The Lord replied, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’
Then Moses said to him, ‘If your presence does not go with us,
do not send us up from here’
How important God’s presence is to us! All of us who live with cancer have faced difficult seasons when we have felt alone. We are alone with our thoughts as we contemplate the seriousness of a diagnosis; alone lying in the hospital awaiting surgery; alone spending long anxious moments under the eye of the scanner; alone with the seemingly endless discomfort of treatment; alone during sleepless nights; alone with our helplessness! We are alone but for one glorious truth. The Lord is with us!
We are not always able to experience God’s presence with us. Sometimes when we feel overwhelmed with the side effects of treatment, or discouraged by low energy, or anxious about the future, God may seem very far away. Perhaps one of the worst pains of all to endure is this spiritual pain of feeling separated from God.
The truth is, however, that God is with us whether we are able to experience God’s presence or not. God is with us in the midst of our darkest moments of life. Scriptures tells us that God goes before us, surrounds us, guides us, holds us by the hand and carries us in loving arms.
To you I call, O Lord my Rock;
do not turn a deaf ear to me.
For if you remain silent,
I will be like those
who have gone down to the pit.
Hear my cry for mercy
as I call to you for help,
as I lift up my hands
toward your Most Holy Place.
Praise be to the Lord
for he has heard my cry for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to him in song.
Psalm 28:1-2, 6-7
Questions for Discussion – Session 1
“You have let me experience the joys of life
and the exquisite pleasures of your own eternal presence.”
Psalms 16:ll (Living Bible)
1. Describe a specific time in your journey with cancer when God seemed far away.
2. What was that experience like for you?
3. What was helpful to you at that time?
4. Describe a specific time when you were especially aware of God’s presence with you.
Questions for Discussion – Session 2
Where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms. When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing him, so happy that you are tempted to feel his claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to him with gratitude and praise, you will be–or so it feels–welcomed with open arms. But go to him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After then, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become.
(C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed.)
1. What thoughts and feelings do you have about this quote from C.S.Lewis?
2. What is frightening about such an experience?
3. If you were in Lewis’ place what would you want most from friends?
4. What would you want most from God?