Updated: Oct 15
Change is a part of life. Everything and everyone changes. It’s inevitable, unavoidable, and unstoppable. Traumatic events can force big, scary changes, and small changes can throw us for a loop. But changes can also be inspiring and beautiful.
Cancer has forced and invited many changes in my life, big and small. For 2 years, I've been dealing with Achalasia, a swallowing disorder caused by radiation to cancer on my esophagus. This "survivorship issue" has changed how I eat and what what I eat. On November 2 doctors will remove the stent that's been helping my esophagus heal and holding it open so that food and liquid can get to my stomach. I will find out find out if these changes are permanent or things improve. Prayers please.
The most recent cancer change is a new oncologist. My beloved oncologist, Dr. Jeff Crawford, who has cared for me since my cancer diagnosis in 2017, retired this year. My care has been transferred to a new oncologist. He comes highly recommended by his predecessor, but still this forces a big change for me and Amy. They won’t know me or my history as well. Will I like them? Will they like me? Be responsive and caring? Will they continue my current treatment, or change it, and mess it up?
Change can be painful and bad. It can also be good and healing. I can honestly say that despite the losses cancer has inflicted on me and my family, we have received a lot of good. To be clear, no good is to be credited to cancer. Cancer is bad. Anything good coming from this disease is credited to God alone. He alone can work all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). Change can be an opportunity to be redeemed, maybe even rescued. Painful changes and difficult times can be the most powerful and transformative.
“Change” and “newness” appear often in the bible: a new land, new covenant, new kings, new commandments, new promises, new mercies and compassion every day, new life abundant and eternal, and in the end a new heaven and earth. Seated on his throne, Jesus will proclaim, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5).
To be a Christian is to commit to a life of change. Jesus calls us to repent, which means to change our mind, heart, the direction of our lives, and follow him. Jesus inspires, teaches, and demands change. We welcome the Holy Spirit, the ultimate change agent, to enter our lives and make us like Jesus. That transformation will involve unending, often difficult, change. So much in us needs to change. Yet the bible promises us it will happen.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV).
Not all change is created equal. Changing from one great doc to another is easy in comparison to many other changes. Changing from something good to something bad, or not nearly as good, or entering into the unknown is much harder. Losing your job, the death of a spouse or child, divorce, leaving home and moving to a new place, being diagnosed with a disease - these types of changes can turn your world upside down.
Ironically. changing from something bad (hurtful, destructive, etc.) to something good can be the the hardest change of all. God’s people, the Israelites, struggled to transition from being exiles taken to a foreign land against their will to finally coming home seventy years later. Lives destroyed, homes and wounds inflicted, losses suffered left painful memories, bitterness, and sorrow. Hope nearly extinguished, faith in God diminished, doubts growing, and hard feelings made homecoming hard to believe and celebrate.
In this context, God spoke to his people through the prophet. ““Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:18-19, NIV)
Forgetting doesn't mean pretending the former things didn’t happen, matter, or hurt you. God is saying something like this: "I'm doing something new in your life right now. Let go of the past, loosen your grip on it, so you can receive the new things." With common sense and the Holy Spirit, we discern what we need to let go of and what to take with us. We can’t perceive, see, or receive God's new thing until we turn from the past and look for it.
As Christians, we should be the most optimistic and resilient when facing change of any kind. If my cancer care and condition make a turn for the worse, Jesus will be there to help me. Plus my new doctor may have new ways and new thoughts and make new discoveries that could lead to a more permanent cancer cure.
We are all going through different kinds of changes. Whatever yours may be, however difficult, complicated, or unspeakable, these truths are constant. Jesus loves you, is with you always, for you, and can do all things. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8, NIV). Believe in him and you will see the good and glorious work he is doing in your life.
“Daily Reflections from Inside the Cancer Journey, a collection of 365 Daily devotionals” will launch January 1, 2024 as a daily text or email anyone can sign up to receive and a searchable online collection of all 365 devotions.
A selection of devotionals and more information can be found here. I have received several copies of a sample booklet that includes one devotional from each author. If you’d like one, let me know, and I'll send you one.