By DANNY MINTON
You wake up one morning with a pain that doesn’t seem to go away. You’re feeling tired all the time and act like all your energy has gone out the window. You make an appointment with the doctor who doesn’t know what is wrong either so he orders some blood work and an x-ray. The x-ray and blood tests don’t look like he wants, so he decides to order a CT scan or MRI.
A week goes by, and you still feel bad but finally get the tests run. Another week or two passes and the doctor has you come in for a consult. As you sit in the exam room waiting for the doctor, a myriad of things pass through your mind. What could it be? Why am I so tired? The doctor enters the room, thumbs through your chart and with a sincere, grim look uses the one word you dreaded to hear. It’s the scary “C” word. With sad but sincere voice, “You have cancer.”
For a few moments, you hear nothing else. Question after question races through your thought process. Am I going to die!? Is it treatable? Will I have to have radiation? Will I need to take chemo? What stage is it? You are too shocked to cry, at least not yet. You have to let it sink in. Cancer, you of all people have this heartbreaking disease. Now, what do you do? You feel alone and abandoned.
There’s probably not a person reading this who has not had an encounter with that “C” word either personally or with someone close to us. Nearly every week I hear of someone I know who faced a diagnosis of some form of the disease. I’ve had friends survive only to have a recurrence. I’ve had friends and relatives pass away from the disease. I see those every week that I pray for as they fight the “C” word. It’s sad and depressing to see people suffer both physically and emotionally. The question is “What can we do for them?”
The answer is in some other “C” words. They are not as devastating as the big “C.” They are all uplifting and can be used to make the big “C” bearable. Those “C” words are Caring, Comfort, and Compassion. Someone taking the time to share these three “C’s” is helping those struggling with cancer and any other disease.
First people need to know we care. When illness strikes people feel so alone. They struggle with the “Why Me” feeling and don’t realize all the others going through the same thing they are embracing. When we show them that we care, we are telling people, “You are not alone. I am here to take this journey with you.” They don’t need words as much as just knowing that you are there for them and that you care about them.
Through our caring, we can give comfort. Comfort is what we can give to people to help them handle what they are experiencing. Holding a hand, giving a hug or giving words of encouragement all help those who are hurting. Being around a calm feeling in the room, knowing that they can share their heart and struggles with you adds a little bit of comfort knowing again that you are there for them and that you aren’t going anywhere.
The third “C” is compassion. Jesus reached out and touched the leper; he wept for Mary and Martha, he looked with compassion with the woman at his feet. He showed compassion wherever he went. Compassion is a way of feeling with people not just for them. It means you understand why they get angry or feel hurt and abandoned. Compassion is crying with them. Compassion is laughing with them. Compassion is understanding the hurt and pain.
I have no idea why we have the big “C” in this world. Why a disease like this even exists is beyond my knowledge. However, I do know why the other three “C’s” exist. God knows that when someone is suffering from the dreaded “C” word that they can make it through the trials if those around them practice care, comfort, and compassion.
Oh yes, there is also another “C” word that holds us all together. Christ. It is Jesus Christ who truly cares for us and what we are going through in the struggles of this life. His very being was one that practiced the three “C’s” everywhere he walked. It was because of his putting these into action that people drew near to him. When we practice care, comfort, and compassion, we are in a sense being ambassadors for Christ the one who practiced these more than anyone else.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