Seven years ago this month I heard the words, “I have the diagnosis. It is breast cancer.” The next morning’s scripture reading found me in Psalm 111:
“Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart, in the company of the upright and in the assembly.” (Psalm 111:1)
Need I say I didn’t feel like praising God at that moment? I did not, not in the least! But I did praise God. It was hard, but I continued to praise God, through my tears and fears and thanksgivings, for the next year and a half of cancer treatments. That treatment included two surgeries, two sets of chemotherapy and the resultant heart damage, and finally radiation. I continued praising God through months of crying out to him in times of fear and in days of weakness.
To offer the sacrifice of praise to God in the midst of trials is to put into words our trust in him, for ourselves and others to hear.
After seven years of doctor appointments and tests every six months—and thousands of prayers prayed on my behalf—last month I heard the words, “Everything looks good. See you in one year.”
Though I understand full well there are no guarantees in life where health is concerned, cancer being no exception, this day, and each day God deigns to give me, I will step into Psalm 116 and speak from within it, my voice becoming the psalmist’s:
“I love the LORD, because he hears my voice and my supplications. Therefore I shall call upon him as long as I live. The cords of death encompassed me … then I called upon the name of the LORD; “O LORD, I beseech you, save my life!” Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yes, our God is compassionate. … What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I shall lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the LORD. … O LORD, surely I am your servant … you have loosed my bonds. To you I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the LORD. I shall pay my vows to the LORD, Oh may it be in the presence of all his people … Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 111: 1-19, emphasis mine)
“Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the Most High; call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me. He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; and to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:14, 23)
“Through him (Jesus) then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to his name.” (Hebrews 13:15)