Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love
we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Cancer means that we can no longer pretend that we are immortal. Our mortality and human frailties become very real to us. We no longer assume that the future is ours. Each day becomes a gift of life. We learn to live one day at a time.
One of the reasons we do well to live one day at a time is because the fear of what the future might hold can overwhelm us. When we are in early stages of surviving cancer, we are especially vulnerable to experiencing a great deal of anxiety as we think about next month or next year or the next five years. We can become so focused on the “what ifs” about the future that we miss enjoying the gift of life today.
Jesus said “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34). Peter reminded us that we can “cast all our anxiety on him because he cares for us.”(I Peter 5:7) We can release our tomorrows into God’s tender care so that we can be free to fully embrace his gift of today.
It can be a helpful practice to begin each day with a simple prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of life today. This practice can help us to stay focused on the present and to live each day to its fullest.
It is also helpful to find other simple ways to embrace the gift of today. Saying “I love you” to family members, calling a friend, writing a note, taking a walk, noticing the beauty of God’s world around us are a few examples. John Claypool wrote about this in his book entitled Tracks of a Fellow Struggler:
Only when life is seen as a gift and received with the open hands of gratitude is it the joy God meant for it to be….The way of gratitude does not alleviate pain, but it somehow puts some light around the darkness and builds strength to begin to move on.
May you celebrate the gift of life today.
Questions for Discussion – Session 1
1. What worries and anxieties do you have about the future?
2. In what ways do these anxieties interfere with your ability to enjoy today?
3. What practical things can you do to live one day at a time?
Questions for Discussion – Session 2
1. What good things did you enjoy today?
2. What good things do you anticipate enjoying tomorrow?
3. What are you facing today that you need strength for?