“Run. Bolt before he dies and leaves you heartbroken.” That’s what a friend said when I told her about the cancer-surviving man I had met in the elevator.
Just days before this conversation, this man and I had become Facebook friends. While scrolling through his profile pictures, I paused — I saw a white sash draped over his shoulder. Not any white sash, but one that read “survivor.” That cute boy I met in the elevator had survived cancer.
Maybe I should run now while I have the chance.
In my brain, the word survivor created feelings of fear and uncertainty, not happiness and celebration. He survived cancer! I should be celebrating his life by praising God. But instead of praise, thoughts of death plagued my mind.
I must admit, it took years for my celebrating to start. From the title of this post, you already know I never bolted like my friend suggested. And I thank God I never listened to that advice.
But I do still have fears: What if my husband’s cancer comes back? What if my husband dies? In these moments, my faith becomes pivotal, and I take two steps to live in freedom: turn to God’s Word and pray.
What God’s Word Says About Fear
During moments of fear, I turn to Scripture to remind me of God’s truth. God tells us not to fear the future, but rather to entrust our future to Him. In a time of fear, David wrote about God’s loving protection: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
God’s Word reminds us not to fear death. As believers, we can have hope because Jesus abolished death and brought life through His death on the cross. We can praise God for victory over death! “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).
I still fear the return of my husband’s cancer, but I have confidence that when he dies he will be united with Jesus. Recently my husband had the gift of sharing his story at a Cycle for Survival event, a fundraiser for rare cancers. In his speech, he shared his reaction to finding out he might die during surgery, “I wasn’t afraid. I had peace … and that’s because I knew where I was going if I died … because I believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and because of that, I know my eternal destination.”
The Power of Prayer
When overwhelmed with fear and pain that seems unending, I pray like Jeremiah did. He longed for healing and comfort. In a season of loss, he cried out, “Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” (Jeremiah 15:18).
Cry out to God. He listens to our prayers. He cares about our hurt and replies with comfort.
In times of fear, pray this prayer with me:
My life is yours, not mine. Help me trust you. Help me believe that your plans are better than anything my mind could ever create. I’m sorry I don’t trust you. As your child, you have given me everything. Help me believe in your goodness. God, sometimes fear takes over my mind. Take away my fears and fill my mind with the truth of your word. I know that my fears show my doubt and unbelief. They show that I don’t believe you are 100 percent faithful and powerful. God, give me peace. Sing it over me. I love you. Help me love you more and more each day.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Joy Pedrow Skarka loves creating spaces to bring women freedom. A doctoral student at Dallas Theological Seminary, she is studying women’s ministry, sexuality and shame. You can see more of her work at joypedrow.com or tweet at her @JoyPedrow.