Revised: Peace and Contentment in Place of Fear and Anxiety
On Friday May 13th, I posted this most important blog. However, when I received the e mail version by subscription, I saw it was impossible to read. Therefore, I am re-sending it hopeful that it can be read as an e mail as well as on the website. I apologize as I am not very proficient with the WordPress technology.
The word “prostate cancer” evokes anxiety and often fear in every man with whom I have ever spoken. “Is my PSA value normal?” “Do I need a prostate biopsy?” If cancer is detected, what can be done to rid me of it?” “If I have metastatic cancer, what is my life expectancy?” All these questions are understandable. Life is filled with uncertainties. In addition, there are the “what if” questions. “What if I undergo a specific treatment, will it cure me or will there be undesirable side effects?” Sometimes we don’t even need a current stressful situation in order to worry. We can borrow from the future and carry anxiety for what may or may never happen. Personally, I have often found myself conceiving the worst possible scenario figuring any actual result could only be better. Prostate cancer can evolve into a lifestyle of anxiety. It can become a constant companion, hovering over us like a cloud, stealing any peace, contentment or joy of life.As Christians, this is not what God desires for His children and He has made every provision for us to live in contentment and peace. The apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:11 that he learned to be content in whatever circumstance he was facing even death and that the power to do so came through Christ who strengthened him. If we have a personal relationship with God through Christ, our confidence is also found in Him and we will not be swayed by our circumstances. True contentment is based on a Person, and not what’s going on around us.
Many people feel that prayer is the solution because Paul tells us to pray about everything and not be anxious about anything. While such prayers are good, we may simply want God to solve the problem without digging up its root. However, if we know the source of our anxiety, we can actually discover the key to overcoming it.
Dr. Charles Stanley, a well-known pastor and author, identifies three roots of anxiety that feed into our worry. The first root is fear and the key to overcoming it is faith in God’s Word. Fear might be the dread of our current situation or what could happen in the future. “Will my cancer be cured or what happens if it comes back?” The problem is our focus and God’s Word has been written that we may have hope. On more than one occasion, Christ’s disciples were faced with an impossible situation such as feeding 5,000 men not counting women and children with a five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus’ answer to them and to us is the same; “with people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). The Word of God is filled with examples, promises, commandments, and principles that reveal our Lord is bigger than any problem we may encounter.
The second root of anxiety is doubt and the key to contentment is trust in God’s ways. We may know in our mind that God is capable of dealing with our need but we are not sure if He will do it. We may acknowledge His limitless power, yet He doesn’t seem to be doing anything to change our current situation. We would readily trust Him if He’d jump the first time we called and did exactly as we asked or hoped. But He’s the one in control, not us. True contentment comes when we are willing and able to lay our burden at His feet, trusting in His plans and perfect timing. Proverbs 3:5-6 states we are to “trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not to our own understanding. In all our ways, we are to acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths.” After all, God loves us more than we know.
The third root of anxiety is control, and the key to overcoming it is surrender to God’s will and plan. When circumstances are going well, there is a calm sense of security. A surgeon may tell you, “we got all the cancer and you can consider yourself cured”. In fact, my cancer was found so early that I was told “if we can’t cure you, we can’t cure anyone”. I felt secure and confident till it came back eight years later. In cases like this, the balance is upset and we feel out of control. In reality, we were never in charge of our body. Psalm 103:9 says “the Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all.” That includes all the details of our lives. When we know the Lord and trust in His goodness and love, surrendering to His will and letting go of our desire to control, then we will experience the contentment that comes with knowing we are safely held in His hands, no matter what conditions rage around us. Like a child being led by a loving parent crossing a dangerous street, our security is not simply dependent on our holding God’s hands, it rests in the fact that He is holding ours.
Peace and contentment can become a reality in your life even as you face prostate cancer. It has nothing to do with circumstances and everything to do with God Himself. In the midst of storms, His peace is like a shelter around you, guarding your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). Nothing comes your way without His permission, and if He’s allowed something difficult, you can be sure that He will use it to strengthen your faith and build your character. God desires to give you peace in every circumstance.
The message above is applicable to anyone whose life is based on experiencing a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. If you are not sure of your own personal relationship with Him, consider making such a decision. God truly loves each one of us and has a unique plan for our lives. But we are all sinful beings and none of us match up to God’s character and requirements of true holiness. We have all violated His laws at one time or another. Therefore a penalty has to be paid to satisfy God’s character as a just and impartial judge. God’s Son, Jesus came to this earth to do just that, namely give His life as an payment for the sins of each one of us. By placing our faith in Christ’s sacrifice alone and not our own works, God’s requirement is fulfilled and He then sees us as righteous, forgiven and justified through the filter of Christ’s death on a cross. God’s spirit then comes to live within each of us as our divine guide and “helper”. Through Christ’s resurrection from the dead, we are also given the gift of eternal life in a new heaven and a new earth with a new perfect cancer-free body. So if you have never done so, please consider placing your faith in Christ alone and submitting your life to the plans the Creator Himself has formulated. Then the promises in God’s Word as described above become your very own.