Tonight was "Chick Night" at my church. Once a month, about 200-300 women gather together at church and "take over". Once, Sara Groves came as a speaker and we were packed out with over 700 women. I always look forward to this meeting. There's just something special about a bunch of women gathering together to sing, pray and worship God as well as lend support to each other. Yes, a few (very few) men are permitted to enter this domain but we make them wear pink T-shirts that say Chick Night.
Tonight was different, however. I didn't want to go. It had been difficult week for me. My surgery was finally set for the end of the month but the waiting game had gotten to me. This week I just felt plain old anger. I wasn't angry at anyone. I was just angry at waiting and the knowledge that this is a part of the "normal process" and I was going through a stage just seemed to fuel my anger. I was just sick and tired of everything and wanted to move on. I'd read that cancer patients usually can't psychologically tolerate more than three weeks between diagnosis and surgery. Guess what, I think the statistics are correct. Unfortunately due to a delay and the holidays, it will be seven weeks between my official diagnosis and the surgery (nine from when they first told me it probably was cancer).
So, with dragging feet, I shoved aside all of the excuses and headed out the door. I didn't regret it. There is just something about getting together with other believers. Afterwards, we had a time of prayer. I approached a couple of women on the prayer team. As I started to request prayer in regards to my situation, one of the women looked at me and said "And you're feeling really angry right now about the whole situation." I agreed. I was. I wan't angry at anyone. I was just angry about the situation. I shared that things had been tough up in my head lately. I told them that yesterday, while my husband was out, I raged and raged. I even tried to rage at God about being what I perceived to be silent. However, different words had spilled out of my mouth. Instead of saying what I intended to say, I said "And all you're doing is listening to me!" and then the Holy Spirit softly said "Isn't that what you need right now?"
As I related this, the three of us laughed. It was very apparent that God has not been silent. He's been listening to me all along because that was exactly what I need. It's hard to be completely open with family and friends. You don't want to make them feel anymore pain or helplessness. On the other hand, I can be completely free with expressing myself to God.
I suddenly found myself clinging to these two sisters and they began to pray. One leaned over and said "This is God embracing you right now. Don't forget that."
The tears flowed and I felt the cloud that was trying to stifle me lift. Peace settled upon me as God used these sisters to remind me that I was not alone or forgotten. God saw everything and he deeply cares.
Afterwards, I got to thinking about the strength I received from other members of the Body of Christ. I know there are a lot of people who have been hurt by individuals who claim to be a part of the Body of Christ. That grieves me very much. Many of them, as a result of their hurts, have physically pulled away from the Body of Christ and I think that hurts them as well.25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 11:25
We are admonished to have fellowship with other followers of Jesus. It is very important. It certainly does not take the place of communing with God by any means, however God made us to be social beings and it is his desire that we minister to one another. We are often the instruments he chooses to use to provide encouragement, support, help, hugs, etc. to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
So often, we try to make a go at it on our own. It's us and God and no one else. Please don't misunderstand me. I am not trying in anyway to diminish God. Yes, he is our strength and our all in all. He is more than enough for everything we need. However, I think that sometimes we thrust aside the support he is trying to offer us through others. God understands our need to be touched, hear words of encouragement, and to feel loved and accepted by those around us. He made us that way.
I know that so often God has worked through individuals to minister to me. I don't know where I'd be if I didn't have that sort of support. It's interesting that as a cancer patient, one of the things I was encouraged to do was try to get a support network in place. It is so important that you're even provided with contact information of a number of networks you can join. They don't want anyone to try to do this on their own.
I think this needs to be true of us as Christ-Followers. God does not intend for us to do this on our own. He has provided a network of brothers and sisters in Christ who are willing to raise up our arms when we can't raise them. They're willing to cry with you, laugh with you and hug you.
I'd like to thank all of the incredible brothers and sisters in Christ who have prayed for me and given me their support and encouragement. There is no one like you! I'd also like to encourage those who feel that they are alone to ask God to help them find a network of true Christ-Followers. He will help you find men and women who are after God's own heart. All you have to do is ask.
*8/18/11--This blog is now part of a series entitled Walking With God In The Midst of Cancer