Friday, September 21, 2012

People Are Watching You

When I was going though cancer treatment, I became familiar with some books by Dr. Bernie Siegel, a physician who has worked extensively with cancer patients.    One of his books, "Peace, Love & Healing", has a great quote about disease being an agent of transformation. Listen to the richness of this statement:

"Disease is surely one of the ways we are tried by life and offered the chance to be heroic.  Though few of us will win Olympic medals or slay dragons, disease can be the spark or gift that allows many of us to live out our personal myths and become heroes".  (p. 197).

In other words, a person may not accomplish anything above the mundane in life, that is, win medals or slay dragons.  But yet, in a strange way, having an illness, whether it be cancer or another malady, provides an opportunity for a person to become a hero.  I've certainly discovered this to be true in my own life.  Although I fail in so many ways, I still am approached by people in church years after my cancer battle who tell me what an encouragement I was to them when I was in the darkest moments of my sickness.  Hey, I wasn't trying to be a hero.  I was just trying to survive.

Reminds me of the account of Paul and Silas in Acts 16.  As you may recall, they were thrown into a Philippian jail after publicly renouncing a girl with a spirit of divination.  After being arrested, they were beaten with rods and thrown into prison.  Their feet were placed in stocks.  How did these early missionaries deal with their situation?  Acts 16:25 records how "...about midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God and the prisoners were listening to them (italics mine)."

Although it is unfathomable to think of the immoral punishment inflicted upon Paul and Silas, it did have a good result in that the prisoners were listening to them.  Brought to mind how whenever a person goes through hardship such as illness, there are others watching to see how one will respond.  Believe it or not, the dungeon of cancer may be the divine instrument in life to propel a person to stardom.  Who are the fans?  Why, it's simply the other prisoners in life who happen to be listening.    

1 comment:

  1. Reading this post reminded me of something I had read some few years ago:

    "In our approach to life, patience also helps us to realize that while we may be ready to move on, having had enough of a particular learning experience, our continued presence is often needed as a part of the learning environment of others." (Neal A. Maxwell, "Patience", BYU Devotional 1979)

    As you fought your battle with cancer and its accompanying nausea, there were relatively few who were aware of what you were going through. Surely that is the case not only in quiet hospital rooms, but in the lonely or grief-stricken hearts of people all around us. More than we know, people are yearning for resolve and relief, steadiness and strength, hope, and help.

    People are watching, and when they catch sight of another's determination and patience, it bolsters their own faith and lends them the courage to face their own challenges.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. Although I have not suffered the debilitating effects of cancer, I am encouraged by seeing how you were able to not only overcome that deadly disease, but also to see how you grew and became better because of it.