One of the last text messages that my friend Amy sent to me before her valiant battle with cancer ended said this, “My Bible explains that ‘when we take our last breath on earth, we will take our first breath in heaven.’ Cool, huh?”
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16)
While reading the cancer-health magazines at the oncologist’s office I noticed that life, post cancer, was described by the number of years we live after being deemed cancer free. Life becomes categorized as the pre-cancer years, time spent in treatment, and then the years we live post cancer. People are linked with their longevity. “Sally is a one-year cancer survivor.” “Beth is two years in remission, Charlie four years in remission, and Patty is amazingly ten years cancer free.”
At first I was offended by this. Is our life expectancy so short that we need to start measuring time in smaller increments, with percentage rates for survival? “So-and-so has an 80% chance of making it to the one year mark.” Are people weighing the odds and placing bets? Admittedly, I had a bad attitude. I didn’t want my life to be measured in such short-sighted terms.
Then I started treatment. Wow. My mind totally changed. I had taken everyday life for granted before and now I realized it was a gift. Completing each stage of my medical plan became a triumph, perhaps because sometimes the days seemed so long. During the worst of the side effects, the minutes became grueling. How long would it be before the pain killer kicked in? I would sometimes play mental games to work through the discomfort, singing songs, reciting the states in alphabetical order, or doing crossword puzzles to try to take my mind off of it. I prayed for God to help me, and He did.
After finishing radiation treatments the staff gave me a starfish pin to signify my accomplishment and a card signed by the entire radiation team. It was a victory and my mindset changed. I now thought, “Sally is a one-year cancer survivor. Way to go Sally!” That is her badge of honor and definitely worth celebrating.
God has numbered our days. He created us.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13–14)
He walks with us daily and has an intimate knowledge of who we are today.
O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. (Psalm 139:1–3)
He calls to us:
I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, “You are my servant”; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:9–10)
He saves us.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9)
And He knows when our last day on earth will take place. But that day is not to be feared. It is another day worthy of celebration, the best kind of celebration.
He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. (1 Thessalonians 5:10)
Excerpted from The Bald Headed, Tattooed, Motorcycle Mama’s Devotional Guide: For Women Battling Cancer & Those Who Love Them copyright 2013 Sara Nelson O’Brien
All photos courtesy of pixabay.com