Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything by prayer and petition,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds
in Christ Jesus.
Cancer produces fear and anxiety. Any sense of peace that we may have once had in life seems shattered. Life is suddenly full of cares and worries.
The person with cancer may wonder, “How sick will the treatments make me? Will I be here next Christmas? Will I see the children graduate or marry? How will my family cope with my illness? How will we pay all the bills? When can I go back to being productive?”
Family members may wonder, “How will I do all the extra work of taking this person to treatment and doing the things he or she cannot do now? Will life ever be good for us again? Will he or she be here next Christmas? Will I be able to cope with all the feelings I have?”
These are not small worries. These are significant concerns in response to real threats. Is it possible in the face of such concerns to ever know real peace again?
What is peace? Is it the absence of problems? Is it the absence of unpleasant emotions? If that were the case, then no one would ever experience peace, because life is full of problems and we experience all kinds of emotions every day with or without cancer.
Peace is not the absence of problems or the absence of strong emotions. Peace is a deep, internal calm in the midst of a storm. It is a calm that comes from an awareness that God has not forgotten or forsaken us, that God holds us securely in loving hands.
Peace is the experience a child has when a parent hold her during a thunderstorm. It is the security that comes from knowing that we are loved.
Peace is knowing that nothing can separate us from God’s love.
When peace seems to desert us and the anxieties of living with cancer take over, we are invited to bring our requests to God. We are invited to bring all our worries to God so that God can give us peace. A peace that is beyond our understanding. A peace that will guard our hearts and minds.
When we bring our worries and concerns to God it might be helpful to use a biblical image of God as we pray. We can picture God as a Shepherd joyfully bending down and picking us up to carry us in his arms. We can picture God as the Everlasting King and Creator who opens his hands to provide good things for all he has made. Or we can picture God in Jesus, welcoming us as little children, gently putting his arm around us to draw us to himself.
When I said, “My foot is slipping,
your love, O Lord, supported me,
your consolation brought joy to my soul.
Psalm 95: 18-19
Questions for Discussion – Session 1
1. What worries disturb your peace?
2. What do you do when your are worried that is not helpful?
3, What do you do that is helpful?
4 What past experiences have helped you to grow more confident of God’s love for you?
Questions for Discussion – Session 2
Read Romans 8:31-39
1. According to this text what things might threaten our peace?
2. What, according to this text, has God given us out of his love for us?
3. How could the truth that nothing can separate you from God’s love, increase your experience of peace?