Years before my diagnosis of cancer, I lived in beautiful Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) with my husband and kids. The country was in the middle of the so-called “Bush War”, with the security forces on one side, and the terrorist regime on the other.
One long weekend, my husband and I conducted a Christian conference at an out-of-town venue. Dense bush surrounded the conference centre, and we knew we were vulnerable to attack by the terrorists of Robert Mugabe.
Prior to a time of worship, Rob and I spread palm branches on the floor. After reading the Palm Sunday story, we encouraged the folk to use the branches in an active display of praise. They responded with enthusiasm, able to turn their backs on the possibility of nearby terrorists. As we sang praises to God, the dangers and fears of daily life grew dim. Our God was greater than the threat to our lives.
After the conference, we returned to our homes with new courage. In 1997, I faced my own personal war against another form of terrorism: cancer. One day, I remembered that incident from way back. It had worked for us in that situation. It had also worked at other times. But would it work against cancer?
After all, whoever praised God, or anyone else for that matter, for cancer? I admit. At that stage, I couldn’t praise God for letting me have cancer. The best I could do was praise Him that He was still with me. I could praise Him that He had a plan through it all, although I sure wished He’d show me.
One day, during radiotherapy, I started to sing. I sang songs of praise, and muttered prayers of thanksgiving. As I focused my thoughts on Jesus and not on the machines, I gained courage that saw me through the treatment. Throughout the rest of that year, I kept my eyes open for situations where I could do a “praise attack” against the terror weapon of fear. It worked every time. All I needed to do was gather my courage and make an all-out effort. Sounds easy? Believe me, it was usually extremely difficult, and sometimes I failed to take the initiative. But I proved for myself that praise works. And yes, even in the face of cancer there is usually something to give thanks for. Even if it’s only for the ability to croak out the words, “I praise You Lord. I hate what’s happening. But despite this situation, I praise You.” What can you praise God for today, in your life?