“Building Up the Body: Worker-to-Worker” is a series of church worker wellness devotions. Visit lcms.org/wellness for more resources.
By David Sorensen, pastoral psychotherapist
A light in the darkness of cancer
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Cor. 4:6–7 NIV)
This past year my wife and I have been living with cancer — she the patient, and I, a not-so-patient caregiver.
It has been a humbling experience, first discovering how far the cancer advanced, hidden and undetected by routine mammograms and checkups, then discovering how aggressive cancer therapies impact body, mind and spirit.
Nothing in our lives escaped the potent, cancer killing, energy sapping power of the chemical cocktail that shrank the tumor and challenged our faith.
Feelings of helplessness, apprehension, doubt, and sadness occasionally would break through our best efforts to stay focused on our daily lives with eyes fixed on Him.
Still, God’s Light was in the midst of our experiences. Somehow, what could have dragged us down, instead drew us together.
Words of encouragement from other cancer survivors, generous acts of friendship, support, and reminders that we were being prayed for kept our spirits up when our motivation sagged.
The reassurance of God’s love and His presence in the promises of the Bible, as well as through stories we read about how others grew through the challenges they faced, reminded us that God was not through with us yet.
Quiet times of prayer strengthened our conviction that in His hands our lives and this cancer could serve a greater purpose.
There the power of the Holy Spirit was in these treasures that sustained us as we struggled with the vulnerability that comes from living in our body-formed ‘jars of clay.’
After a year of chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and two surgeries we now have come to the other side, breathing a sigh of relief that we have made it this far, even as we wonder what the ‘new normal’ will be.
Simple things done together take on greater significance: working together in the garden, watching a television show, going to church, holding each other’s hand.
Most importantly, “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” continues to make his presence known even in the darkness and uncertainty that is so much a part of our experiences in this broken world.
The reality of Christ’s death and resurrection, His life-giving Spirit in us, His promise that nothing can separate us from Him, not life and certainly not death — what a treasure!
Lord, when we feel afraid and threatened by what so abruptly pushes its way into our lives, let your Light shine in the darkness of our uncertainty so that we may rest in the confidence that you are with us. Help us to do more than just survive; help us to thrive and grow as we listen and learn the lessons this experience is teaching us through Jesus Christ. In His name we pray, Amen.
LCMS church workers and their families are invited to offer encouragement to other workers and families by submitting a 500-word devotion for the Synod’s worker-to-worker wellness devotion series. Email questions and submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.