One of my loved ones was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. I do not intend to name her here but I intend to share with you how this sad news all the more magnified the goodness of Christ.
He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20
The loved one I am referring to is the woman who mentored me and sacrificed a lot of her time and efforts for the purpose of pointing me to Jesus. She is my best friend. She is family to me. In fact, she is also the woman who discipled my mother and first shared the gospel to my younger sister.
I have only known her for three years but it honestly feels like she has been with me for more than a decade, teaching me and correcting me with biblical truths without asking for anything in return. She intentionally discipled me so I too will disciple others for Jesus. She was there with me in breakthroughs and victories and she was equally there for me when I wanted to give up in my walk with the Lord.
More than anything, she modelled to me how it is to be a true follower of Christ. I have seen how she persevered in the Lord despite trials and persecutions in and out of the church. I have witnessed how she approached different circumstances with meekness.
And even though she never told me what Paul said to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 1:11, I desire to imitate her as she imitates Christ. I truly thank the Lord for giving me a spiritual leader/mother like her.
When I first found out that she has cancer, it really did not sink in. I was probably trying to reject the news in my head, convincing myself that the symptoms and diagnosis aren’t true.
But later that evening, as I was about to sleep, the reality dawned on me. “Lord, it seems like this news isn’t aligned with the wondrous things You have promised.”
I started pleading to God in prayer. “Lord, please. I know You love her and I know that she’s been looking forward to the day she’d be with you there in Heaven. But Lord, please. Not soon. Not later. I want her to still be there with me on the day I’ll choose 12 disciples, too. I want to personally introduce them to her as we dedicate them to You. I want her to be there with me also on the day that our ministry area will have thousands of Christ-committed followers. Please, Lord. Not soon. Not later. Please heal her.”
Later that week, I was at a coffeeshop chatting with her online, updating her with personal things and ministry things. Along the way, she said to me, “Trudy, be a Timothy! And raise-up faithful disciples who will disciple others, too. We are called to disciple nations, Trudy. Send workers into the harvest field.”
The next day, we had the opportunity to have a Bible study together. She said to me, “Let’s look and trust Jesus and be all the more serious with our relationship with Him & His calling for us. Something great will come out of this.”
This is not the first time that she encouraged and reminded me of these things. But this is the first time that I have ever witnessed someone with cancer whose cancer is not an issue for her to stop loving and leading others for Jesus.
Neither cancer nor any circumstance should change the truths of who Christ is and who we are in Christ.
If I fix my eyes on the diagnosis in her and the circumstances she is in, I will reactively be in worry and fear. But if I fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, what I see is a God of hope and miracles.
The God we are praying to is the same God whose very words perfectly created the universe and aligned all the planets in it (Genesis 1-2). He is the same God who opened up a path through the sea to save His people (Exodus 14). He is the same God who saved Daniel in the lion’s den (Daniel 6) and made dry bones come alive (Ezekiel 37).
The God we are putting our hopes to every single time is the same sovereign God who gave His one and only Son out of His love for us.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? — Romans 8:32
I do not fully understand why God allowed cancer in the life of a wonderful person I love. But I am assured of three things: One, in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Two, God’s will is always good, pleasing and perfect. Three, with or without cancer, God is a good God and His love and compassion for us never changes.
I’d lie if I tell you that I am perfectly okay and that I do not shed tears when praying for her these days. But I’d also lie to you if I tell you that God isn’t teaching me beautiful things out of this. This news, no matter how seemingly heartbreaking it is, is still aligned with the wondrous things God has promised.
The most selfish, absurd and shallow thing that I could possible do right now is to doubt God’s goodness and question His love. But that is not what will please my Creator (Hebrews 11:1; 11:6). The Holy Spirit assures me now that I can rejoice in the Lord even in this (Philippians 4:4) and remain thankful because we belong to Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).