A week ago today, I was sitting at work performing a rather mundane task when thoughts of the end of my life and the possibility of great suffering overwhelmed me. My eyes filled with tears, and in order to avoid making a scene, I ran to a friend’s office, shut the door, and broke down weeping.
I hadn’t received any bad news and nothing in my condition had changed. In fact, I was feeling pretty good that day and had had a good weekend. What I had not done, however, was renew my mind earlier in the day when I first began to worry about what my last days, whenever they might be, would bring. It started when I chose to listen to a program on National Public Radio about hospice care, and only worsened as I imagined what would happen if my cancer returned.
Gradually, as the day wore on, I imagined my body deteriorating, my family gathered around me as I took my last breath, and a funeral with lots of mourners. I became discouraged thinking of all the things I hadn’t yet accomplished, and became sad as I thought of my friends telling their grandchildren years from now about a woman they had once known. What if they couldn’t even remember my name? As my thoughts continued spinning out of control, I began to feel regret for my life’s mistakes and eventually to doubt whether the Lord was really good since He was letting this suffering happen to me.
Weeping in my friend’s office was only a small sign of the agony I was feeling in my soul. It had started with a thought, just a small little thought, about the end of my life, and ended with me questioning the very character of God. And this is not the only time I have let me thoughts run away so carelessly in the past month. Surgery and radiation and chemotherapy were difficult, but the battle raging in my mind these past few weeks has been almost as tough.
Thankfully, the Lord has been using His word in an important way in my life during this particularly difficult phase. For every thought of despair and desperation, the Lord has a true message of joy and hope. His word doesn’t promise me a long, easy life on earth, but it does promise me I’ll never be alone. When my heart is filled with fear, Jesus promises peace as the world cannot give. And when the future seems uncertain, God’s word reminds me of a certain future with Him in eternity. God’s word has also been reminding me that worry and anxiety have no benefit; they add nothing to me life and can only rob me of my joy and peace. Instead, Jesus asks me to tell Him of my worries and to trust Him for my needs.
Choosing to renew my mind with truth is hard work. I have to guard what goes into my mind, be disciplined to spend time in prayer and study, and be on the alert for fleeting thoughts that can turn into hours of worry. Some days, I am just too lazy for such vigilance. But slowly, as the Lord gives me strength and I yield to the truth, my mind is being trained for this battle. So many of you have played such a key role in this struggle, too: reminding me of truth and speaking it lovingly to me when I need it.
“The Truth is, the Word of God is alive and powerful; it is medicine for troubled hearts and peace for plagued minds. It is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. Whatever our need, whatever our circumstances, the Word of God is sufficient to meet that need.” –Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free