One of my teachers, mentors and friends Angie Shier-Jones has written a powerful post on responding to cancer in the form of a prayer: The Kneeler: Have no Fear.
Angie hits several nails on the head with this one.
I have written a fair bit about cancer over the years. One post that sums up much of my own experience is from August 2004 when I wrote:
cancer. What can you say to a son when he says "Will we ever have good
times again?" at a time like this? 42: Father-in-law has died.
Tonight I watched "The Wheel Heros" a story of the Geoff Thomas
foundation and how Geoff and other cancer survivors rode the whole
route of the 2007 Tour de France staying one day ahead of the race all
the way. It was completely inspirational, as a cyclist myself I know a
little about how impressive their achievement is.
In their response to cancer these cyclists put much of the Church to shame. Angie makes that point clearly, for example:
only on being told that I have cancer that so many of my staunch
Christian friends discover how painfully weak their faith and their
confidence in you is, and how deeply enslaved they are to their fear of
sickness and death.
At times when as a minister I have travelled alongside someone fighting cancer I have been asked how I cope, how does it feel for me? That is a complex question to answer, there are lots of feelings:
- a feeling of honour, of privilege at the way people are willing to allow me to to be part of their journey.
- feelings of anger at the destruction caused by cancer
- feelings of anger at those who claim cancer is sent by God
- feelings of gratitude for all those who dedicate their lives to helping people with cancer
But above all those is the joy when Christians look beyond the cancer and see Jesus, when despite or even through the cancer their faith blossoms and they come to be sure that the healing and wholeness offered by God is true, that it might not include a cure for the cancer but it will certainly last for eternity. Now those are the people who really inspire me, who give me so much more than I can ever repay.
So I am with Angie all the way and echo her messsage "Have no Fear", and that not just for cancer but ewvery part of life and death. This is the start of the theological defeat of cancer, of fear. Thank-you Angie.
Angie also writes:
the gospel all this time, I still haven’t managed to communicate your
message that life is eternal, that we need have no fear – and that life
in all its fullness doesn’t mean a life without pain or sorrow, then I
despair that I will ever succeed in helping to set people free.
At this point it is important to note that Angie was leading the seminars I was attending during the time my parents both died. It was Angie that got me reading Moltmanns "The crucified God". It was Angie's walk alongside me (as well as many others) that encouraged me and helped ensure that fear did not win.
Please read Angie's post and then start contributing to the theological defeat of cancer and to freedom from fear.