This blog post is part of the continuing story of our family’s journey facing my husband’s cancer with the grace that only the Lord Jesus can give. If you would like to read the story from the beginning, go here.
When one is diagnosed terminally ill and believes both diving healing and doctors, they often find themselves performing a constant, sometimes frustrating balancing act. You are often told that if you take the advice of doctors and undergo a treatment such chemotherapy or radiation, then you must lack faith in God to heal you. On the other hand, God often uses doctors to heal. He gave man the capability to discover such treatments. In the beginning, I found myself constantly petitioning the Lord for healing, believing He is able and also willing. My prayers went from asking the Lord for healing to praying that the drugs would work. Let’s face it, when one is terminally ill with little chance of survival, any extension of life or healing is up to our God. Whether the drugs work or not, is up to Him. Ultimately, our hope is in Him. With or without medications, my daily prayer is with the psalmist, “Lord, I pray that I will live and not die and declare the works of the Lord.
Many Christians believe that we have a right as sons of God to live 70-80 years without health problems and then just die of natural causes. That sounds good and I’m all for it, but I’m not sure I see that happen to believers any more than unbelievers. Many believe healing is part of salvation and is in the atonement. There certainly are scriptures that appear to suggest this. Often, those who believe this will say that “by His stripes we already have been healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) I understand that there are reasons for saying this, but if I am already healed, then why do the scans show cancer? I suppose the response would be that the provision for healing is already there and one can freely tap into it. This insinuates that the person suffering is the one to blame. There is much that one can say about this issue, but there is one thing for sure. It isn’t as simple and automatic as some seem to suggest. I’ve become a little weary of well-meaning saints endlessly quoting to me the magic formulas to healing (that seem to seldom work) and showing a lack of true, Christ-like compassion.
Many of our precious brothers and sisters in Christ have endless quotes, verses and declarations. Much of the time, these are meant to be, (and often are) an encouragement. All too often, however, they are delivered in a way that makes a cancer patient feel guilty for even admitting that they are sick.
There have been times that we have actually been scolded just for saying that I have cancer. “That’s a lie from the devil!” “You don’t really have cancer.” “You must confess that you are healed and it will be so!”
Just as insidious is, “Your faith will heal you.” The problem with these admonitions is that they put pressure and guilt upon the patient and the patient’s loved ones. So if I’m not healed, is it because I lacked faith? Everyone dies at some point, including the greatest saints in the history of Christendom- right down to the apostles themselves.
Saying these things do nothing to help a cancer patient, but rather load him down with yet another burden. The life of a cancer patient and his or her family has come undone. They don’t need more reasons to second guess themselves.
What we really needed to hear was, “I am praying for you and your family!” “How are you doing financially?” “How are your children doing?” “What can I do to help?” Thankfully, we also had friends who have extended this compassion to us!
We were doing okay, but as you might imagine, this dose of reality was not welcome and was quite sobering. Because this is an aggressive cancer, any sign of it is too much. As we have all along, we would trust our God, and rest in His capable hands. Life has more hurdles than it used to, but it is still a good race to run, and I am thankful for each and every day. If days or weeks of not feeling well, yielded extra years of life, it would be a good trade. What a privilege it is to be a believer in Jesus and walk with Him even through the valley of the shadow of death…I will fear no evil.
You can learn more about Dan Erickson, his family, and his ministry at his blog,”Dan’s Pulpit.” Follow “Facing Cancer With Grace,” to read our continuing story.