Thursday, June 27, 2013

Psalm 3

From the New Living Translation

O Lord, I have so many enemies;
    so many are against me.
So many are saying,
    “God will never rescue him!”
 But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
    you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
I cried out to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy mountain. 
I lay down and slept,
    yet I woke up in safety,
    for the Lord was watching over me.
I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies
    who surround me on every side.
Arise, O Lord!
    Rescue me, my God!
Slap all my enemies in the face!
    Shatter the teeth of the wicked!
 Victory comes from you, O Lord.
    May you bless your people. 

Melanoma, and all cancers and other diseases, have many, many minions...other enemies to us...that come with them. Some are fairly prompt to arrive on the scene, while others drift in in no particular order. Indeed, these other forces of hostility hit some of us hard and leave others of us alone. Fear and anxiety are common allies of melanoma. There's also depression, financial uncertainty/ruin, breakdown of relationships, lack of understanding, job loss, insurance loss, all the side effects that can come from treatments. I'm sure you can add to the list as it is certainly not an exhaustive one.

And then there are the people who tell us we're fine, this will all work out, it's just skin cancer, get over it, have more faith, you're just not praying hard enough, this is God's will, you asked for it, we all have to die from something. Worse are the people who say this is proof God doesn't exist so why bother praying and clinging to faith...they can't help you and neither can this God you believe in, you're looking for rescue in all the wrong places. 

Sometimes these voices can raise levels of doubt in us to where we can begin to doubt God's existence and love ourselves. Melanoma can really do a work on us. Big time!

But notice David doesn't let these people get to him! He knows better! David has used a shield before. Many times in battle. He knows its value in protecting him. But he's not relying on a hunk of metal. No! He's relying on the Living God as his shield from his enemies. A piece of metal can only do so much. God is limitless! A man-made shield can't lift us up or empower us to hold our heads up when life wants to drag them down. The things we place around ourselves to help us cope and feel safe can't do that either. Only God can. 

Notice how David "cries out to the LORD." He doesn't say meek, mild prayers. This grown man, mighty warrior, King, cries out to God! We don't "cry out" when things are going good and in our favor. David is in a bad place. He's got very real enemies seeking to do him very real harm. And he cries out to God. Probably over and over. That would be normal as those times when we cry out don't suddenly dissipate after one good crying out session.

And he is confident God hears him. He sleeps soundly. God is on His holy mountain so David can know peace in his soul and in his rest even when his life appears to be in danger and in chaos. God is in control and with David. That's enough for David. He may be surrounded by 10,000 literal enemies, but he is safe because God is with him.

I love the image of God slapping our enemies. I love imagining the look on the Beast's face as God whacks him across his ugly hide and sends him away for good. (Side note: For those who don't reside in melanomaland, "the beast" is how we often refer to melanoma).

We often read verses about God protecting His people from their enemies and keeping them save and nothing hurting them, and we automatically think about our physical bodies and safety. And then we look at ourselves and at others and see their bodies wasting away or injuries and we doubt and question.

We're part of this fallen world, you know. Jesus is clear that the sun shines and the rain pours on the good and the bad, and He also reminds us that only God is good. Bad things will happen to our bodies. Oh, sometimes God does step in and protect them, no doubt. But when He doesn't, it doesn't mean that His promises fail. Often it means we're looking at the promise only one way. In our imperfect way. 

Sometimes I think we're more concerned about what's happening to our bodies than we are our souls. And that's certainly understandable...to an extent. Our physical bodies feel the pain, endure the surgeries and treatments, and bear the scars. But our hearts and souls do too.

YES, God is dealing with our total package, bodies included. YES, miracles happen everyday. 

But our enemies won't know God's final victory over them until the end. It's coming. He promises and we get glimpses of that promise-fulfillment all the time if we but open our eyes and look around. In the meantime, we need to try and wrap our minds around the fact that our bodies will succumb to something. Maybe melanoma, maybe not. But that doesn't make us losers. That makes us human. Mortal. We may be helpless and can't stop death, but we aren't hopeless! 

Though we die, yet shall we live. That is the hope and that is the promise and not a one of our very real enemies, not even something as vicious as melanoma...can stop it.

"Arise, O Lord!
    Rescue me, my God!"

In this life and in the life everlasting. Amen and Amen!

charis