This Week’s Sermon From The Ranch – A Picture Of Healing
|(Each Sunday, This Day’s Thought is blessed to share Eric Elder’s sermons from his wonderful ministry, “The Ranch“)|
A Picture Of Healing
By Eric Elder
The words “thank you” just don’t seem enough to convey to you how very much we appreciate all of your thoughts and prayers and words of encouragement over these past two weeks since I shared with you that my wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. How could we not cry and be touched when we get letters like this one from a man we’ve never met, but who is literally rallying the troops to pray for us from a naval ship in Japan…
“Hello Eric and Lana,
I just want to start this email off by thanking you for your “this days thoughts” messages. My Mom has been sending these to me daily and your messages have not only been helping me get closer to GOD but also helping keep in contact with my mom. You see I am currently stationed out in Japan and i can say that i do not get to go to services as much as i would like too but your messages help me out in major ways. It is very stressful out here sometimes but i can honestly say that within this last few week things have gotten a lot better for me and i have no doubt that it is because of your messages. So once again. Thank You.
When i read the message about how Lana has breast cancer i immediately stopped what i was doing and began to pray. I can only imagine how difficult it is to for you two to deal with that. I told your story to some of my fellow sailors and soldiers out here and asked them to also pray for you both. They agreed without thinking twice about it. We plan on sending your ministry some donations and as well as little care package for you two. Many times when we are out to sea or deployed we have had many churches and people send us care packages to help lift out spirits. Believe me when i say that it really does lift out spirits. So we decided that we would get some things together from here in japan to lift your spirits. Also i am currently getting the sizes of some people who want to wear the t-shirts(if any are left) and we are going to get a photo of it and send that to you too also.
You said that prayers came from Kenya, Ghana, Malaysia, the Bahamas, Qatar and Dubai. Well you now have prays from the troops in Japan too. We hope that our efforts encourage you to stay strong. GOD is going to take care of you. I, and the sailors and soldiers, will pray for you everyday just as you all pray for our safety day in and day out. Once again thank you for your messages you send out daily! Take Care and God Bless You Both.”
Wow! What a perfect picture of the body of Christ in action…people lifting each other up in their time of need. Here’s another one from a woman from South Wales who was praying for us while waiting for a flight in Hong Kong:
“I am sitting here in Hong Kong airport waiting for a flight to Bangkok and thought I would check your developments – Lana your courage and faith take my breath away. I said my prayers for you on the plane yesterday and I keep praying although I am not as familiar with the bible as the other folks! When my holiday is over I am faced with some tests but you have helped me already by your strong commitment to God. As we say in the South Wales valleys (UK) ‘fight the good fight with all thy might’. God Bless and keep you safe.”
Or this short note from a man in South Africa whose three short lines spoke volumes to me on our day of prayer and fasting for my wife’s healing…
“Your wife will live.
He is Jehovha rapha [the God who heals]!
greetings from South Africa.”
In fact, my faith was so touched by these words that I wrote them down on a piece of paper and took them to bed with me that night.
Right below those lines on my piece of paper, I added these words from Psalm 21, which another friend here in Illinois had sent me later in the day. She said she had been listening to Psalm 20 on her “Listener’s Bible,” praying through the words of this Psalm for Lana, as I had asked people to do. She was praying that God would give Lana “the desire of her heart,” which is not just to live, but to live long. She said she wasn’t paying attention to stop the Bible reading at the end of the chapter, and when it read these verses in Psalm 21, the next chapter, she shouted for joy. The words record what God did for King David when he first prayed that prayer almost 3,000 years ago…
“How great is his joy in the victories You give! You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.
“He asked You for life, and You gave it to him–length of days, for ever and ever” (Psalm 21:1, 2, 4).
Then on Tuesday morning, when our 24 hours of prayer and fasting were just ending, I added one more word to my paper. It was Merriam-Webster’s “Word of the Day” for Tuesday February 28th, which I’ve been getting in my inbox daily for many years. The words are totally random each day, but the word for that morning was anything but random! The word in my inbox was this:
Praise God! I’m holding onto each of these three thoughts as special reminders to me that my wife can live, that God can give her the desire of her heart, and that she can “live long.”
