The chemo was wreaking havoc on his body. He wasn’t able to eat and was weakened to exhaustion. Where do we go from here? We may be killing cancer cells, but at what personal cost?
It’s not easy to hear this from almost seven driving hours away. If I could teleport myself directly to Pennsylvania for these conversations, I surely would, but I was digesting my latest email update from my mother about my father, and God gave me this Scripture:
Psalm 61:3, ESV, King David speaking
For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
I felt strongly that we could substitute the word “enemy” with “cancer” because God had been sustaining my father on and off since 1981 through six different battles with this persistent foe. It had once again rented my father’s body and officially moved in. An unwanted tenant, it was taking more than major surgery to evict it, and at this point, we needed more than the words of doctors to sustain us.
We needed a fortress. We needed to seek a safe place to cry out.
Every fortress where we huddle in and regroup must have a tower, a high place that shows itself strong and imposing on the horizon—
—a place from which we can look out and see beyond ourselves
—a beacon to others of its presence
—a warning to an approaching enemy that it cannot come any further.
Lo and behold, King David recognized the Lord as his strong tower when the enemy was in strong pursuit! He holed up with God when life became phenomenally more scary, and he recognized Him as not only a refuge, but also as an elevated place—a place to be lifted up.
David was a king at the time of writing that psalm, one believed to be in “enforced exile from the tabernacle, which was the visible abode of God“ (according to Charles H. Spurgeon). His reflection was not coming from a light and fluffy moment. He was communicating about a God he had come to trust. He had built his life on the foundation of that relationship.
I sent my mother that verse and went about my day. Not surprisingly it spoke life and strength into her at a moment when she found herself not only wife but caretaker, advocate, nourisher, and nurse.
Why did it strengthen her? Aren’t those just words, after all?
They spoke into her life because she knew what King David said to be true. She had lived it time and time again, and when we remind ourselves of the words God inspired in the Holy Scripture, we speak a truth that has been passed down over the ages. What we echo has been spoken and confirmed by many hearts in relationship with God throughout history.
Isn’t that incredible?
#Hebrews4_12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the 💗.
— Bonnie Lyn Smith (@BonnieLynSmith) September 20, 2016
Interestingly enough, King David passed his sentiments and strong faith down to his son, King Solomon, who similarly shared with us that the name of the Lord is a strong tower. It’s clear that relationship with God was of tremendous value to these father and son kings. King Solomon knew that the Lord as strong tower was a place to run to, to take cover, to rush in without hesitation.
Even just the name of the Lord protects, sustains, guards, and fortifies.
Proverbs 18:10, ESV, King Solomon speaking
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
Why does the righteous man recognize the tower for what it is? Because it is tested and tried. He has been there before. He knows the tower is trustworthy, faithful, and true. He can count on it.
Where do you need to take cover from whatever is chasing you?
Do you come to God to deal with:
- Your sin?
- Your shame?
- Your fears?
- Your discouragement?
- Your trials?
- Your grief?
Do you know how safe and strong that tower is?
The more we run into it, the more we understand that it’s an amazing place to deal with all our “stuff.” Our baggage. Our confusing situations.
It’s not just a fortress but a tall place from which we can find better perspective and see out a little from God’s point of view (what He chooses to reveal to us).
We run in feeling hemmed in and stressed out,
but we exit the tower with a soothed heart and clear mind.
Nothing changed about my parents’ circumstances just because I sent that Bible verse, but the Word of God sustained them. It always has. Cancer still has a foothold. Chemo is still an undesirable weapon.
But the tower remains no matter which winds blow against it.
It stands tall and solid.
It is not intimidated by an oncoming attacker.
Powerful kings with God’s favor in Old Testament times needed to seek Him as Protector. They knew there was a limit to their own might.
Do you know your limits?
Will you take this wisdom from kings and run to the Strong Tower?
He is waiting for you. Won’t you run in and be safe?
— Bonnie Lyn Smith (@BonnieLynSmith) September 20, 2016
(Dad passed December 2, 2015, just a month after the original publication of this article. I will never stop missing him, but he now rests in the beautiful arms of Christ, our Savior!)
*This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today.
**It has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Pick Your Pin Tuesday, Worshipful Wednesdays, Women With Intention Wednesdays, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, and Christian Mommy Blogger.
Anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).