How can I keep my faith to make it through another day?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I wish it's all over. I am almost 47 years old with PC that is not operable. Although chemotherapy is somehow working, I am terrified of being dependent with ADL's and my children don't really understand that I am just being kept alive. I just want to be free, whatever that means, But chemo is not really a way of doing it. I just want to be this over, I am not patient enough and I wish either for 100% of recovery or death but not by chemo which is kind of a slow death anyways, after all it's just a matter of time. I can't stand it anymore, I want to live but I don't want to be dying slowly. Am I loosing my faith? If yes, how do I get it back? I just hate to be waiting and live one day at the time. I used to plan weeks, months or even years ahead, now I can't and I don't know how to deal with that. I want to be thankful for each day i am around but I am not naive. I want to believe in miracles but I am not patient and I just can't live one day at the time. I used to like to dream but now I can't because I don't know what is going to happen tomorrow. How do you live one day at the time?

Expert Answer

Shelly Beach, MRE, is a seminary graduate; instructor at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan; author of seven books; and contributor to The NIV Stewardship Study Bible. She speaks nationally on faith, writing, and caregiving and is a host on the website Help for My Life in roundtable discussions on care issues. Beach's most recent release is Ambushed by Grace: Help and Hope on the Caregiving Journey.

You're facing one of life's most difficult challenges, and your feelings of ambivalence, doubt, and fear are common. May I express my support and prayers for you at this painful time in your life.

Your question cuts to the core of the issue faced by many patients diagnosed with terminal illness"”how do we live one day at a time when we don't know how much time we may have remaining in life? The question has both spiritual and practical roots.

Faith and an Uncertain Future

Christianity teaches that death here on earth is not the end for us. Our life continues beyond the grave. Facing a terminal illness often stretches our focus beyond this world to the next as we prepare to cross from this world into eternity. Those of us who believe in the Bible find hope in a future that has been secured for us beyond death. Yet death is a painful wrenching from all we know here on earth. Jesus, who conquered death for us, was moved to tears at the tomb of his friend Lazarus, even though he raised Lazarus from the dead just moments later.

Living one day at a time gives us the opportunity to evaluate what is important in life and order our spiritual priorities. The following things can help us when we face the crisis of a terminal diagnosis:

"¢ Talk to your pastor or priest, or spiritual leader.

"¢ Lean on the support of your church and faith community.

"¢ Seek the counsel of others who have experienced a similar journey.

"¢ Gather a circle of friends to support you in prayer and in practical ways.

"¢ Consider the role of hospice to assist you in working through the spiritual and physical challenges of your journey.

Prioritizing the Time In the face of an uncertain future, consider investing as much as possible, both spiritually and relationally, in each day.

"¢ Reconcile with loved ones. We all manage to jostle our way through life and produce bumps and bruises. Pray about who you may need to reconcile with or leave with parting words of grace.

"¢ Establish priorities. Focus your energies on the things that matter most, especially things that will have lasting value eternally and in relationships.

"¢ Things left undone. Accomplish as many things that you wished you could have done earlier in life. Engage loved ones along with you, and make as many memories as possible.

"¢ Things left unsaid. What wrongs should be set right? What grievances should be forgiven? What final words do you wish your loved ones and friends to hear? Be sure you write them down or record them.