Do upcoming events keep you up at night? Does waiting for test results and answers make you feel sick. You may be going through something now that has you catastrophizing. The world provides a daily supply of reasons to worry. Jesus offers the way to a worry-free life.
I will always remember meeting Dr. Richard Lischer a few months after my cancer diagnosis. Dr. Lischer is a renowned Professor at Duke Divinity School, my alma mater. He was being treated for pancreatic cancer at the time. We happened to be attending the same church conference when we ran into each other.
Dr. Lischer shared the latest on his health journey and then asked about mine. I told him about my CT and MRI scans and Oncology appointment the upcoming week.
“I’m a really stressed about it, worried, anxious...” I told him. As I struggled to find the words, he smiled compassionately.
“Oh yes,” he said, with a look both understanding and whimsical, “’Scanxiety’. I know exactly what you’re feeling.”
That was the first time I'd ever heard "scanxiety," but the word said it all. Scans are a routine part of a cancer patient’s life and can be very worrisome. What are they going to find? Is the cancer gone? Has it grown larger? Lying alone on your back in a metal tube for a 30-minute-long MRI, or longer, listening to alien-like knocking and buzzing sounds provides a great opportunity for catastrophizing.
I’ll be at Duke Cancer Clinic this coming Tuesday for my now every-four-month-scans. It’s gotten easier, but it’s still hard, and I still have some scanxiety. I hope the soreness in my side is just muscle ache and the spot on my brain noted by the radiologist at my last scan is nothing of concern.
Jesus’ teaching on worry helps me and challenges me (see Matthew 6:25-34). Jesus taught his disciples, ““Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” (6:25)
Don’t worry about your life, about your body?!?! As crazy and impossible as that sounds, I can also here Jesus saying to me: Don’t worry about MRIs, CT scans, chemotherapy, radiation, doctor’s appointments. In fact, don’t worry about cancer at all! What do you hear?
Most of us would agree – faith or no faith – worrying doesn’t change anything. Worry will no more change the results of your scans or anything else than it will add a day to your life. Cracking your knuckles will only give you arthritis. Gee, thanks Captain Obvious!
In a devotion I read recently, Nicky Gumble offered wonderful and undeniably true encouragement: “live in day-tight compartments.” He also said, “Commit today not to worry about tomorrow.”
But how can you possibly not worry? The key is to remember that you are a beloved child of God. Jesus assures you that your Heavenly Father knows your needs. What you want and what you need may not be the same. God’s timing may be different from yours, too. But God knows what you need and will provide for you.
Look at the birds (v26-27) and the flowers (v28-30), says Jesus, they don’t want for anything. They are “careless in the care of God” (v26, The Message). God gives them all they need and clothes them in beauty. You are worth so much more than flowers and birds.! You can be confident God will take even better care of you! You can be “careless in the care of God!”
Jesus offers an alternative to worrying. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things (all that we need) will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33, ESV). I love the Message’s rendition, which helps us understand what Jesus is inviting us to do.
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (Matthew 6:33-34, The Message).
For further reflection, check out Philippians 4:6-7, NIV and 1 John 4:18, NIV. For a moment of worship, listen to this song from Housefires.