Coronavirus and Cancer
In unstable times, we all need the gift of peace now more than ever.
By Chris Lawrence
Perhaps you or someone you love is fighting cancer, and the coronavirus (COVID-19) just adds insult to injury. Life was already challenging enough; this illness just increases the fear and uncertainty.
Even as America and much of the world has cautiously returned to normal—or a least a new normal—the fear and uncertainty of the coronavirus remains. Will there be a second wave of the virus? Or will the cases continue to decrease? How can people with cancer live life as normally as possible, while still being careful?
One of your biggest concerns is that a compromised immune system increases the risk of getting coronavirus. The common result of undergoing treatment, especially chemotherapy, is that it reduces red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, which diminishes the capacity to fight infection. This reduced capacity can remain for months after treatment is finished.
The cancer treatment dilemma
Another problem is not having the luxury of just stopping treatment. Though many habits of meetings and commerce have changed as a result of coronavirus, you often still need regular medical care, like infusions. These appointments often require trips to a medical facility, thereby increasing your risk of exposure.
The coronavirus also raises the fear about the capacity of our medical system. If a second wave does come, one even bigger than the first, then it could possibly tax our healthcare resources, perhaps leaving you wondering if the care you or your loved one needs will be available.
The circumstances increase the uncertainty for people like you who were already facing uncertainties.
Yet, even as fear ramps up, what if there is a gift of peace that we can experience in the midst of it? What if peace was actually what you needed most, the answer to whatever problems threaten you today, tomorrow or in the coming weeks?
A CANCER SURVIVOR’S STORY OF PEACE.
“Ironically…I have probably never felt more peaceful than at that time.”
This is what Burkitt’s Lymphoma survivor Doug said about lying sick in a hospital bed, not knowing if he would live or die within the next few hours, as he faced an incredibly fast-growing cancer.
This type of peace, though seemingly hard to fathom, gave Doug comfort for what lay ahead. “I knew that no matter how things turned out, I was in a sense, covered,” says Doug. “That my family would be ok.”
This is a kind of peace that surpasses all understanding—the gift of peace that God promises those who ask him for help.
Peace comes as the antidote of fear. Peace helps lay the worries to rest, not as a form of denial, but by looking outside yourself for strength and help in facing fears at the right time.
When you look outside yourself, you become open to trusting your future to someone bigger than yourself instead of your limited power to control your circumstances.
This gift of peace might sound intriguing. How can you actually find it?
FINDING A PEACE THAT SURPASSES UNDERSTANDING
Knowing what spiritual peace is like can be confusing.
In many religions, peace is something you try to attain through meditation, acts of service or even self-denial.
However, in the Christian faith, peace is something that the Creator gives to people as a gift. And the way to find it is to ask for it.
And when you have asked for it, you can experience the power of this peace. That’s not my promise. That is God’s promise.
Here are seven things to know about the peace of God:
You must look outside yourself for this peace.
You will not find this peace by looking deep inside your own heart, but by looking outside of yourself, to another power and a person. And this person is God.
This peace is a gift.
As God has said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.”(1)He offers this gift with no strings attached. It is a blessing for us to enjoy(2). But it is something you must ask for in order to receive.
This peace surpasses all understanding.
The peace that God offers is not something we can fully understand. We are relying upon God after all. As the Bible says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding…”(3)The great thing is that we don’t have to fully understand it to experience it!
This peace will give you strength.
The feeling of calm and confidence, even while the wind blows and thunder rolls, is a powerful weapon against the storms of cancer and coronavirus. Those that experience it will find a new kind of strength. God has promised to increase the power of the weak, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles.”(4)
This peace will guard your heart.
Especially in the face of suffering and threats, your heart is a fragile thing. This peace builds a fortress around your heart and protects you from the surrounding dangers and fears.
This peace will help you sleep.
So often, our anxiety rears its head the most when we try to sleep. If we begin experiencing a calm and tranquility about our future, better sleep is a natural outcome. God promises it to us. “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”(5)
You must ask for this peace.
We can’t assume that this peace will automatically arrive on our doorstep. We have to ask God for it. He is relational and does not intrude on people. You must invite him into your life, and into your journey. As God says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”(6)
PEACE FOR ALL
There is a gift of peace you can experience, no matter where you are at on your journey. Are you ready to ask for it?
For help with asking God for the gift of peace, read Asking God for Help.
For help with dealing with fear, read Fighting the Fear of Cancer.
Note: We are not doctors and we cannot answer your medical questions. However, we welcome your questions about finding hope and knowing God.
(1) John 14:27 (NIV).
(2) “Psalm 29:11 (NIV).
(3) Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV).
(4) Isaiah 40:29-31a (NIV).
(5) Psalm 4:8 (NIV).
(6) Revelation 3:20 (NIV).