Nearly three weeks have passed since I received my second esophageal stent. This is another step in a long journey to heal my esophagus from both achalasia (a swallowing disorder) and radiation treatments I received for cancer a few years ago. Doctors inserted the stent to protect an area in need of continued healing. They plan to remove it on November 2.
The stent also makes eating and drinking far easier (Praise the Lord!), but it comes with many challenges. 1) Managing acid reflux. The dietary limits and prohibitions are many: no acidic, greasy, fat, spicy, or citrusy foods. 2) Avoiding anything that could clog up the stent. Nothing fibrous or stringy. No bread, no pizza, nothing sticky, no candy. Meal portions need to be small. Eat several nutritious small meals (snacks) daily. Taking Prilosec 30 minutes before eating in the am and pm. Don’t eat past 8 pm. Sleep with my head and back elevated. Who would think eating could be so difficult? While all of this seems clear, there’s one big problem: me! It’s hard to do what I'm supposed to do. Honestly it’s not what I want to do. Consequently, I sometimes don’t do what I should do and do what I shouldn’t do. I want pizza, hot dogs. sticky buns, spicey food, and fries. And I want seconds. On more than a few occasions I have been found guilty of being “non-compliant”, as my beloved, vigilant wife/nurse calls me. I hate hearing that because I am really trying...most of the time. It’s just super hard. My struggle makes me think of St. Paul’s famous words: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15 NIV). Paul wrote about the fallen human condition, our sinful selves. We want to do, even love to do the right thing; what God wants. In our mind, our conscience, we know what it is. But we don’t have the power. In fact, when we try to keep God’s law, we discover in our flesh another power at work that desires what we want - sin. Trying to do good, we discover how bad we are.
My dietary law and transgressions seem small and insignificant compared to Gods laws: don’t murder, commit adultery, lust, covet, steel, lie, etc. And Jesus’ greatest commandments: love God with everything you’ve got and your neighbor as yourself. The stakes of our compliance or noncompliance in these matters are far more significant. They can be a matter of life and death. Our battles are different, but the enemy is the same.
St. Paul grieved his condition, though he didn’t give us details. Bible translators express his frustration differently. “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? (Romans 7:24, NLT). “I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?” (7:24, MSG). O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (7:24, NKJV)
God does not leave us hanging. Paul answered his question in the next verse. “I give all my thanks to God, for his mighty power has finally provided a way out through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! (Romans 7:25a, TPT). All the power we need Jesus possesses and gives to us. To receive it, we must die to ourselves, put our flesh to death with Jesus, and be born of the Spirit. Bury the old you who tries to do it all by your own strength and you will be raised in Jesus’ power. Keeping my dietary rules is important and challenging. I am going to try harder keep Jesus at the center of this struggle. I admit I can’t do it alone and ask him to help me. I encourage you to do the same. I believe Jesus will give us victor our battles. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).
My book How Cancer Cured Me has been chosen for a monthly Kindle deal for September. The entire month you can purchase my eBook on Amazon for just $0.99! Don't miss this opportunity to read about and help spread the message the hope and healing power of Jesus' Christ!
“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.
For more than a year I have been writing daily devotionals for Cancer Companions’ soon to be released I am one of 13 authors who wrote devotionals for this resource, I have received several copies of a sample booklet that includes one devotional from each author. If you’d like one, let me know, provide your mailing address, and I'll send your one.