Friday, 21 February 2014


‘You don’t die of cancer. You live with cancer.’

I was amazed at the boldness of a friend who, having recognised this dreaded disease, now used it as an opportunity to share her faith with others. No, she was not healed, as no doubt she, with her family had so fervently prayed, but she had lived out her days as an overcomer.

I guess we all fear death, especially as we face old age and experience the encroaching ravages of arthritis or the approaching fog of dementia.

As I read the Bible I am challenged by the record of those who, it seems, decided to sit down and wait for death instead of living to the full each day the Lord gave them. There was Terah, Abraham’s father, who set out for the Promised land but never reached it because, having arrived in Haran, he decided he was too old to go any further. The whole family had to stay there for years until it was God’s time to take him.

Isaac was another who, it seems, was ready to sign off much too soon. With failing eye sight, he decided it was time to pass on the birth right. We may know the sad saga of how Jacob tricked his father and all the animosity that came out of this, but deceived Dad lived on for many years after that.

No, we may not have the health and senses we once had, but we don’t have to fear, or to wait for death. We have a God who still heals, who renews our youth, and we don’t have to be ill to die. He called Enoch to heaven when he was out for a walk with him. And Moses! Well, he was one hundred and twenty years old, but it says his natural strength had not abated and nor was his sight dim. But his days, like ours, were numbered, so one day God came to take him home.

Life is for living, and not for dying.

Today the physicians seem to be winning the war against cancer, but now we have the dreaded ‘A’ word, Alzheimer’s. We need to remember that we don’t die of dementia or even Alzheimer’s either.

Jesus said that if we believe in him we will not see death. Sometimes I feel I am already bereaved, with my nearest and dearest in care homes, but no, they are not dead and we must enjoy what we have of them.

A dear godly friend, taken to church and wondering where she was or who were these folk around her, was aware of the presence of God, and prayed, speaking out a word from the Lord.

My lovely sister, who still has islands amid the rising flood of memory loss, was found sitting with one of the patients in the dining area, her Bible open between them.

George had to go into care after the death of his beloved wife. At times he could be aggressive in his frustration in being unable to understand why he was separated from her. However, other times we found him at peace so very conscious of God’s presence and his goodness. We were told that, seeing the patients sat around he would think he was in church so would preach to them, telling them about Jesus.

God cares for these people who are shut away because of their disabilities and so, as Jesus came among us, sharing all the frailty of human flesh, sometimes he allows his own to share these infirmities and the diseases we fear so much that they may demonstrate this word, that life is for living.

I thank God that day by day he teaches me to trust him for health and always for strength to take the next step. May I, and you too, always remember that indeed, life is for living.