Cancer Patients – Blindsided
It is typical for cancer patients to respond with shock and disbelief when first diagnosed. Suddenly there’s an urgency to distance ourselves far away from the unimaginable. . .we were personally attacked without warning! We long for fairness so we cry, “Foul! Cancer hit me when I wasn’t looking. Life’s unfair!” We’re too young, we’re rarely sick, or we’ve already lost a dear friend or family member to this disease. We react as if blindsided and become confused.
Life’s unfair. Cancer’s unfair. We become confused when we associate God with either one. God is sovereign over cancer and what He accomplishes surpasses life itself. In Disappointment with God,1 Philip Yancey writes about a man named Douglas whose wife was battling metastatic breast cancer. During this period, a drunk driver permanently disabled Douglas, leaving him in pain and unable to work full-time. Instead of expressing disappointment in God, the husband told Yancey:
“I have learned to see beyond the physical reality in this world to the spiritual reality. We tend to think, ‘Life should be fair because God is fair.’ But God is not life. And if I confuse God with the physical reality of life -- by expecting constant good health, for example -- then I set myself up for crashing disappointment. If we develop a relationship with God apart from our life circumstances then we may be able to hang in there when the physical reality breaks down. We can learn to trust God despite all the unfairness of life.”
Cancer Patients – Shortsighted
Cancer places everyone on equal ground. Regardless of education, finances, or lifestyle, we are all candidates for cancer. Cancer is neither a punishment for bad behavior; nor is good health a reward for good behavior! The disease, however, does “reward” every individual with the opportunity to concentrate on the important things in life.
In the midst of treatments and tests there is time to focus on promises, resolutions, and commitments. We become shortsighted when we ignore the daily advancements in easing pain, prolonging our lives, and suppressing the disease. We must make a resolution to take our eyes off the “Big C,” and to commit to refocusing on the power of the letter “P” -- people who care about us, such as doctors, friends, and family. We can set our sights on pursuing an attitude that is positive. A prayer of thanksgiving can unleash the powerful promises of God. “...By his mighty power at work within us, [God] is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope” (Ephesians 3:20).
Cancer Patients – Distorted Vision
It is common practice for physicians to give “the odds” regarding success rates, recovery, and procedures. Melissa was a beautiful 20-year-old diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Chemo gave her an 85% recovery rate. But a month later the tumors were growing. A bone marrow transplant offered a 35% cure rate with a 15% chance she would be rid of Hodgkin’s. Following a relapse that resulted in pneumonia, Melissa was given “about zero” chance of surviving.
We all deal with percentages...examinations, sports, our children’s growth rates. Some percentages are even distorted or manipulated to serve a purpose. But God doesn’t need an advantage to accomplish His desired results. When the cancer patient gives up control, only then will they realize that an unfailing God is in complete control. “The unfailing love of the Lord never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction” (Lamentations 3:22). Exactly one week after a night of prayer, Melissa began breathing on her own. Now in her second year at college, Melissa explains, “Once you get to that lowest part in your life, where there’s nothing you can do, you learn that He is in control, and you give it all to Him and life is so much better.”
Cancer Patient – Renewed Vision
Instead of seeing ourselves as diseased, defeated, or disquieted, our vision needs to be renewed. We must realize that our lives are regarded as highly significant. When we realize God’s plans for us (Ephesians 1:4–5) our vision is renewed and we see ourselves as God sees us (Romans 8:38–39).
1 Philip Yancey, Disappointment with God (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), 182-184.
What is your response?
Yes, today I am deciding to follow Jesus
Yes, I am already a follower of Jesus
I still have questions