Have you heard of Rabbi Harold S. Kushner? He is a biblical scholar, and I read his book, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”, when I was going through treatments, and on page 44, Rabbi Kushner is analyzing the story of Job:
“…God is not doing this to us. If God is a God of justice and not power, then He can still be on our side when bad things happen to us. He can know that we are good and honest people who deserve better. Our misfortunes are none of His doing, and so we can turn to Him for help. Our question will not be Job’s question “God, why are You doing this to me?” but rather “God, see what is happening to me. Can You help me?” We turn to God, not to be judged or forgiven, not to be rewarded or punished, but to be strengthened and comforted.”
I read this book as I was trying to make sense of cancer and I was looking for answers to why I got it. Trying to answer this question led me down some dark places, it made me question my beliefs; whether I’d be here tomorrow and what did I do to deserve this? This last question is a loaded one. It is a question that can make us feel bad about ourselves in my opinion, and can make us angry and can get us stuck in being angry. I wanted to heal not be angry.
I had heard a few things that helped me come to grips with this disease:
- I asked my oncologist why I got cancer twice, I was healthy, and I didn’t understand when I was taking such good care of myself why I got cancer, and he said, “you were struck by lightning, sometimes we do not know why the lightning strikes…” He said it so gentle and kind; it helped me accept that I had a disease and I didn’t do anything to “get” it.
- A friend told me sometimes we need to be completely empty to receive the Creator’s gifts and we just don’t know why, it just is. This helped me to quit questioning my faith.
- The last sentence in the Rabbi Kushner’s story above made me start facing cancer in a different way. I wasn’t alone, and I was strong before cancer and will be strong after cancer. I have been in other tough spots and cancer just happened to be one of my biggest tough spots…
I also started to honor my feelings, they were a part of me and to fight them was to fight myself. I needed to be healing, not fighting myself. Besides, cancer treatments beat you up enough and doesn’t need any help from you to beat yourself up 🙂
There were many other things I did to get through cancer, but that’s a story for another day…
I wish you peace, strength and wellness.