The heading in my Bible right above Matthew 6:25-34 reads, “The Cure for Anxiety.” Being all too familiar with the sickness anxiety brings to my soul and body, this heading caught my attention not too long ago. Anxiety is a hidden killer. Instead of it causing one to walk around with a limp, a cane, or a bald head, it often presents with wide-ranging symptoms such as lack of sleep, panic attacks, and paralyzing fear. There is no ribbon color advertising support for those who suffer; no race; no funds to support research to fight this debilitating disease of the soul. In the circles of people I run in (and these are just the ones I know of), anxiety is as common, if not more common, than cancer.
Around this time three years ago, Donnie and I knew the Lord was “stirring the waters” (Psalm 107) of our souls to church plant. This alone was and continues to be an anxiety inducing process! Still, by God’s grace and our limited knowledge of what we would face, we said yes and moved to Arkansas in August of 2014. Since that time, our son Titus’ cancer has relapsed twice, once in October of 2014 and again in October 2016. Believe me when I say we have asked more than a thousand times, as I know many of you have, “REALLY??!! What is happening right now?? Did we miss You, Lord???”
We have had our share of “Job” moments and even a few of “Job’s friends.” As we continually take it to the Lord, He continues to tell us to keep going and to not forsake what He has called us to…*sigh*
We have known since his initial diagnosis when he was six years old, that if Titus’ cancer ever returned, there was really nothing else the doctors could do to help him. Initially, they gave him everything they could; the second time a little more; and with the most recent relapse, we were told in October that anything they would give him was just to “buy him some time.” Our weary warrior finally said, “Enough.” After battling not once, but twice now, he knows the horrors of cancer treatments and wants no more to do with hospitals and cancer drugs. Instead he wants homework, basketball games, and playing ball in the backyard with family. After agonizing as we considered the minimal options we had, we surrendered and have chosen (with Titus) to do a more holistic approach to treatment this time. After seven years of dealing with cancer, we have finally all let go and genuinely, in the best way we know how, given this situation to the Lord and asked for His will to be done.
When we first heard the news until now, we have not had any desire to talk about it, mostly because there is nothing to say. Also, after living for so long as “that family” and Titus being the “cancer kid,” we are desperate for some sense of normalcy. Therefore, at home and in our lives, we try to do life as normally as possible. Changing the way he eats and taking supplements are about as outside the normal as we have had to get, which has been wonderful! God continually shows us everyday that this is the right decision. Titus is physically VERY active and feeling great. He has absolutely no symptoms of any kind. Currently he is eating us out of house and home and showing indications of growing in ways the doctors said would not happen since his pituitary gland was damaged beyond repair by radiation. In October, the doctors didn’t give us a “time line.” Basically because they have no idea how the four spots are going to act. He is doing far better than what we imagined though, and we try to enjoy each and every day as a gift from God.
People OFTEN say, “I cannot imagine what you are going through…” The truth is, you can. And it is as awful as what you would imagine, maybe more. Anxiety is constantly knocking at the door of my heart and increases my heart rate whenever say, the school calls, or he looks a certain way that isn’t “normal.” To give you an analogy, Donnie and I were watching a show the other night where a woman had a bomb strapped to her stomach (We are action show watchers), but she and her friend had to keep going through the day acting like nothing was wrong while trying to figure out how to disarm the bomb. I stopped and looked at Donnie and said, “THAT is our life right now.” In October, we saw on his scans, four spots the doctor said will be fatal for Titus, but as I’m typing this now, he is at school where he is a member of National Honor Society, and his major concerns in life are getting taller and wondering if I will let him stay after school to play basketball with his friends.
It’s the weirdest, hardest place we have ever lived. This is why I hope you can see that when I saw, “The cure for anxiety” followed by words in red that Jesus spoke, you can know I ate that Bread of Life with both hands.
Time and time again, I have gone to the Lord asking Him about the various things we are doing to treat Titus and to care for our family emotionally during this time. Over and over, He whispers to my heart from this passage, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Fix my eyes on Him; seek Him and Him alone above all; He will take care of all these things. The storm is raging all around, but eyes locked on Him like I would lock eyes for a stare fight with my kids. Focus, don’t let anything distract…
But how do we do this? Did Jesus speak an impossible command here? Seems so to me, until you read the following verse. “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
It’s a practice. It takes discipline for sure, but I tell you that these words of Jesus are literally how the Grigg family is making it these days, and His ways work, always, for all time. From the time the sun rose this morning, until it sets tonight, our eyes are fixed on Him, and we are living today! Don’t ask what our plans are for the summer, this weekend, or even tomorrow, because we are in survival mode of making it through today. When we do this, when we live by what Jesus said, it brings joy to THIS day, because it’s all any of us has anyway. So we refuse to think about, talk about, dwell on what MAY or MAY NOT happen. When we choose to walk this way, it is the cure for anxiety.
There are many times I allow the what if’s to take over, and find myself paralyzed, spiraling to a very dark place. It’s similar to taking your medicine, or not. The cure is there, the answer is ours for the taking to apply to our lives – its up to us to walk it out and live it by His power.
“Despair whispers, ‘Lie down and die; give it all up.’ But God would have us put on a cheerful courage, and even in our worst times, rejoice in His love and faithfulness.” –Streams in the Desert
Your prayers and God’s power and answers to those prayers are literally what is keeping us going. When people say, “All we can do is pray,” I want to yell out, “It is everything!” It is life to us; it is life to our boy. He is a living, breathing testimony that God hears and answers prayers. We are living, breathing testimonies that even in the DARKEST days, eyes on Him, one day at a time, He sees us through and can even bring joy and hope when it seems impossible.
“What is impossible for people, is possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
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