I was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2003. Yes, a black man with very dark skin who was born to a very dark black mother and equally dark father was diagnosed with a disease uncommon to people with dark skin.
The doctors called it Merkel cell carcinoma. Because I’d lived a fairly active life, had never been seriously ill before, and stayed in the gym and “in shape,” I felt now with this diagnosis and surgery that my world was collapsing.
Following my surgery, my brother recommended a book to me written by Dr. David Jeremiah, titled A Bend in the Road, for me to read while I was recuperating. The best-selling author is a popular pastor and host to an international radio and TV program. He was also diagnosed with cancer.
He wrote that “when life suddenly turns upside down, there, in the midst of our trials and in the center of our pain, is God…comforting, guiding, encouraging, teaching, sustaining.”
He drew his inspiration for this book from the poetry and deep truths of the Psalms. After reading this marvelous book, I decided to read the entire book of the Psalms (again), but I kept reading through to the next book of the Bible, which is Proverbs.
“For attaining wisdom and discipline; for understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young—let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.” –Proverbs 1:2-6
I already knew that persistent and consistent daily meditation was essential to continual maintenance of Christian character and attitude. I knew prayer worked, but I learned by reading this biblical gem that a proverb a day helped prevent spiritual decay while I was dealing with my natural disease.
And since there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, I could read the chapter corresponding to the day of the month and thereby always have a pertinent and powerful word for the day. This is spiritual medicine and divine radiation.
Proverbs is perhaps the most pronounced passage of scripture that provides pericopes – or reading selections – to be perused daily, and principles to help one prosper deliberately, and patterns to practice diligently in a very potent way. One can not peruse Proverbs without knowing whether he or she is playful (fool), plain (simple), proud (scorner, scoffer), or prudent (wise).
The prudent person will profit from the parables in Proverbs and become more productive, more promising, and the practices thereof will prolong life and produce love.
Proverbs proves that people who place priorities properly will listen to wise counsel (1:5); obey wise leaders (10:8); remember the knowledge they gained (10:14); persuade others to righteous living (11:30); practice discretion in speech (16:23); and personify godliness (10:5).
The book of Proverbs is on my daily supplement of vitamins. And you are destined to progress if you are deliberate and dedicated to prayerfully probe through Proverbs and practice the principles.
Don’t forget to take your medicine, for you never know when there’ll be a bend in the road.
The Rev. Dr. Walter T. Richardson is the senior pastor of the Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church, 17201 Southwest 103rd Avenue in Perrine. He is also an adjunct professor of religion at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens.