[The Lord] gives justice to those who are oppressed, and food to those who hunger. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind; the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous; the LORD cares for the stranger; he sustains the orphan and widow. . . .
Psalm 146:6-8, Book of Common Prayer
When I read those verses this morning, I thought about the comprehensiveness of the Lord’s provision. God is in every case the actor; we are the receivers of God’s grace. Regardless of the need—justice, food, freedom, sight, raising, care, sustenance—God is able to meet that need.
Need isn’t the same as want. I am prone to very bad, recurrent cases of “the wants.” Sometimes I make lists of them, just so I don’t forget that I want a manicure or a new pair of shoes. And then a tornado rips through the Southeast, and I realize how much I have already, or a friend faces surgery and I remember my own fears before my surgery and the blessings of being healthy.
When we are in the midst of treatment, our needs are very concentrated. We need to tolerate the regimen, we need our tumor marker numbers to go down and our blood numbers to stay up, we need rest and nutritious food. Life becomes stripped down to its essence when we are bald and bloated and weary from the chemo. I didn’t feel the need for a new outfit (though I was happy to receive hats and prayer shawls in abundance). I needed courage and grace; I asked people to pray that I would have a sufficient supply of both.
I find—nearly four years after chemo ended—that it’s easy for me to forget what is important and what is just part of living in a consumerist society. Being with other cancer survivors or speaking to future doctors or nurses helps to ground me in the reality that I don’t really need much. I have my health right now. I can’t know what the next check-up will reveal. But I have today, filled with all I really need and the knowledge that God is able to provide for any needs I have.