November 13, 2013
"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." James 2:17 (NIV)
When I was 31 years old I received a diagnosis of breast cancer and affected lymph nodes.
Three months later I stood in front of a mirror. One breast misshapen from surgery. Twenty extra pounds after a second surgery and early menopause. Skin translucent from chemotherapy meds flowing through my veins.
I didn't recognize myself. I didn't recognize this new season. Life was uncertain at best, and scary on most days.
I wanted to be strong for my three babies.
I wanted to be strong for my husband, who was in protective mode, but also vulnerable as his young wife battled cancer.
I wanted to be strong for my mom, who snapped pictures when I wasn't looking, to capture memories of the daughter she loved, but feared she'd lose.
Where was I to find strength?
In the midst of what often felt like rough seas, my faith in Christ became my anchor. Additionally, God provided people who helped carry my burden.
Their strength became mine in a hundred small and large ways. How? By putting their faith into action as James 2:17 tells us to do: "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (NIV)
Throughout the hard days of my treatment and recovery, I saw this verse lived out over and over.
A neighbor and his wife mowed our yard every week while I sat through chemo. Many brought groceries. Others cleaned our house. Put gas in our car. Cooked meals.
This faith in action eased the burden of physical and financial needs I felt I had to carry alone.
Friends sat in the waiting room with Richard while I was in surgery. They took our children out to eat and brought them treats.
This faith in action lifted the weight of worry over my beautiful children and husband.
One friend noted my need for humor in the midst of so much bad news; her attempts at being funny were just the right prescription. Another brought balloons to chemotherapy. I sat with a needle in my vein, bright balloons attached to my chair, and a smile on my face.
This faith in action bore my weight of sadness as I laughed out loud.
There are days I pinch myself; it's hard to believe 23 years have passed since then. My "babies" grew up and have given me grandchildren. Richard and I are growing older together.
Cancer is a word in my past, but faith in action is woven in my present.
I'll never forget how small acts, piled upon one another, equaled big relief for a family in crisis.
Sometimes we might think that faith in action is doing big things, and certainly it is; but small actions matter too.
James 2:17 doesn't diminish the beauty of faith, but rather tells us to put action with it. Action moves your faith from being one of words to life-changing impact on others.
Right now in your church, across the street, or somewhere in your community there is someone in crisis. Perhaps there's a friend or family member who is sick, grieving, confused or afraid, and you aren't sure what to say, or what to do.
Take a look at their needs and your means to meet them. Determine what you are able to do, then put your faith into action. Serve up a hearty dose of food, love, laughter, babysitting, or comfort!
Dear Lord, thank You for showing me someone who needs You. May my faith in action be a blessing today. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Do You Know Him?
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The Unburdened Heart by Suzanne Eller.
Reflect and Respond:
Sometimes when a friend or family member is battling cancer, you might not know what to say. Ask about what mattered to them the day before they were diagnosed with cancer. Family, faith, interests, etc.
Who do you know in need, and what is one act of kindness that would relieve their burden? Do that today.
Romans 12:13, "When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality." (NLT)
© 2013 by Suzie Eller. All rights reserved.