Dealing with Dread

Dread is the one of the worst emotions, I’ve had my experiences with dread regarding cancer scans.Do you know that Jesus dreaded going to the cross? It says so in Luke 22:44.

The Dread of the Cross

The Romans designed the cross as the perfect torture device to suspend a person in agony for days. Hands and feet were pierced in a way to avoid arteries to prolong death. The pierced the hands and feet through bundles of nerves causing shooting pain through the arms, hands, feet, and legs. The only way to inhale while on the cross was to slide their raw, whipped back up and down a splintered verticle post. When they became too weak to push themselves up to inhale, they they knew they’d suffocate. Jesus, being half God and half man, experienced the dread of the cross while he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

Matthew 26:39

Jesus Asked to be Spared the Cross

Jesus experienced the cross as a human, but as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, as God, he saw what laid ahead. The upcoming betrayals, mock trials, hate, and the cross were too much to consider. However, knowing that his suffering and death meant our restoration with God, it strengthened his resolve. Do you ever dread something that you have to face? Cancer patients always have to deal with scans and their results are literally a matter of life and death. In the cancer community, we call it Scanxiety. Jesus was under such stress and pressure that he got a condition called hematidrosis where blood poured from his sweat glands. That’s the most severe form of anxiety, so extreme that it’s rare. He knows what it feels like.

 And being in agony [deeply distressed and anguished; almost to the point of death], He prayed more intently; and His [a]sweat became like drops of blood, falling down on the ground.

Luke 22:44

So We Can Relate

Jesus was misunderstood, doubted, disrespected, and experienced isolation, abandonment, and betrayal. No one talks much about Barabbas, but we’ve all felt the same. Have you ever literally laid down your life for someone, only for them to choose something or someone who doesn’t care for them over you? The God of creation subjected himself to every kind of pain and disappointment that we would ever feel. There is nothing that we will experience with which he hasn’t been acquainted.

For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Relating Cancer to the Cross

We can look at Jesus’ suffering and relate but it’s meant for us to know that he fundamentally understands. When we had pain and strange symptoms we went for scans hoping against hope that it’s in our imagination. Then comes the devastation by the truth that you have cancer. Having to endure one sickening treatment after another, the trauma to your family, going through those scans again to see if it worked or that you may not make it. I’ve had my emotions raw and bleeding and having to slide up an emotionally splintered pole to grasp a breath. Jesus experienced it all for us, and each part of his suffering was for the purpose to restore the relationship between humans and a just and loving God.

Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God.

Philippians 4:6

And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours].

Philippians 4:7

After 7 Years of N.E.D. & Annual Scans

Receiving the peace that “transcends all understanding” goes beyond a mental ascent. However, knowing scripture does something special. When Jesus is our savior, the scripture comes alive in us. It gives us power, and our spirits are more potent than the effects of sickness, pain, or stress. Although I’ve been considered N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease) for the last seven years, I still get annual scans. I’m not terrified anymore, but anyone will tell you that it trudges up thoughts and feelings. Did you know that God can and will give you a scripture to help you face a situation? The one he gave me was Psalm 107:20. I personalized it to, “He sent his word and healed my disease.”

He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

Psalm 107:20

How I Used Psalm 107:20

How did I use Psalm 107:20 to deal with stress or scanxiety? He sent his word and healed me in the past tense in my personal experience, but it can also be applied to the future tense. So if I’m struggling with the thoughts that cancer could return, I address that directly. If the Bible says he sent his word and healed my disease, he can do it again if, for some reason, it returns. I don’t know how people get through cancer without God and his word, but no one has to. Jesus endured it all so that God could walk with us through all of our valleys, even the valley of cancer.

Even though I walk through the [sunless] [a]valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me

Psalm 23:4
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