Cancer strikes fear in the hearts of men and women. There's a lot to be afraid of - sideffects from medication, having access to care, overwhelming costs, and death just to name a few. Our fears can cause us to respond in counterproductive ways - taking flight and not dealing with the disease, fighting too hard, or becoming frozen in innaction. Worse, fear can make you feel far from God. Knowing how to manage your fear is essential.
After my cancer diagnosis in September of 2017, I felt all of these fears and more. I had never been so afraid in my life. One of the worst fears was the fear of missing out ("FOMO" as my kids called it), not being their for my children's lives, the best years still ahead with my wife, and all the things I still wanted and needed to do.
More than once my FOMO almost caused me to miss out on the opportunities I feared I'd miss out on, but for now could still be part of! So worried about dying, I nearly missed out on living!
In my book How Cancer Cured Me, I wrote about a good friend, Jean, a wise, spiritual mother, who gave me an envelope filled with 3 x 5 index cards on the day I was diagnosed. She had written on each card a Bible verse about faith overcoming fear. She called them "Fear Chasers," and encouraged me to read one whenever I felt afraid.
Even as a Pastor, I needed that encouragement to keep my faith and not succumb to fear. I also appreciated the reminder of the power of Scripture to build our faith and cast out our fears. My hour-long morning devotional time of reading scripture and praying became even more precious to me. I wanted as much time as possible, but even a minute or two of reading God's word helped bolster my courage.
I still recall sitting in the waiting room at the hospital waiting to have my bronchoscopy, a biopsy procedure that would send a small camera and snippers down my throat to my lungs to get a piece of my tumor. As I sat in the waiting room, I read over and over the Fear Chasers words. Once I was on the gurney in the prepping area, just before the anestioligist put me to sleep, I read the words one more time and felt great peace.
Each time I have turned to scripture in my cancer journey, whether at home or at the hospital, lying on the table for the CT scan or an MRI, sitting in my oncologists office waiting to hear my scan results or at home, filling my prescription or my coffee cup, the words of Scripture have always helped chase away the fears.
Here are a few a my favorite Fear-chaser verses, pulled from the many Jean gave me.
-"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
-God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear..."Psalm 46:1-2a
-There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear... 1 John 4:18
- ...with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26
...when I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3
Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
Let me encourage you to write one of these down on an index card, on a post-it note, or into you phone, and keep it handy. Take any other verse you know - or find - that helps you keep your faith, and create your own arsenal of Fear Chasers.
Question: How do you chase away your cancer fears? Do you have a way of turning to Scripture? Do you have a verse you have found to be especially powerful? Please share!