The stories of doomsayers and naysayers will not give us hope. Neither will Negative Nancy’s narrative or Pollyanna’s positive spin. We need more than the brutal truth or lies. When cancer or some other crisis comes, we need stories that connect us with God and give us hope. We need sacred stories. The Power of Sacred Stories
After my cancer diagnosis, there were times when I felt sorry for myself. More than once I wondered, Why me? What or who is to blame?
That whole line of questioning made me feel sad and sorry for myself, frustrated and angry, and like a powerless, hopeless victim.
I happened upon a familiar Bible story (John 9:1-12). Jesus and his disciples encounter a man born blind. They ask him why the man had been born blind. Whose is to blame? It was the same question I had been asking myself. Jesus answers, “No one is to blame. This happened so that the works of god might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:3)
To say the words spoke to me would be a gross understatement. They were like the electric shock paddles bringing the patient who “coded” in the ER back to life.
In a moment, my cancer had a high and holy purpose. Cancer happened so the works of God could be displayed in my life.
With that revelation, I could see God working for my good and His glory in every detail. From the bandages to billing, scans to chemo, in every aspect, I experience God’s presence and power. I felt close and connected to Christ.
The story didn’t end with Jesus’ “why bad things happen to good people” speech. He restored the man’s sight…fully…before their very eyes. This sacred story transformed my cancer experience and my life…forever. It continues to give my existence purpose and hope.
Discovering Your Sacred Stories
We all need sacred stories, the more the better. If you’re looking for some, here are a few sources.
The Bible is full of sacred stories. The very act of creation, the Israelite’s Exodus from Egypt; Christ’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection, and many more. All the stories of Jesus, his healing and miracles, as recorded in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
Read and reflect on the account of Jesus and Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). Imagine yourself as Peter, stepping out of the boat, onto the waters, and walking with Jesus. See the waters as the challenges you’re facing? Hear Jesus’ call to faith.
Find yourself in the valley of dry bones, hearing the word of the Lord calling you back to life (Ezekiel 37:1-14). Imagine yourself as Lazarus dead in the tomb, being awakened and called back to life by the voice of Jesus (John 11:1-44).
Picture yourself as the woman bleeding and crawling to Christ, with faith in the healing that he can and does provide (Luke 8:43-48). Each story has the power to connect you with Jesus Christ and enable you to experience God. If there’s one that made you feel close and connected with Christ, go back to it often. If not, read the Bible, search the Scriptures, until you find the sacred verses and stories that give you hope.
2. Your stories
Can you recall a time you experienced God, felt close and connected to Christ, or had a holy hunch that you might just be in the presence of the Divine?
Has there been a time when God provided for your needs, guided you through a difficult
situation, strengthened you in a difficult situation, saved your skin, or anything at all? These are your sacred stories to remember and will give you hope. The first summer after my diagnosis, my family needed a vacation more than ever. Sadly, we couldn’t afford one. A parishioner, moved by the love of Jesus, gave us a week at her beautiful, beach front home.
Whenever I’m in need and tempted to go “Chicken little,” I try to remember Julie’s generosity and the similiar kindness of many other people God has used to bless me. These sacred stories of God providing encourage me to believe God will again provide.
3. The Stories of Others
In church-speak, we call these testimonies. We give one another an opportunity to be a witness and testify to how they have seen God at work. When you hear how someone faced their great challenges with even greater courage, it’s hard not to be inspired. Moreover, you will likely find yourself feeling braver and more fearless and living more courageously. Tune in to a church where stories of faith are told. Seek out the messages of people going through what you’re going through. The Bible reminds us that we gather in part so that “you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith” (Romans 1:12, NIV).
4. Writing New Stories
I like to think that to large extent you and I get to write our story. We have the freedom and
ability to determine what kind of story ours will be.
The Bible tells us that we are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Jesus is the
“author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Our stories begin and end with him. I can do all things through him (Philippians 4:13). Anything is possible.
Will your story be a story of tragedy or victory? Who will be your hero? What do you want to accomplish? How do you want it to end? Dare to dream and be hopeful.
I love Big Daddy Weave’s song “My Story.” Click here to take a listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TKAN-nAsu8 Take a listen. Share one of your sacred stories with me.