Some people might worry that I’m holding onto false hope. But with God, there is no such thing as false hope. With God, there is infinite hope! As the Bible says:
“For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
Believe me, I’m not naive enough to think that this cancer doesn’t have the power to kill my wife. It does. The first person I prayed for when I started this ministry seventeen years ago died three weeks later. And twenty-two years ago today, on March 4th, my own mother died of breast cancer. I know it’s a killer disease. Believe me when I say that I cried for 24 hours straight when I first heard the news.
But believe me, too, when I say that God gave me a picture of healing last week that renewed my faith and hope in Him that He could do the impossible in this situation still.
When Lana and I first found out the lump in her breast was cancerous, we scheduled an appointment with a breast surgeon to meet with him and talk about doing surgery. The appointment was three weeks away, as he was going to be out of town and his schedule was full. So we prayed during that three weeks that by the time we met with the surgeon, the lump would be gone and she wouldn’t have to have surgery at all. Since the biopsy showed that this was a solid mass in her breast that was growing aggressively, the chances of the lump shrinking at all, let alone disappearing completely were little to none.
Every day, Lana could feel the lump in her breast, about the size of a marble. And every few days, she would anoint it with oil and pray that God would take it away. But every day, it was still there. Then we got the report that the news was worse than we thought: the cancer had already spread from Lana’s breast to her lungs, liver and spine. The oncologist said she was going to cancel our appointment with the surgeon for the next week because it was no longer necessary. The tumors were now too numerous for it to make any difference to take out just the one lump in her breast. The news was devastating.
That’s when I sent out my note for prayer to all of you, and you began to pray for us. The next day, we went in for a bone biopsy and another conversation with the oncologist. She reconfirmed the diagnosis that she had told us before, and reiterated that our appointment with the breast surgeon the next day was no longer necessary.
But later that night, just before going to bed, Lana went to pray for the lump in her breast as she had done all along. When she went to find the lump, it had shrunk to the size of a BB, smaller than a pea. When she woke up again at 4 in the morning, she went to feel it again, and she couldn’t find it at all! It was completely gone…just as she had prayed it would be, as that was the day we were to meet with the surgeon! She woke me up to check it out, and I couldn’t find it either! Perhaps the words of the oncologist weren’t as dire as we had thought, but that they were prophetic: that she had cancelled the appointment with the surgeon because it really was no longer necessary!
I began to cry and praise God, saying that I wasn’t sure if I could even believe it or not, and not knowing what it meant about the other tumors throughout her body. But it gave me a picture of healing that matched the picture of healing I get from the Bible where the blind see, the lame walk, and the lumps are gone. I began to pray for Lana’s whole body, that God would take away every lump from everywhere and that He would complete this incredible work that He was doing.
I also put my hand on my own forehead, where I had had a mild but constant headache for the previous three weeks. I assumed it must be from the stress of the diagnosis. I rarely get headaches, and if I do, they last for a few hours at most. But this headache had persisted day and night for three straight weeks. It didn’t cause me severe pain, but enough to be noticeable, and it got worse when I leaned forward or put on my glasses.
After praying for my head, I returned to praising God with Lana. Unsure if we could believe this had really just happened, or if we might find the lump again in the morning, or what might be happening with all the other tumors in her body, we finally laid down to try to sleep again. As I laid down, I took out my Bible to read and put on my glasses. When I put them on, I expected to feel the pain in my eye again. But there was no pain. I leaned forward in the bed, and there was still no pain. I got out of bed, and leaned my head way down to my toes and there was still no pain. None whatsoever. The headache that I had felt for three straight weeks was gone, completely gone.
I began to cry again, not because of what God had done for my headache, but because it gave me yet another picture of healing and what that would mean for the tumors throughout Lana’s body. I finally fell asleep, praising God that no matter what, He had restored my faith that He could do anything, absolutely anything. I finally believed again that with God, nothing is impossible, even the healing of my wife.
