Love Your Neighbor

I know I typically write about my journey with stage IV cancer but MY journey, while it certainly includes cancer, is about so much more. My journey is about being a Child of God, a wife, a mother, a friend. I’m pleased to report that since my surgery in January, I’ve done 8 weeks of low dose chemo/herceptin and continued metabolic therapies and I am doing very well. I have developed tinnitus from my chemotherapy and we will likely stop said chemo because the tinnitus usually leads to permanent hearing loss if the chemo is continued. We are hoping and praying that when I have a PET scan in a few weeks, it will be clear! If not, we will keep on trusting the Lord, make some adjustments, and carry on!

Life beyond cancer has been good and we are blessed. However, things have become interesting with the Coronavirus. One of the first outbreaks and deaths from the virus in the US occurred in Seattle, near where I receive my treatments. There are confirmed cases in my county and in all honesty, I’m sure it’s been in our area far longer than we realize. I am considered a “high risk” individual because my blood counts are affected by chemo and my heart function is reduced due to Herceptin. I was asked to stay home from treatment today because I had a runny nose and sore throat yesterday (thankfully I feel better today). Despite that, I’m not fearful. We are taking extra precautions but I’m not living with anxiety. I truly have the peace of God covering me.

This has given me pause to reflect on what I see on social media and in real life. This pandemic is bringing out the absolute worst in people: hoarding and STEALING of essentials, fist fights over toilet paper, selling hand sanitizer for $100 on FB marketplace (I saw it with my own eyes), people stealing sanitizer and BOXES of face masks from ER’s and medical establishments….”the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick.” What is driving this behavior? FEAR. Fear of the coronavirus, fear of running out of [TP, sanitizer, soap, etc]. Fear is a powerful motivator.

This pandemic is also bringing out the BEST in people. I have personally received more offers of help (grocery shopping for instance), than I can count! There are over a dozen women in my church who’ve said they will watch other people’s kiddos when schools close down so they don’t have to take leave from work. Let me just say this loud and clear, CHRIST-FOLLOWERS, THIS IS OUR TIME TO SHINE. We were made for such a time as THIS…..A PANDEMIC. The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Ask yourself, how can I love my neighbors, my community, my unreached friends during this time? This will obviously look different for each person but some things that quickly come to mind:

If you are blessed to stay at home/work from home, consider offering childcare to friends who don’t have that luxury. If their schools are closed, they will be scrambling to find childcare or figure out if they have enough leave/vacation to cover the closure. Will it be inconvenient for you? Yep. Will it be more stressful? Likely. Will it be a blessing and a way to love them? ABSOLUTELY.

Support local small businesses. These places likely don’t have the financial buffer that huge corporations do and shutting down for two weeks or more could be detrimental. Make a conscious effort to shop small during this time.

Check in on your neighbors, especially any elderly or medically fragile ones. Consider offering to make grocery runs for them, share your TP if needed!

Consider using this time to purposely cut back on unnecessary spending to set extra money aside and ask God for direction on where it can best be used. Maybe that would look like helping a neighbor or friend make their rent b/c they temporarily lost their job due to everything shutting down, maybe it’s paying for someone’s groceries, etc.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, Share your hope, the gospel. Let people see the peace and joy the Lord provides in uncertain times like these. We know how the story ends….God wins! Offer that assurance to those around you! What good it is for them to survive a virus only to die spiritually?!?

Christians, we are called to be the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden (Mt 5:14) In this time of darkness, fear, and anxiety, we have an opportunity to shine BRIGHTLY. Sure, it would be easy to stay home, hunker down, and wait for the proverbial storm to pass but actively loving our neighbors is what we are CALLED to do. How is sitting at home loving them? This, my friends is KINGDOM WORK. What good is it to gain the toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and retain your health but not actively love those around you(1 Cor. 13)? God has done some of his best work to further His kingdom during times of crisis. Will you be one of his vessels during this crisis?

It is easy to focus on the media, the virus, the political climate, the stock market, etc. It is easy to worry about ALL THE THINGS! But God…. when you shift your focus from those things to God and how he can use you, you will become less anxious, less fearful, less agitated. Your mindset will shift from worldly concerns to eternal ones. How can I type this with such certainty? Because friends, I have been facing my mortality for 4 years. I’ve been told repeatedly that I have “incurable-terminal” stage IV breast cancer. I’ve lived the fear, panic, what-if’s, worst-case scenarios. I’ve been there. MULTIPLE TIMES. Through that, I have grown, matured, and learned to “let it go…..” and give it to God. Lay those things at his feet and see my cancer journey as an opportunity for growth: personal growth, spiritual growth, Kingdom growth. When we set our minds on things above, when our focus changes from things of this world to eternal glory, our hearts change and our lives change.

Where are YOU today? Are you filled with peace, looking to your Father in Heaven? Or are you filled with anxiety and fear about all the things wrong with this temporary world?

Shalom-Peace to you~

Cheryse

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