Saturday, December 22, 2007

December 21, 2007 - Not On Our Knees?

I’m thinking about something I read the other day in Leroy Sievers’ “My Cancer” blog on the NPR website. Leroy’s the TV news producer who’s been struggling against colon cancer that's advanced to his brain and spine, and whom Ted Koppel recently profiled in a documentary on cancer survivorship.

In his December 18th entry, Leroy’s musing on the subject of strength, and where we find it. “Where does the strength come from to keep fighting, even when the odds may be stacked against us?” he asks, rhetorically.

Then, he dips into his rich experience in news broadcasting to come up with a potent image: “Back when I was working in Latin America, one of the rules was that if you were stopped at a roadblock, you never got on your knees. Others, including journalists, had been forced to kneel. Then they were executed. So the thinking was, never get on your knees. Well, I may have bad days. I may be weakened by the pain. It may be all I can do to fight through the day. But with all of that, I'm sure as hell not getting on my knees. Ever.”

So speaks a man who’s had some grueling days of late, but who’s determined not to give up. I think he’s right. The only way to persevere as cancer survivors is for us to refuse to get on our knees.

Of course, from the Christian standpoint, I’d be quick to point out another meaning of the phrase, “on our knees.” Sometimes it refers to prayer. Now there’s an “on our knees” experience that doesn’t symbolize resignation or defeat. We’d all do well to get on our knees, in that sense.

Some look on prayer as a weakness. It’s the last resort. “Say your prayers,” growls the evil villain in the movies, before finishing off his victims. Yet, the most effective prayers are those uttered not out of panic, in extreme situations, but rather as a joyful, ongoing spiritual discipline.

Leroy’s right. We shouldn’t bend the knee to cancer. Not ever. Yet, there is one to whom we can bend the knee, without fear of being destroyed. It is this one who gives life, even in the face of a fearsome adversary like cancer.

“Happy are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.

They go from strength to strength...”

– Psalm 84:5-7a

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