Encouragement on Chemo Day! Church at Einstein Bagels!

Encouragement on Chemo Day! Church at Einstein Bagels!

Thursday night, following a day of chemotherapy, I received the following message from a Facebook friend…a friend whom I have never met in real life, I might add.

Greg, I just wanted to share a story with you.

I thought of you today, even though we have never met. I have read your stories about listening to God when he prompts you to act. I’ve struggled with that and ignored it many times. Cause let’s be honest. Sometimes it’s just awkward.

I have twin grand baby boys that are in the hospital with RSV and one has pneumonia. It’s a scary time because they are preemies. Although if you see their pics you can see that they have not missed any meals.

I am here in Texas helping my son and DIL with the babies. This morning I was at Einstein bagel waiting on my order. I saw a big group of men and as I walked by I heard one of them saying something about scripture. I feel like God told me to ask them to pray for Beau and Bennett. But I was like Lord that is super awkward. Why are you asking me to do this?

Keeping in mind I am new to this I was struggling. I looked over and there were 3 women at a table with their bibles out. I feel like God was like ok…how about them!?

I’m like ok Lord I can do this. I walked to their table and admitted how awkward I felt. But I felt like the Lord led me to them. I told them our situation and they offered me a seat and we held hands and they prayed for my precious babies.

I just wanted you to know this. I am wanting so much to be obedient and respond when prompted. Those ladies were so gracious and loving. The prayer they prayed gave me so much peace that our Heavenly Father loves us and is victorious in all things!

Friends, when was the last time you were interrupted by God to do anything? Prior to cancer I do not recall a single time I acted in obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and that is because I was always moving too fast.

The fact is, God is offering you and me an opportunity to join Him on an adventure of a lifetime. Whether it is praying for someone, asking others to pray for you, buying someone a coffee or a beer or whatever?

Yes, it will be awkward at first, but when God prompts allow me to encourage you to do what He asks. When He does this He is inviting you to join Him in life that is truly life. I have discovered He is not a kill joy, He wants what’s best for us and in living this way I have never been more alive.

Join my new friend and me on our quest to follow Jesus and the prompting of the Holy Spirit and, if you will, lift a prayer for her grandbabies, Beau and Bennett.

Amen.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it in abundance.

Jesus of Nazareth

Sister Mary Olivia of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia

Sister Mary Olivia of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia

Over the years, while receiving treatment, I have had the privilege of praying with friends from all walks of life. Friends who were Asian, African American, Hispanic, Indian, Middle Eastern, Christian, Agnostic, Jewish, etc. There have been people who were wealthy and poor, successful and day laborers, young and old, a formerly incarcerated inmate covered in tats and today I met and prayed with two nuns.

Sister Mary Olivia is a nun with the Dominican Sisters of Saint Cecilia and while she does not have cancer she is wrestling with a chronic auto immune disease which is treated using chemotherapy. This sister and her friend and fellow nun are passionate followers of Jesus and they are full of love and energy. It was an absolute blast for me to meet them and pray with them.

This is yet another reminder chronic illnesses are no respecters of race, creed, nationality or faith. Illness is an equal opportunity offender, but while illness is set on destroying those it targets often it has the opposite effect on their spirit. Like the sisters I met today.

Yes, there were those today who were dragging around and throwing up in wastebaskets, heck…I’ve been there. There were also those who are attempting to squeeze the life out of every moment, even while enduring a treatment. Sister Mary Olivia is one of those.

She promised she would invite my family and me to their home here in Nashville and I cannot wait to go. Yes, cancer sucks but there are benefits to suffering and today I experienced one of them first hand, I made a friend.

There’s no doubt in my mind God was looking down on the nuns and me this afternoon with a smile. When our kids get along and play well with other kids it brings us joy and I don’t think God the Father is any different.

Amen.

God does not make mistakes and He is not asleep at the wheel.

God does not make mistakes and He is not asleep at the wheel.

Today, I sit in our family room with aches and pains from the infection we are treating. Thursday will be round 66 of chemotherapy and already I don’t feel well.

Friends are prepping and planning for the new year. They are setting goals, dreaming dreams, envisioning successes, etc. and frankly, I feel as though I am missing out. To some extent I feel I am on the outside looking in.

Yet, when I consider certain people, heroes of mine if you will, I realize they too struggle/struggled with loss and ailments of various kinds, yet they press/pressed on. They did not let their losses or ailments define them. No, they strive/strove in the midst of the loss and suffering and are/were used in amazing ways.

Who are these people you may be wondering?

Joni Eareckson Tada

Paralyzed from a diving accident. Cancer survivor. Confined to a wheelchair for 50 years. She is an author, painter, radio host, etc. Joni understands suffering and God continues to use her in the disability community and beyond.

Bob Buford

Lost only child, Ross, when Ross was 24 in an accidental drowning. For years, Linda and Bob have suffered this loss daily yet they have led the way as philanthropists investing in kingdom initiatives and activities that are changing the world.

Martha Croy

Martha was my friend, from my late teens / early 20s, who had ALS. Martha slowly atrophied, due to this terrible disease, yet she continued to write letters to the editor using a keyboard and her one functioning finger. Every time I visited her, in the nursing home, her room was full of people because she could bring others comfort and joy with all she had remaining…a simple smile.

“The shortest distance between two hearts is always the way of brokenness.”

Ann Voskamp

To some extent these ailments, these issues are gifts. If we are willing to live in a vulnerable manner sharing our struggles with one another, then it will provide the opportunity to take the suffering and brokenness and allow it to accomplish what God intended. Personal connection and encouragement to others.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I Thessalonians 5

Did the Apostle Paul actually mean to thank God in ALL circumstances? Really?

So, I am to thank God when I am hurting from the infection? Yes.

How about when I am lamenting I have another round of chemo to endure? Yes.

Even when I have diarrhea? Yep, even then.

The Apostle Paul offered no qualifiers in these verses. Why, I wonder?

See…I am learning there is more to life than health, wealth and prosperity. Real life is found in real stuff not just on the mountaintops. Friendships are forged deeply during hard times and families are drawn together during times of struggle and ultimately we are drawn to God when we have need.

God does not make mistakes and He is not asleep at the wheel. He knows our greatest joy will come when we are connected to him and others and this is more likely to occur when we are suffering.

So…yes…this is a gift and probably the reason we should give thanks in all circumstances.

Amen.