I will give great thanks to the LORD with my mouth; in the midst of the multitude will I praise him; because he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save his life from those who would condemn him.
Ps. 109: 29, 30 Book of Common Prayer
“What did I do wrong?”
Those were the first words a friend of mine spoke after being told she had ovarian cancer. A conscientious woman, she’d faithfully had mammograms and watched her weight. She’d even had two children, unconsciously lowering her risk of ovarian cancer, according to some researchers. Because she didn’t follow up on a strange bloating she experienced, I heard her say, “I blame myself” for not catching the disease at an earlier, more treatable stage.
Sadly, there are people who will condemn us, behind our backs if not to our faces, for our cancers.
“If he hadn’t smoked like a chimney all those years . . . . ”
“She’s got such a temper and is a Type A, and we all know . . . . ”
“He knew something was wrong and he waited too long . . . . ”
“Well, what can you expect? She missed her mammogram and . . . . ”
The truth is, while we do know some common carcinogens, nobody really understands why one chronic smoker gets lung cancer and so does a person who never smoked, whose parents and spouse never smoked. Nor do we understand what causes the body to stop fighting all the mutant cells we all carry and to allow cancer to grow. Condemning a person for having cancer is adding insult to injury.
And yet, we do it to ourselves. Sometimes the needy person and the one who would condemn are the same person. Sometimes, God needs to save us from ourselves.
I struggle with this during every recurrence. I should have lost weight. I shouldn’t cheat on my celiac regimen. If only I had . . . .
Just for today, I need to be aware of God at my right hand, not condemning me, worthy of praise.