I normally use this space to write some words of encouragement to you, but this week I could use some encouragement myself.
A few weeks ago my wife and I received the surprising news that she has breast cancer. Two days ago, we received the even more surprising news that it was not a Stage 1 breast cancer with one one lump in her breast, but that it is actually a Stage 4 breast cancer, with multiple tumors that have already spread to her lungs, liver and spine.
If you know Lana, you know that she’s the picture of health…she’s at her ideal body weight, she eats well, she runs 2-3 miles every few days, and her blood work is perfect in every way. She feels good and strong and healthy. Other than the lump in her breast that we discovered in December, and some minor pain in her lower back that started soon after that, we wouldn’t have even thought to have her tested for anything that could possibly be going wrong inside her body. Even when people do find lumps in their breasts, the majority of the time those lumps turn out to be harmless. But not this time.
I’ve prayed with many people over the years with many types of cancer. I’ve seen some people healed naturally, others supernaturally, and still others who haven’t been healed in the way that we had fervently hoped or prayed, including my own mother who died of breast cancer twenty-one years ago. But even in those instances where God hasn’t healed people in the way that I had hoped, I have seen God use even those those situations for good in the end. As good and miraculous as healing is, I know that there is still more that Christ offers us than just the healing that we desire. As the Apostle Paul says:
“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
I believe in healing. I’ve seen people healed with my own eyes, and through my own prayers, numerous times. God wants us to be healed and has wired our bodies to heal themselves as much as possible, whether it’s the coagulating of blood to heal a scrape on our skin, or the multiplication of white blood cells to fight off a raging infection.
But there’s also an enemy at work whose main goal, according to Jesus, seems to be to steal, kill, and destroy. As Jesus said:
“The thief comes only to steal kill and destroy; …” (John 10:10a).
But Jesus didn’t leave it there. He went on to say:
“… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10b).
The healings and miracles of Jesus are so numerous that the pages of the Bible can’t even contain them all. As the Apostle John said:
“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25).
And yet as miraculous and amazing and God-ordained as healing is, there are some things that are even more amazing… like forgiveness… and the peace that passes understanding… and eternal life.
When some men in the Bible brought their friend to Jesus to be healed, having pressed through the crowds and cutting a hole in the roof to get their friend to Jesus, Jesus said to the sick man,
“Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2b).
The religious leaders were shocked that Jesus would make such a bold statement, knowing that only God Himself has the power to forgive sins. But knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to them:
“Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” Then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home” (Matthew 9:5-7).
To Jesus, the forgiveness of sins seems to be just as miraculous, if not more so, than healing. And considering what Jesus had to go through in order to forgive us of our sins, it seems like forgiveness is quite possibly the harder of the two.
When Jesus Himself was headed for the cross, way too young and way too innocent, rather than fighting His death, He submitted to the will of His Father in heaven, knowing that His Father’s plans were even more glorious than anything anyone could have imagined. Yet Jesus still prayed that if their was any way possible, that His Father would take the cup of death away from Him so that He wouldn’t have to drink it. At the same time, He trusted His Father completely regardless of the outcome, saying
“…yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42b).
He sought for the peace of His Father above all else, and He encouraged His disciples to do the same: As Jesus told His disciples,
“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
And ultimately, what could compare to the promise of eternal life? As Lana told a friend this weekend:
“For me, it’s a win-win situation. Either I go to be with Jesus, or I get to stay here and be with Eric and my family.”
As Paul said,
“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body” (Philippians 1:20-24).
Jesus came to give us life to the full, both here on earth and in heaven forever. This is the hope that we have in Christ, and this is the hope for which He gave up His life.
So with both of those hopes in mind, can I ask for your earnest prayers on our behalf? We’re praying for healing and more, that God would heal Lana’s body completely and gloriously, and through it all, that God’s name would be glorified in ways that go beyond anything we could ask or imagine. Thank you so much.
Will you pray with me?
Father, thank You for revealing to us this cancer that is at work within Lana’s body so that we can know what to do next. Lord, we pray for healing and more, that You would heal her body completely and gloriously, and through it all, that Your name would be glorified in ways that go beyond anything we could ask or imagine. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.S. Thanks so much for your prayers. They mean the world to us. Here’s one of Lana’s favorite pictures of our family. Lana is second from the right, and I’m second from the left. Some friends of ours are organizing a special day of prayer and fasting for Lana and me and our family. If you’d like to join us in prayer, you don’t have to come anywhere, but simply pray for us throughout the day and night as you can. This special day of prayer will start on Monday, February 27th at 7:00 a.m., through Tuesday, February 28th, at 7:00 a.m. We’re in the Central time zone here in Illinois (GMT -6), but your prayers matter more to us than the time zone! If you want to let us know you’ll be praying, you can post a note on Lana’s blog that she’s just set up to keep people updated on her situation. I’ve included the link below. Please also pray for her tomorrow (Monday, February 20th) as she has to undergo two more biopsies on tumors in her lung and back, that these biopsies will be helpful in determining what to do next and not harmful in any way. Thanks again. Here’s the link to Lana’s blog:
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