A Hope and a Future
By Natalie Bender of Lee’s Summit, MO, USA
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11 NRSV
I was diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer at age 18. The odds didn’t look good, and I was really angry at everyone, but especially God. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t understand. Why in the world would God put me though this? Why now? What had I done wrong? Why me? Wasn’t there more for me?
After some intense radiation and chemotherapy treatments, January showed up and my body was failing. I was bald and skinny and tired and weak and broken. I was sent home to let my immune system rest and recover before another dose of chemotherapy. I had been given the all clear to go out in public, so my mom thought it would be best to get me out of the house. I was not so sure.
It was an oddly warm January day for Kansas City, so I left my hat at home while she “dragged” me along to get dinner. While we waited for our order to take home, I sat down at a nearby table with a glass of ice water. Due to my weakness I managed to spill the entire glass of water all over me. In my brokenness, I just sat bawling, a saturated, shivering mess.
Then a lady walked up to me, placed her hand on my shoulder and said, “You are absolutely beautiful,” and walked away. There I sat, shiny bald, shivering, weak, and broken, yet someone came to me to show me kindness. In that moment I looked to God. I thanked God for allowing me to continue to live, and I understood that while I didn’t understand why God chose me, it didn’t matter. God had a plan. I just had to be willing to listen.
I dwell in your presence.
Prayer of Examen
Spend a few moments recalling your day. Let details, events, and conversations drift through your memory. Offer gratitude for the day and pray to be aware of how God was present. What did you notice or feel that brought meaning? Pay attention to moments when you felt least in harmony with God’s vision for creation. Offer a prayer of confession. Pay attention to moments when you felt most in harmony with God’s vision for creation. Pray to be even more aware of and responsive to God’s presence in the days ahead. Amen.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.