Spring is in the air, so medical appointments are on my calendar.
It just works out that way, although it seems ironic. Just when everything is springing back to life, I'm forced to turn my attention to the depressing prospect of cancer as my annual screenings for melanoma and esophageal cancer roll around.
I've had the first and have a condition which predisposes me for the second, so there's no getting out of these buzz-killing spring appointments. Living in denial would be irresponsible, but I sure hate being reminded "the old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be."
As if I needed reminding.
It can be a real battle to keep my mind from drifting to the "what ifs" of cancer. When these appointments draw nigh, that battle intensifies. As I often tell people, I'm not afraid of "being dead"; it's the "getting dead" that worries me.
Of course, cancer is only one of many scary threats we all face in this fallen world. The trick is to be vigilant without becoming neurotically paranoid; to be watchful without becoming obsessive; to be mindful without allowing fear to paralyze us.
I felt myself losing that mental battle one recent Sunday morning as I sat in church. Two of my annual medical checks and some unpleasant procedures were approaching and fear was slithering into my heart.
But then our worship team began leading us in a song:
"Here in this desert place, we're carried by Your grace; Your hand is strong to save.... When in the Promised Land, we'll see Your perfect plan, 'cause Your hand is strong to save....
"The Lord our God is mighty in battle; we are not afraid.... His hand upholds us through our trials; our God is strong to save....
"Above all death, above all life, above the battles that we fight, above any other name, our God is strong to save."
It was as if God was speaking directly to my fearful heart. I was so powerfully and intimately aware of God's presence, it almost took my breath away.
In that moment, I was reminded that not only is God real, He also sees me and holds me in His hands. Whatever comes, He's got me.
We're not guaranteed an easy time in this world. In fact, we're pretty much promised the opposite: "In this world you will have tribulation," Jesus said (John 16:33).
"But," He added, "take courage; I have overcome the world."
We are promised God's strengthening, gracious presence through whatever we face, and a very, very good ultimate ending to our story if we place our faith in His Son, Jesus.
The day after that experience in church, I turned to Psalm 91 and found another gold mine of encouraging assurances from God. If you've got some boogeymen stalking you, I encourage you to open up your Bible and check it out.
Psalm 91 assures us that if we know God's name, we will "dwell securely on high."
Knowing who God is and what He can do allows us to see our circumstances as God sees them, from "on high," with an eternal perspective.
We can know, like the Apostle Paul, that "our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Yes, our bodies are temporarily planted on this earth, sharing space with diseases, terrorists, and other evils that threaten us. But those things can't steal our peace, hope and joy unless we let them.
There's only one remedy for fear: faith. Not faith in just anything, but faith in God, because it's true -- our God is strong to save.
What He doesn't deliver us from, He'll deliver us through.
Crum (maryanncrum.com) lives in Abbeville and is the author of two books, "A Giggle Goes a Long Way" and "Live.Learn.Laugh!" She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.