Circumstances don’t control my attitude

by | Jun 17, 2022 | Opinion

By Jeff Denton

Cancer.

Not what I was expecting to hear from the doctor. But surprisingly comforting at some level.

It sure explained the extreme sickness I was experiencing. It explained twenty pounds of weight loss in three weeks. It explained months of pain that had been increasing.

I had convinced myself I just wasn’t aging well. I was a wimp to the natural aches and pains that come with an older body. It had finally reached an unbearable level. Like the old tombstone that reads, “I told them I was sick,” I finally had a diagnosis that matched the level of pain I was experiencing. I told the doctor, “It’s a relief to find a cause that makes me not feel so insane.”

Of course, it didn’t immediately answer the, “What’s Next” question. And, it sure didn’t even pretend to address, “Why me?”.

As a pastor, I’ve stood at the bedsides of those who’ve died, next to infant caskets, and with those who’ve lost a loved one in both expected and unexpected ways. I have a theology that addresses why evil, pain and suffering exists in this world. So, I didn’t need to wrestle with the “Why me?” question.

Yet, I’ve lived a pretty clean life. I’ve never smoked or drank alcohol. I’ve only had sexual relations with one woman my entire life. I even take one step back from the microwave when waiting for my morning muffin to warm up. Doesn’t that guarantee me some exemption from a certain set us illnesses and afflictions?

Apparently not.

What I do know is that “for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) It hopefully doesn’t shock anyone to know I believe what I preach. Like the Apostle Paul in that passage, I believe I have more to do here on earth. I don’t want to cut that intentionally short as long as there’s purpose for me here.

But, also like the Apostle Paul, if God says I’ve accomplished what I was put here to do, then I’m not afraid of what lies beyond this life. I’m reconciled to God through faith in Christ. I know the glory that awaits because of my faith. Not because I deserve a great eternity; but because Jesus paid the way for me when I didn’t deserve it.

I agree with the great D.L. Moody, “Someday you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody…is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now.”

I discovered three verses in the bible that I have called my “life verses” for around four decades. From 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I strive every day, not always succeeding, to live with Joy, Prayer, and Gratitude. Hopefully that’s not a shock to those who know me. That didn’t change because of a diagnosis. The approach I hold to life doesn’t change because of my circumstances. My circumstances bend to my attitude because of the choices I made far in advance.

Cancer isn’t changing how I live, or my attitude in life…or death. It also doesn’t mean I’m going to take up drinking, smoking, or sleeping around. (Sorry ladies and potential drinking buddies.)

Cancer doesn’t change who I am. It just becomes part of the story. And I control my perspective.

0 Comments

Related News

Book ’em

Book ’em

My grandfather was a blacksmith. To supply his shop with the metal, wood, and other materials he needed to operate, he attended auctions. Auctions that sold all types of items. Since his shop was located in Ashdown, Arkansas, that gave him close proximity to the...

read more
Stuck on green stamps

Stuck on green stamps

My mom and her mother saved 7-1/2 books to get us that swing set. Just three years before in 1966, my parents had saved to buy their first house. Money was tight, so, if my sister and I were going to have that new addition to the backyard, Green Stamps would be the...

read more
Searching for Peace on Earth

Searching for Peace on Earth

As we approach the end to another year, we often ask if we’re better off than we were a year ago. Has this year summed up to be a winner or loser? Globally, are we a better world? Are people of all nations better off? Is there more peace on earth? When we use the...

read more
Tis the season

Tis the season

Here we are again…it seems like just a few months ago we were celebrating year-end holidays, and now we’re just days away from Christmas Day. How time flies! Christmas may hold different meanings for many people. For some, they remember family and friends that are no...

read more
Spider-Man and prayer

Spider-Man and prayer

Have you seen the first Spider-Man with Toby McGuire? I love that movie and I watched this one part the other day. After he gets his spidey powers he starts learning how to use them. He’s climbing walls and jumping from building to building. At one point, he remembers...

read more
Making memories

Making memories

My mother must’ve kept everything my sister and I ever made for Christmas. Some things were put together in school, but most were done in Sunday School. Same is true for anything we ever made, regardless of the time of year. Decades later at a Christmas gathering, if...

read more
The best radio reception

The best radio reception

It was Flag Day 1987. I was opening the mic for the first time as a new announcer on KTBB AM 600. It was the early part of my radio journey, and I was excited to be moving up in the industry. KTBB was the second radio station to be licensed in Tyler, Texas. A station...

read more
Knowing beans about chili

Knowing beans about chili

Knowing beans about chili “Oh, waiter. There’s a bean in my chili.” So goes the encounter every Southerner dreads when he orders a bowl of red and is served chili with beans. There are certain missteps in the South that are unforgivable. Asking a girl out without...

read more
Don’t Stand Alone

Don’t Stand Alone

As Americans we love “do it yourself”. DIY has become a national phenomenon. There are whole TV networks dedicated to DIY. Nothing wrong with that of course. It’s fun to figure things out on your own and complete a project then sit back and admire your work. ...

read more
Veterans