Life takes on a different perspective when you’re hooked up on the drip in the chemo ward. As I write, I’m currently half way through a 90 minute session with my new friend of three weeks, Ipilimumab. Dad, having arrived from New Zealand with Mother, my sisters and brother during the week, is currently in the chair next to me keeping me company today. The ward is a strange yet increasingly familiar world of people coming and going, receiving their fortnightly or three-weekly dose of drugs, sitting there for a couple of hours, often with a family member alongside, then picking up their bag, putting on their coat, and walking off with a cheery wave to the staff and a “see you next time!” – all as if it was the most normal thing in the world for anyone to do. Normality and surreality all mixed in together. The nurses, right at the centre of it all, exude a wonderful sense of calm and friendly ordinariness in the face of each patient’s far from ordinary circumstances.
As I awoke this morning, I was confronted with that ‘today’s the day’ feeling I felt three weeks ago, knowing that while Ipi can be a good friend, it can also become a total threat. My mind started to be gently assaulted with that old enemy named anxiety again, that thing which is so often sent from the pit, and which attempts to rob us of our peace. As I sat up in bed with my morning brew, I opened my bible for my morning reading. What happened next has occurred so many times before that I really shouldn’t be surprised, but Someone had gone ahead of me and I soon found myself with a tear in my eye. It was Father, and he was at work again, knowing where I was in myself and ready through his Word and Spirit to meet me. As I worked through my reading in 2 Chronicles 20 (I’ve been making my way through 1st & 2nd Chronicles over the last couple of weeks), there I read the most faith inspiring account involving King Jehosophat of Judah. Facing utterly overwhelming odds as unexpected foreign invaders head in their direction, rather than automatically marshalling his forces, the King gathers the nation in and around the temple in Jerusalem and leads them in prayer. He firstly acknowledges before God God’s own incomparable nature, character and power. Jehosophat recalls before Him what He’s done in the past, before then confessing their own hopeless situation, lifting before God the utterly overwhelming odds that seem stacked against them. There’s a beautiful verse in the middle of it all where the King is praying, and it simply says,
“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you”. All Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children. (2 Chronicles 20:12 & 13)
You get the clear sense of vulnerability and faith going face to face with something that wants to come and steal, kill and destroy. I could relate to that. As the account continues, one of the prophets then speaks words God gives him, assuring them all as the nation saying, ‘For the battle is not yours, but God’s…You will not have to fight this battle’. And what does Jehosophat do…? Question it and argue the toss, saying it was all too simplistic and unrealistic? No, he bows down, face to the ground and worships. He and all the nation. As their army then marches out the following day, I guess not exactly sure what to expect, they’re led by the King’s appointed singers, shouting out in song,
‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures for ever’
What follows is stunning. Without lifting a finger, they watch as the joint force enemy invaders turn on themselves. Victory.
Again Father was a step ahead, as to say, ‘Jeremy, I’m on your case…I’m going ahead of you, just be still and know that I am God’. Don’t fight. Don’t be anxious. I’m the one who lays a table for you in presence of your foes and I want you just to sit down and be.’ What could I do except close my eyes in worship and thanks. Surely His steadfast love was at work again. And He’s here today, He’s here for each situation anyone faces where the odds seem overwhelming, because He loves His people and wants to glorify His name in both the smaller and greater situations in our lives. If it’s not the circumstance that He chooses to change, He can work change in me. No one is outside of His care and concern, no one insignificant or unloveable. Again today, I hold onto Jesus, who can do immeasurably more than all we can ask, hope or imagine.