I want to share some encouraging words and resources for you if you have cancer or know someone who does. As a pastor I am often asked to pray for people that have been diagnosed with cancer. Cancer can seem like a life termination notice that seeks to destroy plans and dreams. The discomfort and fear of cancer treatment can push people into hopeless depression if they allow it. There can be hope and healing for those with cancer.
I have endured the scare of the possible cancer diagnosis in my family and I lost my grandma whom I loved deeply to breast cancer when I was seven years old. I think dying suddenly is great for the Christian who is prepared to die but tough for the loved ones left behind who had no chance to say good bye. I think having been told you may die soon is a gift to help you get your life in order and for the people you care about to prepare for that. And I think being diagnosed with a terminal illness while faithfully enduring treatment and experiencing healing can help you re-prioritize your life to help you more effectively enjoy and invest the rest of your days.
When Pastor John Piper was going through treatment for prostate cancer he wrote a great article that has now been published as a booklet called “Don’t Waste your Cancer” which has been helpful to many people. Piper gives a list of ten ways to think and respond to the cancer and all that comes with it. Here is point #3 from his article:
#3. You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.
The design of God in your cancer is not to train you in the rationalistic, human calculation of odds. The world gets comfort from their odds. Not Christians. Some count their chariots (percentages of survival) and some count their horses (side effects of treatment), but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7). God’s design is clear from 2 Corinthians 1:9, “We felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” The aim of God in your cancer (among a thousand other good things) is to knock props out from under our hearts so that we rely utterly on him.
It seems that when you have cancer you are brought on to a stage in front of the people who care for you, people who treat you and people that want to avoid you because of their own fears. If you claim to be a Christ-follower many people will be watching to see how you respond to this life difficulty: will you be faithful to God and share His hope and salvation or will you shut down and turn away from God because He has allowed this sickness?
you can read more of John Piper’s article at http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dont-waste-your-cancer/
Here is a short audio on “What Cancer Can’t Do” that I would encourage you to listen to:
A.B. Simpson, the founder of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, struggled with a life threatening illness and sought God’s healing. He soon realized that God was supplying him the strength he needed to live one day at a time, needing to stay reliant on God to sustain and provide health for the day.
He wrote a poem which became a hymn called “Himself” and here is a video of an updated version of that encouraging song:
You can also read AB Simpsons “A Gospel of Healing” at http://www.cmalliance.org/resources/archives/downloads/simpson/the-gospel-of-healing.pdf
Many people wonder if they should go through treatment or just pray and trust God. Paul King wrote an article for Alliance Life Magazine called “GOD’S HEALING ARSENAL: Let the Spirit Guide Your Choice of Weapons.” Paul King writes, “…after being diagnosed with cancer, I asked the Lord for guidance, bewildered by all of the medical, nutritional, spiritual and alternative methods of treatment proposed by doctors and friends. “Should I trust You or go through with the radiation, chemotherapy and surgery? Or should I use alternative therapies? If so, which ones?” I heard as clearly from God as if it were audible. ‘Trust Me—and use radiation, chemotherapy and surgery. Use My healing arsenal.'” Read more of this article at http://www.alliancelife.org/article.php?id=436
John Soper wrote an article on “The Healing Power Comes From Jesus” that includes this list of four areas healing does not come from:
- Not From Our Faith: The power comes from Jesus. The power doesn’t come from faith. There is interaction with faith. Jesus challenged people to have faith. He even said, “Your faith has made you whole.” But faith was a response to the person of Jesus. It was power of Jesus and not individual faith that brought healing. If you believe the power comes from faith, there’s a problem. Faith is a necessary component but not what heals.
- Not From Within: Healing does not come from within us. It is not a matter of getting everything in balance. A great, satanic error of our day teaches that healing flows from inner peace or balance, some resource inside us, even if God put it in us. That simply is not true. Healing comes only from the hand of Jesus.
- Not From Faith Healers: Healing does not come from faith healers. There are gifts of healing. God uses prayer to raise up people who need a touch by Him. But the power is in Jesus, which means, if you need a touch from the Lord, you don’t need to look to a faith healer.
read more of this article at http://www.cmalliance.org/about/beliefs/healer
Here are some of my favorite Bible verses about trusting God for healing:
- Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:13-16 ESV
- And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. 1 John 5:14-15 ESV
- That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17 For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 1 For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. 2 We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 3 For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. 4 While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. 5 God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:5 NLT
- And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29-30 ESV
- My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. 22 For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh. 23 Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:20-23 ESV
- Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. 20 He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Psalm 107:19-20 ESV
- “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:7-11 ESV
- That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” Matthew 8:16-17 ESV
- This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. 3 For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. 4 He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. 5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. 6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Psalm 91:2-6 NLT
- Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. 3 John 1:2 NLT
Humble advice from article “What does the Bible say about coping/dealing with a terminal illness?”
“If you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, we would humbly offer this advice: make sure that you are a true child of God, having trusted Jesus as your Savior (Romans 10:9-10). Then, as Hezekiah was told, “put your house in order” (Isaiah 38:1); that is, make sure your will is ready and other important arrangements have been made. Use the remaining time God gives you to grow spiritually and minister to others. Continue to rely on the power of God for day-to-day strength, and, as the Lord gives grace, thank Him for your “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Finally, take comfort in Jesus’ promise of eternal life and peace. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
John Stumbo shares his near death experience recovering from a mysterious illness
Pastor John Stumbo was near death with a mysterious illness and miraculously recovered – here are five videos where he tells of his health and faith struggles. He is now the President of the Christian and Missionary Alliance
Inspiring Books about Heaven
Help! I’m Living with Terminal Illness
A small booklet helping people who are terminally ill, as well as those who minister to them
We don’t find it easy to face death, and the diagnosis of a terminal illness can be devastating. Yet every life has an expiration date. Written with a pastor’s heart for those suffering with a terminal diagnosis and for their family and friends, this booklet conveys practical advice, spiritual consolation, and, most importantly, an eternal hope which the dying process cannot diminish and death cannot extinguish.
Have you found helpful resources to help encourage people with cancer? Do you have a testimony of God’s miraculous help and healing of your cancer? I would be interested to hear your faith story.