Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Psalm When Undergoing Chemotherapy

Read another passage which captured my heart, especially in relation to my cancer battle.  As I read Psalms 88 (New American Standard version), verse after verse reminded me what I experienced while going through chemotherapy.  Consider these poignant verses from what is described as the saddest psalm.  My comments are listed in red beside the verses.

 1 O LORD, the God of my salvation, I have cried out by day and in the night before You.   
2 Let my prayer come before You; Incline Your ear to my cry !
3 For my soul has had enough troubles, And my life has drawn near to Sheol. (Chemotherapy makes you feel like you're dying).
4 I am reckoned among those who go down to the pit ; I have become like a man without strength, (Some chemotherapy agents cause profound fatigue).
5Forsaken among the dead, Like the slain who lie in the grave, Whom You remember no more, And they are cut off from Your hand(You feel abandoned).   
6 You have put me in the lowest pit, In dark places, in the depths. (Chemotherapy takes you as low as a person can possibly go...then it takes you even lower than that).
7 Your wrath has rested upon me, And You have afflicted me with all Your waves. (The effects of chemotherapy are relentless.  Wave after wave of fatigue and nausea).  Selah.  
8 You have removed my acquaintances far from me; You have made me an object of loathing to them; I am shut up and cannot go out.  (With chemotherapy, routine actions of life are difficult, e.g. going to church or work because you feel SO bad).
9 My eye has wasted away because of affliction ; I have called upon You every day, O LORD ; I have spread out my hands to You.  (I am desperate).
10 Will You perform wonders for the dead ? Will the departed spirits rise and praise You? (In other words, God, do you want to leave me this way?  What good am I in this present pitiful state?) Selah.  
11 Will Your lovingkindness be declared in the grave, Your faithfulness in Abaddon ?  
12 Will Your wonders be made known in the darkness ? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness (How can I praise You if I'm dead?). 
13 But I, O LORD, have cried out to You for help, And in the morning my prayer comes before You.  
14 O LORD, why do You reject my soul ? Why do You hide Your face from me?  
15 I was afflicted and about to die from my youth on; I suffer Your terrors ; I am overcome.  
16 Your burning anger has passed over me; Your terrors have destroyed me.  (Chemotherapy wreaks havoc on the body).
17 They have surrounded me like water all day long; They have encompassed me altogether.  
18 You have removed lover and friend far from me; My acquaintances are in darkness.  (It may be difficult for friends and family to deal with a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy.  Many hospitalizations.  Frequent doctors' visits.).  

Notice the psalm ends on a sad note.  How true!  Sometimes situations in life end in sorrow.  Sad endings occur in abundance.  As people of faith, we must believe, we have to believe, that there is a God of love who allows such things.  Otherwise, life makes no sense whatsoever. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Prayer For The Dying

It's amazing how many verses in the Bible have come alive since I had cancer.  For example, I became familiar with Psalms 118:17 while I was undergoing chemotherapy in 2006.  It states, "I shall not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord".  What a great encouragement for those undergoing cancer or any other major illness.  As a matter of fact, I now wear this verse on a bracelet wherever I go.  It has become my life verse.  It's a verse which proclaims that God had a purpose in my healing from Stage 3 bladder cancer, even though my oncologist felt my chances of surviving were fifteen to twenty percent.

Found another great verse the other day.  Psalms 79:11 says "Let the groaning of the prisoner come before Thee; according to the greatness of Thy power preserve those who are doomed to die."  What captured my attention was the last phrase, "preserve those who are doomed to die."  It appears to be speaking to prisoners, especially those in the dungeons who have no hope of release.  Perhaps they are scheduled for execution.  Yet, the psalmist asks God to change the circumstances of those with no hope. 

For many people who are diagnosed with cancer, chances of recovery, as occurred in my life, are limited.  The doctor may state that the treatments may only provide temporary relief, not ultimately remove the cancer.  In relation to this, I believe the oncologist told my mother when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer years ago that his purpose was to "extend her life", not cure her.  In other words, it was hopeless.

Yet, my prayer today for anyone experiencing cancer is exactly what the psalmist said, that God would "preserve those who are doomed to die".  Although I can't understand God's ways in many situations, especially in the lives of those suffering with cancer, sometimes He does choose to heal in accordance with His plan. 

Furthermore, if He does preserve some one's life out of the dungeon of cancer, perhaps they, too, will one day be able to proclaim the truth of Psalms 118:17, "I shall not die, but live, and tell of the works of the Lord".