Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way,
consider it an opportunity for great joy.
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
James 1:2-3 NLT
Tell me about your joy, Linda,” I said to my friend.
“Joy! What joy? There is none,” she said.
Although Linda has been in remission for almost three years—her treatments long past and her life back to normal—her diagnosis continues to trouble her.
Cancer and joy—the idea seems foreign. But joy is more than an emotion caused by pleasant things or events. It runs far deeper than mere happiness. We don’t learn to walk by contemplating how it’s done. We walk by trying. Most difficult things worth learning are learned by doing them. This includes finding inner joy during the cancer journey. But how?
Enjoy the Moment
Betty, takes long-term chemo. She says, “I realized I’ll probably always have fear, and it may escalate at times, and there will be stuff in this cancer thing that I really don’t like. I simply decided I would work through the tough stuff and give my best shot at inner joy.”
Be Your Own Advocate
Distressful, sorrowful thoughts and feelings are normal. Hiding, ignoring, discounting, or denying them isn’t wise. That won’t help; it might even make matters worse. To be real, to experience and express our concerns, is of paramount importance. That doesn’t mean we’re weak, negative, or pessimistic. It means we are dealing with reality.
When we acknowledge our negative feelings, they lose their power. Release brings the relief we need to go on to other things. Sure, the negatives may return. But they are more manageable when we repeatedly respond to them this way. The unknowns, otherwise known as the what-ifs, can add anxiety we don’t need. Fighting anxiety is one of the biggest challenges for a cancer patient.
Allowing our creative imagination to roam free can rob us of inner peace. We have the power and ability to contribute to our own well-being. We can relay to others what is and what is not helpful. We can set limits by effectively explaining those boundaries to our loved ones. At times, you simply need to express your thoughts and feelings. To be heard helps a great deal.
The unfamiliarity of being your own advocate can be a challenge. But keep trying. It will help you secure the support you need.
Find Your Happy Place
I’m not suggesting we negate the difficulty of going through cancer. It takes effort and energy to find inner joy. But it’s worth the endeavor. We’ll spend the same energy and effort in unhappiness, possibly more.
Your contribution can have a lasting impact. Pass it on.
It takes a little extra courage, effort, and thoughtfulness to find joy in a tough situation.
Draw from Others
Time becomes very important to cancer patients. Most of us have looked at death. We’ve learned that a large percentage of things we worried about were not as important as we thought. We feel an urgency to make every moment count.
Our measure of faith is buoyed in various ways: a Scripture, a song, a thought, the beauty of nature, a kind word, or help from a loved one. Sometimes it’s enough to look up, or around—to see God’s creation and be reminded of His presence.
Because of God’s promise—“I am with you”—His joy abides within us and holds our hearts true. Let His joy be your strength.
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How do you find inner joy in the midst of trials?
by Venita McCart
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