Years ago I took part in a training program in Vancouver, British Columbia. One part of that training involved a group of young women suffering from the disease of Anorexia / Bulimia. The group met regularly to help each other deal with their common illness. These women each knew at least one other person who had died from this terrible disease; some had their own close calls to tell about.
These young women called themselves “The Anti-Anorexia League of Vancouver.” Their intent was to provide supportive companionship for each other while aiming all their anger not at themselves or other people, but instead at the disease itself. And in their meetings, they would call into question which lies, which temptations, which impulses had last entered their minds from within their own bodily disease. Answers would include, for example, “my anorexia has been telling me over and over again how fat and flabby my thighs look in the mirror.” To which the group of supportive companions would challenge with “that’s a lie! You don’t have an ounce of fat left anywhere.” Or, “just because your body is telling your mind that you’re fat doesn’t make it true.” Then the afflicted group member would be asked, “so what did you do? Did you agree with that lie? Did you obey it?” If so, the group would counter with, “next time your disease tells that to your mind, call one of us before taking any action. We’re here for you night and day.”
As an observer in training, this reminded me of how Jesus operated with his disciples. He said, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” 33 (John 8:31-32). When the devil’s lies would flood his disciples’ minds with unhealthy temptations, they would remember something Jesus said at their last meeting, some greater truth, and then claim their new freedom.
Nowadays, thanks to our church’s Cancer Companions ministry, I find myself asking, “does cancer ever lie to our minds and flood them with temptations?” Things like “you’re cancer is your most important thing to consider today.” Or “you don’t need to attend that next meeting. You’ll be fine all by yourself.” Or, “your cancer is too far gone. It won’t matter anymore.” Do our cancer-cells ever try talking our minds into believing “your cancer is back” when it really isn’t, or “it’s all gone” when it really isn’t?
And now the even bigger question: “Does Jesus still speak truth to our souls through the Holy Spirit, and through our Cancer Companions group, in ways that help us become cancer-free first in our own minds?” Can our souls speak truth to our minds in ways that help us then attack not our own bodies but rather those untruthful cancer cells invading our space and telling us lies? And can our souls join together in being the “Anti-Cancer League” within our Cancer Companions group?