The Proper Place
He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.
—Ephesians 1:21, nlt
No doctor ever proclaimed, “You have cancer,” when I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. My father, a physician, responded to a texted photo of my bulging neck by texting back, “It looks like lymphoma,” so I knew cancer was a possibility. My primary-care doctor said, “Your CT scan is suspicious for lymphoma.” My surgeon told me the specific types of lymphoma revealed in my biopsy. Although no one uttered the words You have cancer, the words I have cancer filled my mind for weeks.
You have likely felt dread in the pit of your stomach upon hearing bad news. That is how I felt whenever I thought, I have cancer. But Jesus is more powerful than any disease. Even cancer. The thought that I had cancer took my breath away, so I inhaled peace by replacing that thought with this one: I have Jesus. The power of that beautiful name restores me. Cancer stays in its proper place when I place my trust in Jesus. Today I still have cancer, but one day I will have eternal healing from every disease—and I will still have Jesus.
Pray: Jesus, Your name is above every other name. You are my healer, savior, and friend. One day You will rise with healing in Your wings to destroy the power of every disease. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, and give me all I need to endure until that day. In Your mighty name I pray. Amen.
Embrace: My disease stays in its proper place when I put my trust in Jesus.
Worship: “What a Beautiful Name/Agnus Dei (Medley)” by Travis Cottrell, featuring Lily CottrellTrust the Teacher
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
I taught a spunky visually impaired student named Kelly in my first-grade class. Kelly was new to the school, so she depended on a mobility teacher to help her safely navigate the unfamiliar environment. The teacher took her through the school hallways and gave instructions along the way. Kelly eventually learned that she could trust her teacher to guide her to the places she needed to go.
You may feel unsure and lost when illness alters the landscape of your life. But you are not alone. Jesus is the teacher who guides you. He does not watch from afar as you navigate the difficulties of illness. He knows the way through your challenges and will take you safely through every twist and turn. Your confident trust in the Lord will increase as He guides you; you do not travel through illness alone.
Pray: Dear God, thank You for guiding me and teaching me to navigate difficult paths. You made a way for me to have eternal life, and You make a way through everything I face. Thank You for illuminating the steps I need to take to move forward. Keep my foot from every wrong path; guide me on the way that leads to life. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Embrace: Jesus helps me navigate the difficulties of illness.
Worship: “You Know My Name” by Tasha Cobbs Leonard, featuring Jimi CravityBlessed Opportunities
How can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?
—Romans 10:14, nlt
Earlier this week, I called a friend who had just learned her mother has cancer. I prayed with her and shared scriptures that helped me during my own cancer diagnosis. A repairman in my home overheard our conversation, and when I hung up the phone, he told me that two of his family members were also fighting cancer. His heart was heavy for them. Our conversation easily shifted to spiritual matters, so I shared with him the comforts of faith in Christ. I have met many people who are eager to receive spiritual truth when health issues burden them. Illness is hard to bear, but it opens up blessed opportunities to share gospel hope.
Pray: Lord, may my story be an encouragement to others. Let them witness Your power as You turn weakness into strength and trials into blessings. May even the unexpected disappointments in my life serve as a platform to bring glory to You. Give me the courage and opportunity to tell others the good news of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Embrace: My illness can open up opportunities to tell others about Jesus.
Worship: “Each One, Reach One” by Babbie MasonThe Provider Always Provides
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
God often provides for our needs through other people, but we cannot expect them to meet our every demand during illness. Sometimes we might be overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. Other times we are undone by loneliness and lack. I am humbled when people help me during illness and further humbled when they do not.
When I fully trust God as my provider, I can release others from the burden of meeting the tremendous needs that arise with illness. He often provides in ways I least expect, so I must be open to His plan during this season of my life. I am learning to be flexible and patient. God may be working in the hearts of people around me to teach them how to serve, or He may be training my heart to discern my real needs. Either way, the Provider always supplies what is best.
Pray: Dear God, You are my provider. I will approach Your throne with confidence, and I will approach people with grace and love. When they cannot help me, please enable me to release any offense so that no root of bitterness will grow in my heart. Thank You for all the ways You provide for me. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Embrace: God uses great need to develop greater faith.
Worship: “He’s Always Been Faithful” by Sara GrovesThe Secret Step
I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
Homemade organic chicken broth is a staple in my home. I put freshly diced vegetables and a whole chicken into a pot with clear water. Then I add a handful of parsley, savory herbs, and a few peppercorns. The ingredients are a bouquet of freshness and flavor. But even the best ingredients will produce a cloudy chicken broth if I don’t take an additional step. The secret to creating a clear broth is to carefully skim off the foamy gray substance that accumulates on the simmering surface of the liquid. Could I expect to produce an appealing broth without removing the impurities? Of course not! Yet I become just like that unappetizing broth when I stew in indignation, anger, and bitterness about my health issues without the additional cleansing step of repentance. God uses the fires of affliction to bring my impurities to the surface so that confession and grace can completely skim them away.
Pray: Dear God, help me remember that stewing in anger or bitterness will make the fires of affliction feel unbearable. Chronic illness is a long simmering process; use it to test and transform me. Refresh me during my heated trials. Your strength is the ingredient that enables me to endure. Thank You for loving me enough to make me into a new creation. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Embrace: My afflictions bring impurities to the surface so that confession and grace can completely skim them away.
Worship: “Refiner” by Maverick City Music, featuring Chandler Moore and Steffany GretzingerGetting in Shape
Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.
My children loved to play with modeling clay when they were young. Their tiny hands pounded it until it was pliable. Then they patted it into various flower or seashell molds that I kept just for that purpose. Sometimes they pressed the clay into a mold and forgot about it. When it dried, it remained in the shape of the mold.
Debilitating illness presses hard; it crushes every last vestige of self-reliance and pride out of us. There are times when suffering is so deep that it changes us completely. We become pliable and ready to be molded, for better or worse, by what we cling to during trials. What do you cling to when you are hard-pressed by illness? Let your ailments press you closer to Jesus so you will be shaped and transformed into His beautiful image.
Pray: Dear God, change me into the person You created me to be. My suffering is reshaping me; I am ready to be molded. Teach me how to press into Jesus so I will be transformed into His image. Help me wholeheartedly cling to You during my trials. Amen.
Embrace: I will cling to Jesus so I can be transformed into His image.
Worship: “Close to You (Live)” by Mosaic MSC