When Dr. David Butts, long-time Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, began writing his new book, "Prayer, Peace and the Presence of God: A 30 Day Journey to Experience the Shalom of Jesus," he didn't know that the words he was writing after six months of study would soon become desperately needed in his own life.
Barely one week into the writing process, Dr. Butts was diagnosed with Stage IV Mantle Cell Lymphoma, an incurable cancer. It was devastating news to his family.
"My wife, Kim, often tells people that we have not shed a single tear over cancer, but many tears over the love shown us by so many people," says Dr. Butts. "There's no doubt that the cancer diagnosis caused us concern, but I have to say firmly that we never lost our peace. I had been studying Scriptures on peace for over six months in preparation for the writing of my book, and those scriptures had prepared my mind and my emotions for this jarring intrusion into normal life."
Shortly after beginning his cancer treatment, Dr. Butts went back to writing his new book which is a 30-day prayer guide designed to be used as a daily devotional. The book also contains an addendum listing several scriptures specifically about peace. Dr. Butts says that understanding how to obtain peace is important in today's culture.
"In the midst of an anxiety-ridden world, there is no greater gift than peace," he says. "Christians are to model that peace, speak of it, and pray it into the lives of those around them. People try everything -meditation, exercise, drugs -- in order to experience calm and overcome anxiety. Then when external issues like loss of a job, relational problems, illness, and many others come along, we simply don't have the internal resources to deal with that. Much of what steals peace is not external, but internal."
As he completed "Prayer, Peace and the Presence of God," his cancer went into remission. And although he is hopeful, Dr. Butts has a new perspective on the course of his life.
"I was amazed at how much effective ministry could happen from a hospital bed," he says. "It's not the place or way I would have chosen, but the Lord demonstrated His sovereign power over all my situations. Whether God permanently heals me, or my cancer returns, I do not know. What I do know is that Jesus has given me peace. This peace is available to all His followers as it transforms us from the inside and allows us to overcome any circumstance in this life."