sitting in my little 12′ x 12′ 2nd floor corner of the house in Washington, DC I rent, I found myself looking around at most of my worldly possessions (the other 10% is my prized ’93 Jeep parked outside at the curb on this windy, yet beautiful Saturday morning) and I gave thought momentarily to beginning the task of ‘downsizing’ and making ‘the end’ (dark, ominous music playing in the background) more manageable.
But then I prayed, and my prayer went something like this:
How shamefully selfish of me to even think about giving up, when you continue to bless me with a life that is full of reasons to rejoice and be thankful. How can I even think about ‘the end’ when each morning brings about a new beginning, full of opportunities to serve You, to glorify You, and to demonstrate the power of my faith in You? How can I allow myself to let self-pity even begin to creep into my consciousness when you have blessed me with so much?
Lord, if I even began to enumerate the ways in which you give me grace, mercy, forgiveness, and your boundless love on a daily basis, I would have to spend the entire day on my knees.
Sometimes I get so tired of my physical condition that I simply want it to be over, but You are right there to remind me of just how many reasons I have to continue.
Sometimes I want the end to come so the aches and the pains, the hurting and the heartache, and the loneliness and isolation I feel at times all goes away.
But You have showered me with friends and family who love me and support me. You have given me a truly beautiful place to live, and a view across the reservoir of the spire at Howard University, pointing skyward as a constant reminder of the fact that I can always look to You when negativity attempts to assume control of my life.
You have led me to Central Union Mission and helped me secure a position where I can demonstrate to others what having You in their lives can do for them as well. It is a place where I can touch another human being’s life and perhaps, with Your wisdom and guidance, I can help them to see that they are precious children of Yours as well, and that they are loved and cared about beyond our ability to comprehend. A place where I can do my best to help them learn that they have talents and abilities they never even imagined they have. A place where I can contribute, if only a little, to opening another person’s eyes to the possibilities that exist for them in this amazing and intricately designed world You created.
It has no place here, for it is my faith, made stronger through the sacrifices made by Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that will always pick me up and carry me through the rough spots until the day of Your choosing, not mine, when I will join You in Your Kingdom in that special place You have reserved for me (a small corner room with a view like I have right now will do just fine).
Do I pray enough? We both know I do not, Lord, and the reason for that lies in my brokenness as a human being.
But I pray now, Lord. And I rejoice in the new heart and the new eyes You have given me, and in the new person You have made me.
And I give thanks to You, Lord, for Your Son, whose death on the Cross gives me the strength to be thankful in all circumstances.
As the Bible tells us in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
Where I am weak, You are strong. Where I want to give up, You help me push onward. Where I see the end, You show me a beginning.
Father, I thank you for the gift of this new day. Let me rejoice in it, and use it wisely.
There’s a well-known commercial for a credit card company that asks the question, “What’s in your wallet?”
How about we change that up a little bit and make it, “What’s in your heart?”
God’s in mine, and I will rejoice and be thankful for that.
And I will pray.