Worry. It’s the uninvited guest who kidnaps your concentration and causes your heart to race. It sucks the life out of your days and keeps you up at night.
Friday after Friday, I sit in a hard, uninviting waiting room chair, next to my Dad and trying for the life of me to think of something to do or say that will ease the troubled mind of this man who has been my hero my entire life. But, it’s not just his mind that needs quieting. No, it’s also my own. He’s the patient, but the oncology waiting room can hold us both captive.
We’ve been doing this ill-fated dance with terminal Cancer for 2 ½ years now, and to be honest, my head is starting to spin again. What will the doctor say today? What are the results of Dad’s latest scan? Is the cancer growing again? Will he decide to keep doing the treatments that are sapping the life out of him? Or worse, will he not, because they’re no longer working? Oh God, just please don’t let him cry – I don’t think I can take seeing him cry. And, please oh please, please don’t let me cry. Keep me strong for him, God. I feel like I’m holding my breath and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to truly breathe again. God…I think I’m running out of air.
Tenderly, God reminds me of a well-worn passage,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition,
let your requests be known to God.” – Philippians 4:6
Now, my Bible doesn’t really record the phrase “WITH THANKSGIVING” in bold capital letters. The words are there, just not with the emphasis with which I see them. But, it’s that emphasis that God impresses me with over and over again when I start to rework worry in my head. It’s as if He’s saying, “Start your list, Vickey.” He doesn’t have to say anything else, because I know exactly what He means. It’s a little trick He taught me a few years ago…a prescription, if you will, to quiet my overanxious mind. It might not be FDA approved, but it has shaken me out of my negative preoccupation more than once: I just start saying, “Thank You” to God for every single thing that comes to my mind.
Many of my thank yous are related to my worry, but the gratefulness grows. Thank You, God, for doctors that know more about this than we do. Thank You for Heaven and the promise of a place where there’s no more death and dying, no more cancer and chemo and cells gone cookoo, no more tears and saying good-bye. Thank You that I’ve had a father to love and one that loves me. Thank You that no matter what does or doesn’t happen, You will NEVER leave me. Thank You that I can talk to You about anything at anytime. Thank You for being big enough to handle my questions. Thank You for pain medicine and promises from Scripture…
Amazingly, I find that when I “start my list,” my preoccupation does change – even when my circumstances stay the same. My breathing relaxes and the corners of mouth often even turn up into a smile. Instead of fighting tears of concern, I allow grateful ones to fall because I’m reminded that I have a Heavenly Father who knows my fickle heart better than I do, yet passionately loves me anyway. I’m encouraged by rehearsing His character and promised constancy in my life.
Yeah, I’m not a fan of the waiting room. But, you know what? The Great Physician is in. Every single day from here to eternity. And, what is the promised result when we take our medicine and start giving thanks?
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7
Peace. Blissful, life-altering, hope-filled, breath-inflating peace. Ahhhhh, that’s a cure we could all use. I’m more than willing to take my medicine today. How about you?
What are you prone to worry about?
If you were to start your own “with thanksgiving” list, what would be at the top of it today? Let me know so we can thank God together.