When we woke up the next morning, we felt for the lump again, and after some time searching, we think we might have found it, much, much smaller than it had been for almost two and a half months straight. We contacted the doctor to ask if this was normal, for the lump to shrink like this. The doctor said that the biopsy from three weeks earlier could have caused it to become inflamed, and now the inflammation had gone down. When I heard those words, the pain in my head returned. I prayed:
“God, no matter what’s going on, thank You for giving me a picture of healing, a picture of what it can be like when you heal someone, suddenly and miraculously. I believe, Lord, that You can heal Lana in an instant, just as You’ve healed me in an instant of other things in the past, and just as I’ve seen You heal others. Thank You Lord for giving me a picture to hang onto no matter what happens next.”
Over the past week, my headache has come and gone, fading in and out, but no longer continuous as it had been. The lump in Lana’s breast has also seemed to come and go, some days she can find it, and it’s so very small, other days she can’t seem to find it at all. We’ve scheduled an ultrasound on the lump for tomorrow (Monday, March 5th) with the doctor who originally did the biopsy to see if the technology confirms what we are seeing: that the tumor has indeed gotten smaller or gone away completely. I, for one, can’t wait to see the results!
But I can also say that my faith this week has soared to the point where it doesn’t much matter what the doctor’s report says. What matters is that God has shown me that He can do anything, absolutely anything.
If you’ve been reading my messages for the past several months, you know that we’ve been studying the book of Romans and looking at the topic of “renewing your mind.” While I hope to return to our study of the book of Romans again soon, I must also say that this whole experience has been one intense crash course in the importance of getting our thinking in line with God’s. Every time we get a doctor’s report, or read an article on the internet, or hear a story from someone else who’s died of cancer, we have to take our thoughts captive, and ask God to replace our thoughts with His…that He’s the only one who truly knows how this will turn out in the end.
It’s not like I need God to heal Lana for me to continue to believe in Him. It’s not like He has to keep doing miracles for me to continue to believe in Him. I’m already in. I’m fully committed. I’ve signed on the dotted line and given my whole life to Jesus. And it’s not like I’m troubled of what will happen to Lana if she dies. I know she loves Jesus with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength, and she’ll be with Him forever in heaven and I’ll be with her someday there myself.
But what God has done for me these past two weeks, thanks to His help and your prayers, has been to renew my mind and believe in Him again that He can do ALL THINGS. That truly nothing is impossible with God. That God can work all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. And that God really can give Lana the desire of her heart, at any time and through any means: to live a long and full life here on earth, and then on into heaven forever.
What do the coming weeks hold for us? I can’t say for sure. But I can say this: I’m looking forward to the weeks ahead more than ever before, because I know I’ll be going through them with a God who loves me, and loves Lana, and loves you, more than any of us could possibly imagine.
I pray this week that you would know this love of God as well, and if you haven’t put your faith in Christ, that you would do it now, for the forgiveness of your sins so you can live with Him forever, and for everything else in your life, so you can live the abundant life He’s called you to live here on earth. Like the Apostle Paul, I pray for you, that you would know His immeasurable love and His remarkable power. As the apostle Paul said:
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21).
I look forward to sharing another update again with you next week, then I hope to return to our study of Romans again with renewed vigor of the importance of “renewing our minds.”
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for being Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals, and for giving us a picture of healing that we can hang onto. Lord, we pray that You would continue to heal Lana’s body, completely and gloriously, and through it all, that Your name would be glorified in ways that go beyond all we could ask or imagine. We pray also that You would use this situation to spark our faith to believe once again that nothing is impossible with You, no matter how dire the circumstances, and no matter how bleak the reports. We trust and believe that Your report is always good, for You truly can work all things for good for those who love you and who are called according to Your purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. My friend who helped organize the day of prayer and fasting for us still has some T-Shirts left that she’d be glad to send you as a reminder to pray for Lana, and also as a reminder that God is with you wherever you go as well. The shirts have a verse printed on them from Joshua 1:9 that says: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your GOD will be with you wherever you go.” Our friend would be glad to send you one of these special T-Shirts anywhere in the world for a donation of any size to our ministry. If you’d like to make a donation and get a shirt, just click the link below. Your gifts help us to reach out with the message of Christ in very practical ways every week, and our friend is glad to send you this gift as her way of saying thanks!
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