Written by Ashleigh Slusmeyer
When I was first asked to share on Book for Hope’s blog, I began thinking back over the years of cancer: the lessons it taught me, the struggle and heartache, the memories both happy and sad, and tried to wrap my mind around what I could possibly write to sum it all up. How do you write about growing up with cancer as a part of your everyday life? While I did not personally have cancer, cancer does not often limit itself to affecting only the patient, but his/her loved ones as well.
As I wrestled with what to say, the word that God kept bringing to my mind kind of shocked me. It’s not one that I am particularly passionate about; it’s not one that I am intentional about very often, but He kept bringing to my mind: community.
There were many times throughout our cancer journey when we were exhausted: physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. But we couldn’t stop fighting. So, when we became too tired to fight, others came alongside us to do some of the fightings for us. We had friends and family who carried us through when we couldn’t carry on anymore. When we began to lose hope, when we became exhausted and discouraged, we had people come beside us and pray words of encouragement, words of hope, over us. We had someone to do the hoping for us when we couldn’t find the strength or energy to hope for ourselves.
I saw from a young age the church as a whole body of believers come together to comfort us and be the hands and feet of Jesus. So, when the four- year anniversary of my dad’s passing came up, we began discussing how we could honor him, what we could do to give back to the community, to bring beauty from ashes. One of my favorite verses, one that seemed to jump off the pages of my Bible and just speak life into me is 2 Corinthians 1:4, “He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves received from God.”
This verse is a challenge to me: there is a “so that” attached to the comfort He gives us. It wasn’t just for our benefit. In the same way that we were on the receiving end in our time of need, we want to be on the giving end in someone else’s time of need. We want to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We want to be part of a community that fights for others when they can’t fight anymore, part of the church that speaks words of hope over discouraging situations, part of the friendships that carry you when you can’t carry it all on your own.
I want to challenge you in a similar way. I’m sure that you can think back to a time in your life when you faced “affliction” whatever that might look like for you. Think about how you were comforted, how God walked you through, who He placed in your life to fight for you and carry you. But don’t forget the “so that” attached to His comfort. How are you now comforting others? Are you a part of that kind of community?
When I talk about the importance of community, please know that I am preaching to myself all the more. I am probably the least qualified person to be talking about the importance of community, but I’m learning and growing and I challenge you to do the same.
If you are looking for a place to serve or a community to get involved in, I would like to invite you to be a part of Book for Hope’s Just Imagine Childhood Cancer Walk on September 8 from 8:00 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. 100% of the proceeds will be donated toward childhood cancer research as well as to local families with children undergoing cancer treatment.
More than 40,000 children undergo cancer treatments each year; however, children only receive 4% government funding compared to 96% for adults. I can’t imagine a better way to share the love of Jesus and to be His hands and feet than to support, love, and comfort these children and their families. Please consider sponsoring Book for Hope in its mission to love and support those facing childhood cancer.
Written by Ashleigh Slusmeyer