I was a little late; heads turned as I walked into the crowded Sunday school classroom. I’d had my last chemotherapy session just two days before, and everyone knew it. The group around the coffee and donuts dissipated as people moved my way.
“Honey, how are you doing?” Lucy gingerly inquired.
And then Betty cautiously wondered, “How are you feeling?”
And finally, Sharon reprimanded, “I thought you should stay home and stay in bed today.”
These were concerned friends, almost like family, yet I felt like an innocent child getting a bad scolding. As a stage four cancer patient, I was literally fighting for my life. I wanted everything to be back to normal; I was tired of being a cancer patient, the attention it brought me and feeling so out of control of my life. I understood these greetings and bits of advice were meant to encourage, but instead they cut deep like sharp daggers.
My friends’ intent was to show their concern, almost to a fault; it was too much attention for me. And then others decided I needed to hear their advice and opinions about cancer side effects, diagnosis, and treatment. It didn’t feel good when they told their own relative’s death by cancer story or documented the most up-to-date information on the current cutting-edge treatment. I needed a sign that said, “I’m doing very well, under the circumstances. It’s good to see you, too; I appreciate your continued prayers!” I prayed God would help me be compassionate and gracious.
That day, I was surprised how the ‘meant to be encouraging words’ made me feel so wounded. Not sure why, other than how it seemed the comments were tossed carelessly out of their bearers’ mouths, before landing on my ears, turned into ‘sticks and stones’ that injured me emotionally. Where could I run? I thought about making a quick trip to the women’s room. Who could I turn to? It seemed no one safe was readily available. “God help,” I prayed. I remembered a song I taught my kids when they were in elementary school. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.’ Proverbs 18:10 And so that’s what I did, I ‘ran into the Lord’s presence.’
I asked God to shelter, protect me, and heal me from the hurtful comments and misplaced opinions of those who meant well. I turned to God to be my fortress. Defined, a fortress is a strong tower that can’t be moved. It’s a stronghold. God is a protective haven of shelter from harm, but he can only be this for us if we choose to run to him for safety. He is our safe place. He knew we would need a place to run. “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold,” says Psalm 18:1–3. I chose Jehovah Maozi to be my fortress, my protector. Instantly, I felt his peace and was delivered from the pain of the hurtful comments.
No matter what you are facing today, Jehovah Maozi—my fortress—provides His presence. Let Him be a dwelling place you can go for help. His presence is a refuge, and His peace has impenetrable walls. Wherever we are, we can run to our fortress. He is waiting for us to come to Him so He can comfort us. Nothing and no one can harm us when we abide with him and he with us.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!'” —Psalm 91:2
Dear Jehovah Maozi, you are my fortress. Thank you for protecting me from physical and emotional harm. Help me to run to you at the exact time when I need your presence to enfold me. Help me to seek you immediately. Thank you for your name, that it is a strong tower. Help me to run to it and allow you to keep me safe. In Jesus’ name, amen.