God & Cancer

I’ve never wanted to use this blog as some sort of personal diary of my family’s life, but sometimes events are worth mentioning. I hope you will indulge me today.

My wife, Jan, was recently diagnosed with a very aggressive breast cancer. She has now begun chemo treatments. We expect surgery to follow later. When something like this occurs, one certainly must do what the name of this blog enjoins—ponder principles.

As a Christian, I view all of life as a gift from God, and I want to see and understand every circumstance that comes into this life through God’s eyes, as much as is humanly possible. Fortunately, we have His Word as a guide. From His Word, and from what I’ve experienced of His ways during my sixty years, here’s where my pondering leads me this day:

  1. As the Scripture says, “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Being a Christian does not shield anyone from life’s misfortunes. We live in a fallen world, and disease is part of that fallenness. Sin destroyed what God originally created. He is not to blame for this illness; to rail against Him and question His goodness would be the height of foolishness. His sons and daughters are not exempt from what the world offers, both good and bad, but Scripture is full of examples of God’s love toward His children who are suffering. His character is unblemished.
  2. God is a God who heals. We are told to pray for one another and seek that healing. The God who healed lepers and raised the dead in both Old and New Testaments continues to do miraculous works on our behalf. “Jeus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” we are assured. I have met people who have been healed of cancer apart from medical treatments, healed directly by prayer. I’ve also witnessed, on occasion, healings that could only have come from the hand of God. Therefore, I believe that Jan can be healed this instant, and that it may happen as His people band together in prayer. Where even two or three gather together in His name, He is with them.
  3. God is the creator of man’s mind. He has opened up the knowledge of His world to those who want to understand how things work. As a result, man has come up with ways to deal with disease. Our understanding is imperfect, but medicine is not alien to God’s purposes. He will work through doctors to bring healing. I am long past my youthful, immature reasoning that said any Christian who turns to doctors is not exhibiting genuine faith. I was tempted in earlier days to believe that way, wondering if I was being unfaithful to my Lord if I trusted anyone else to offer healing. I didn’t fully realize that all healing is from His hand, in whatever way it might come. Therefore, as we face this health crisis, we will put ourselves in doctors’ hands, asking God to direct them appropriately.
  4. Not everyone receives a healing in this life, not even those who put their entire trust in Him. I know this bothers some, but it’s just one of those facts of life. I have learned from painful experience, which I don’t wish to share at this time, that one does not put God in a corner, trying to force Him to act. To think that one can do so is to reverse the situation and claim to be God oneself. He calls the shots; I don’t. He is not my puppet who must do what I command. Rather, I give myself to Him wholly and accept whatever comes, knowing that in all things, even those that appear to be awful, that if I love Him, He is working all things together for good. That’s what faith is all about.
  5. There is an ultimate healing. This life is only a temporary stop on the way to eternity. For Christians, there comes a time when cancer and all other diseases will disappear completely. Heaven will be a direct experience of the perfection God always intended for this earth. If we don’t receive a healing now, we will later. The last time I checked, the mortality rate for humans was still 100 percent. Everyone dies; it’s just that we do so on different schedules. We are all terminal. Even those who receive their healing now will die eventually. Lazarus died twice.

What is the conclusion then? Where do all these ponderings leave me? Neither Jan nor I really fear death itself. That will be a glorious transition out of this “vale of sorrows.” What we fear is the path to that transition. How painful will it be? How much suffering will have to be endured? That’s why I’m going to continue to pray for that “temporary healing,” while we wait for the ultimate healing to come. Whatever happens, God is with us all the way, offering His comfort and teaching us His ways. And if the result is that we are drawn closer to Him and we experience Him more fully, the journey will be worth the pain.