Amy was always a good fighter. When we were young we would do physical battle. It would start out as a wrestling match, sparring, a test of our strength. Then one blow would fall a little too fiercely and war would break loose. I distinctly remember Amy’s mom admonishing us, “Little girls should not fight.”
One winter we built an igloo on Amy’s front lawn. It was a glorious snow dome with one room and a tunnel door. We enjoyed it immensely until we got mad at each other, probably over something trivial. Then Amy said I couldn’t play in the snow fort anymore. “But I helped build it” I said. “It is on my property” she countered. War. Punches flew. Half nelsons, full nelsons. Tumbling, tumbling, tumbling right through the roof of our snow fort. It was destroyed.
Amy was fierce, a worthy opponent. That is why it was particularly hard to hear defeat in her voice during some of the difficult days of her illness.
There are dark times in the midst of our battle with cancer. They may have started long before even knowing our diagnosis.
As an LPN, I took care of many special people fighting cancer. Some of the war wounds were horrendous. Some battles so difficult to watch I pushed them way down into the back corners of my mind and hoped I wouldn’t have to visit often, if ever. Then the attack became more personal. My mother-in-law. An uncle. My best friend. Then me. How do we cope with this personal siege?
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. (Psalm 46:1–2)
How is that possible? How do we stop fear when our world is giving way? The dark times: the pain, the fatigue, the unanswered questions, and times when we want to throw in the towel. The loss of loved ones, finding out the cancer cells are back, or will always be there. Hearing the words, “I’m sorry, but there is nothing more we can do.” Our bodies are tired, they are frail, and maybe they are losing this fight. How do we stop our heart from quaking within us? How do we have hope?
There is no quick answer, no one page wonder. It is a glance into eternity. A taking in of God’s word, breathing in His life, peering into His future. Our bodies will not last forever. Perhaps you have heard it said that from the moment we are born we begin to die. Death is the natural consequence to life. So is that it? We live, we suffer, we die? No, no, and no! That is not it. We were not created to die.
Here is the true wonder: God created us with an eternal future in mind, a future He prepared for us from the beginning of time. A good, eternal future, without pain, without suffering, where death is destroyed. One we will live in with new bodies. A place where our hopes here, will be fulfilled and satisfied.
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (2 Corinthians 5:1)
This is where our focus needs to turn in the battle: to the other side of the finish line. We still need to fight the good fight here, but also keep in mind where our true prize dwells and to remember—again and again—we are not in the battle alone. God continues to fight with us, and for us.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16–18)
“Losing Heart” is an excerpt from Sara’s book The Bald-Headed, Tattooed, Motorcycle Mama’sDevotional Guide for Women Battling Cancer and Those Who Love Them available at Amazon.com.
All photos are courtesy of pixabay.com.