Understanding Cancer and Stress
Against All Odds
When Mayo Clinic has given up, the oncologist is out of chemotherapy recommendations, and the specialists have given just a few weeks or months, people begin to turn to other methods. Many of our patients come to us in this grave condition, struggling to figure out why all their trust in contemporary medicine has left them hopeless.
There is always hope; wherever there is faith, there is hope. Unfortunately, many of us seem to have abounding faith but place our faith in the wrong hands. We have faith in our doctors, our medications, our nutrition, our stamina, our intelligence, and our choices. Such faith is powerless; it is fleshly, temporal and dead. What we place our faith IN is what gives faith grip on hope.
I’m reminded of Jesus’ encounter with the centurion in Matthew 8:5-10:
“And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
6And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
7And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
8The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
9For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
10When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”
The ‘great faith’ that was found in the centurion was complete trust and belief that God could do anything. The centurion still sought out Jesus and made his request known but it was in a spirit of humility under the knowledge of the holiness of God as evidenced by his comment, “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof…”
Do we understand authority as well as the centurion? God is sovereign and if healing is part of His sovereign will for my particular illness, then this encounter certainly gives us an understanding on how to approach God:
- God desires for us to seek Him, especially in our direst circumstances. Sometimes He allows us to go through dire circumstances to drive us to a dependence on Him never before experienced. Psalm 23 states, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…” because we are all going to experience grave, stressful, fearful, life-threatening times. Being a Christian does not excuse us from living in this fallen world and suffering the consequences of evil, but, “I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” it continues.
- The centurion left his home and his sick child to find Jesus in a repentant state of mind. He knew he was a sinner and there is no reference in the text that his comment, “I am not worthy…” was said anywhere but extremely public. He would have been hated by many of the Jews that were following Christ, begging Him for their personal needs, yet he was addressed by the Savior personally. Maybe it was because Jesus knew his heart but surely the passage tells us that the man “beseeched” Jesus. Do we beseech Him, repentant; acknowledge dependence, authority and power to the One and only God?
- Jesus has conquered fear, evil, sickness and death but it takes us putting faith in HIM to receive it. Many of the Jews to whom Jesus preached had placed their faith in religious accomplishments, their stature in the synagogue, or their knowledge of the law. It is the person of Jesus Christ, fully man yet fully God, His death, burial and resurrection that gives us hope. We might have new life, free of fear and torment, solely and wholly because of what He has already done. It is only faith in the living Christ that has any power over anything we may face in this world.
- Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” We have to understand that Jesus didn’t heal everyone and He was under no obligation to heal this man’s son. We will all die physically, some from cancer, others from traffic accidents. Our ultimate promise is eternal, not temporal. But we serve a God who desires our best (rightly defined) and for us to be free from demon influences that cloud our thinking and hinder our witness. Someone commented on a previous newsletter I wrote on God’s sovereignty that God would never be the author of sickness in a person’s life and He only wants us healed. Though there may be truth that God is not the author of sickness and death, believers still experience it -- Paul got his head cut off, the martyrs were horrifically killed and all believers died in due time. To think that we can demand from God is really placing oneself equal to God – the original sin of Eden.
- We are to, as did the Centurion, beseech God. The Centurion, in full faith that Jesus was God, with authority to heal by a command of His will, laid out his plea for his sick son. We do know that he beseeched Him; he asked, as we are also commanded to do in Philippians 4:6 to “… not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Jesus told us the same in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” The Greek verbs for ‘knock’, ‘seek’ and ‘ask’ are in the tense that means to continually, unceasingly do so until the door is opened or the answer is found.
- This world is full of problems, sadness, disease and suffering. But we are not OF the world anymore; we are born of the Spirit of God, children of the Most High, accepted as if Christ! When we bring our problems to God in prayer and petition know that you do so AS HIS CHILD. You are not some stranger inquiring of a wealthy king; you are the object of His inheritance, the favored son/daughter, the apple of His eye. He is not a god that sits up in heaven waiting for you to mess up so He can squish you with His big toe! He IS love! He doesn’t possess it; He IS it! God cares as much about every little struggle as He does our giant crises. He beckons us as a loving Father to cuddle on His lap; He is comforted by child-like hurts and kisses our bumps and bruises and all is better in our Father’s arms.
- Wherever you are in your faith-walk, whether you are madly in love with the Him or currently standing shaking your fist at Him, He still LOVES you. Repentance simply means that we change our mind about Him. He loves me. Even in my sin He still loves me. He longs for me to turn to Him and though I’m often far away, He runs to me, picks me up and holds me. All is well in my Father’s arms!
Never do I want a patient to put faith in me as a doctor, my methods or tools. Pray for me, yes, that God will use me, impart wisdom as to your care, but FAITH is reserved for the ONE who saves, against all odds, when our hope is gone.