A few nights ago I was lying in my warm, cosy bed listening to the roar of gale force winds whistling around my house thinking what it would be like being in such weather in a small tent camped on the side of Everest. That is what climbers there can experience! I can’t imagine how scary that must be! At the mercy of the elements, hoping beyond hope that a tiny tent can protect you against the bitterly cold and ferociously strong winds, trying not to imagine being swept off the slope it precariously clings to.
I’ve found myself watching the TV series, SAS: Who Dares Wins, during these past 2 weeks. It follows the journey of 25 civilians who have been selected to go through SAS training in a harsh mountainous environment.
‘Mountains are the harshest of terrains you’ll come across but this is where modern day warfare is.’ Quote from SAS Instructor
Not only do we watch as they are put through gruelling physical and mentally challenging tasks, but we also get to hear some of their life stories. All have a difficult story to tell! Those are what stand out to me -we all have a life story which often takes us to places we didn’t dream of being.
Battling cancer feels like I’m in the harsh terrain of modern day warfare! It has sometimes felt like I’ve been in the little tent with gale force winds threatening to rob me of life. It is not only a physical battle but an emotional and spiritual one too. As one of those battling, I have to dig deep within to find the strength to get through the days and nights. This is where my faith in God is essential.
Deuteronomy 31:6 says ‘So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.’
I have just had my third round of chemotherapy. Fear and panic always sit crouching at the door. I love that this verse addresses both but doesn’t stop there – it says that God will go ahead of me. That describes exactly what the Sherpas do on Everest. They know the mountain well. They go ahead of the climbers, setting up ropes and ladders to cross crevasses. They look for the best routes and then adjust them when ice falls make them impassable.
For me, I do not have physical ropes to cling to or ladders to cross, but I do have faith in God who shows me how to remain at peace in the midst of the storm. God knows everything about this journey I’m making right now. He knows when I need his peace, he knows when I need his comfort, he knows when I need his strength. And at every twist and turn, he is there.
I’m getting to know other fellow battlers in the chemo unit now! I enjoy our conversations where we share our journeys together. But we don’t just talk about cancer! We talk about our lives, families, jobs, places we’ve visited and life experiences. I always come away with the feeling that life is to be treasured and to value the little things perhaps more than I do. Being able to enjoy a dog walk two days after chemo was one of those moments!
As we know mountains are dangerous places but they are also places of inspiration and delight. Perhaps these moments in the chemo unit are the places when we stop and take stock of the things we treasure in life. Being in a place we never expected to be in perhaps aids that process too!