To a Sister with Cancer
An Apostolic Letter
Beloved Sister in the Lord:
I had planned to sit down and write a long letter to you about many things like homeopathy, etc., but this is not what the Spirit of the Lord leads me to do.
Instead I am going to ask you to do something which will, at first, seem totally crazy, but I want you to do it nevertheless.
I want you to go to the Lord in prayer, at least three times a day -- morning, noon, and evening (more, if you wish) -- and praise Him with your whole soul that you have cancer.
But before you do that, I want you to read these scriptures many, many times, until you have memorised them and can repeat them without opening your Bible.
This is the first and most important scripture. Memorise it. Now I will explain.
"Always be joyful. Always keep on praying. No matter what happens, ALWAYS BE THANKFUL, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
To praise the Lord is to give positive affirmation, expressing our approval of something.
If you can't understand what praise is, think of your children. Thank the Lord with all your heart for them. Just keep on thanking Him for them, acknowledging His goodness to you for giving you them. Spend at least 10 minutes just thanking Him for them.
As soon as you have done that, do exactly the same for having cancer. You see, God had a purpose in sending you children. He has a purpose in giving them into your care (and Harry's*), and noone else's.
There is a purpose for your living in Zürich*. Praise Him for that purpose. There is a purpose in your being married to Harry. Praise Him for that. There is a purpose for your being physically built the way you are. Praise Him for that. There is a purpose that you are Swiss* and not some other nationality. Praise Him for that. There is a purpose for your having cancer now. Praise Him for that. Praise Him for every situation in your life, past and present. Then read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 again.
You cannot expect God to work in you unless you have an attitude of constant thanksgiving and joy. Don't try to understand because sometimes understanding (or a lack of it) can become a real stumbling block in your relationship with God.
God has a perfect plan for your life. It was ordained before you came to this earth. There is intelligence behind everything. There is purpose in life's circumstances even if these circumstances appear to defy all reason. The Lord does give understanding, but it is His understanding, not human underatanding which tends to be centred in the wrong things. And because human understanding is wrongly centred, we tend to ask all the wrong questions.
Now, I'm not saying that you say: "Lord, it doesn't make any sense to me, but I'll praise you even if it kills me, if only you'll cure me of this cancer." That's not what I'm saying at all. That's not praising -- it's manipulating. No, we are to praise God with understanding.
"For God is the King of all the earth. Sing praises in a skillful psalm and with understanding" (Psa.47:7)
Thus understanding is not to try and work out the why's and how's of the circumstances of the problems we have. That's simply too big for us at this stage. We can't have the whole picture in this life, and sometimes we need the whole picture to understand the individual problems we have. Everything is part of a greater whole.
So what must we understand? We must understand that God is in control even when everything seems out of control. First and foremost, He wants us to understand that He loves us and has a plan for us.
sister, accept with your heart that God loves you and has allowed you to have breast cancer because He knows that it is good for you. Praise Him that He has brought breast cancer into your life. Do it deliberately and with the understanding of His love and His redemptive providence.
"And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into His plans" (Romans 8:28)
Now the natural man -- the fallen, fleshy man -- cannot understand what I am writing. Fleshy man is disturbed by such thoughts, even angered. "Since sickness is obviously something evil, how can I thank God for something that is evil?"
It is your faith in God that is on trial. Now I want you to pray a prayer something like this -- and to pray it as often as you desire:
But these can't just be words. You are going to have to mean them. Whether the Lord heals you so that you don't need another operation, or if He doesn't and you need a masectomy (breast removal) isn't important if you have your spiritual priority right. You must not expect healing, but praise Him that His will is done.
Dear Heavenly Father, I know that you love me. I am going to trust you that through this breast cancer you are working in my life what you know to be best for me. So I thank you for this illness, thank you that the doctors haven't yet found a way to cure my cancer. I thank you and praise you for your wisdom towards me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
This is the beginning...
Praising is not a magic formula for healing. It is a way of life. We praise God not for the expected results but for the situation just as it is. And we can do so confidently because this is what He tells us to do in His Word.
As long as we praise God with an eye secretly looking for the expected results, we're only fooling ourselves, and we can be certain that nothing will happen to change us or our situation.
Praise is based on a total and joyful acceptance of the present as part of God's loving, perfect will for us. Praise is not based on what we think or hope will happen in the future.
However....when we honestly praise God, something does happen as a result. It is not an empty action. When we praise the Lord, His power flows into our situation. And after a while, you will notice a change taking place around you. To begin with, if the praise has been genuine, a real joy and happiness enters into our situation. Or the situation may change. But this is the result of praise, and must not be the motivation for praise.
Praise (or even prayer, for that matter) is not a bargaining position. We don't say: "I'll praise you, or pray to you, so that you can bless me, Lord."
To praise the Lord is to delight ourselves in Him: "Be delighted with the Lord. Then He will give you all your heart's desires" (Psalm 37:4).
Notice the order here: We don't make a list of our desires and then delight ourselves in the Lord in order to get them. It's the other way round! Yet God does want to give us our heart's desires. And that includes healing from breast cancer.
When we sincerely accept and thank God for a situation, believing that He has brought it about, there is released into that situation a supernatural, divine force that brings about changes beyond what can be explained as an unfolding of natural events.
No wonder God's power and presence are near when we praise Him! He actually dwells -- inhabits -- in our praises!
"But Thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel" (Psalm 22:3).
Jehosophat was king of Judah, and one day he discovered that his little kingdom was surrounded by the powerful armies of his enemies -- the Moabites, the Ammonites and the Menuites. Jehosophat knew that little Judah didn't have a chance in its own might, and he cried out to God:
An important step in the act of praising God is to take our eyes off threatening circumstances and look to God instead. Notice that Jehosophat wasn't closing his eyes to the threat against his kingdom or prentending his enemies were't there. Neither should you pretend that you don't have a serious medical problem. But Jehosophat took careful stock of the situation, recognised his own helplessness, and turned to God for help. God said to Jehosophat:
"We have no might to stand against this great company that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, BUT OUR EYES ARE UPON YOU" (2 Chron.20:12)
You see, we don't have the power to deal with every circumstance in our life, so obviously the battle then becomes God's, not ours!
"Be not afraid not dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's" (2 Chron.20:15)
What a promise! We are to watch God at work in faith and in praise...
"You shall not need to fight in this battle; take your position, stand still, and see the deliverance of the Lord"
The next morning Jehosophat gave the orders to his army. "He appointed singers to sing to the Lord and praise Him in their holy (priestly) garments, as they went out before the army, saying, Give thanks to the Lord, for His mercy and lovingkindness endure for ever!" (2 Chr.20:11)
Try to picture this situation. A vast army of the enemy, and what comes out to meet them? A small band of singers praising the Lord while the small Judaean army stood still!
Who can understand such a thing? Not the mind of flesh, which says: "God helps those who helps themselves!" So what happened to Jehosophat?
We all know what would have happened if Jehosphat had decided to "play it safe" and send his own puny little army out to fight.
"And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the men...who had come against Judah, and they were slaughtered (by themselves)" (2 Chr.20:22-23)
When you are powerless against an enemy like cancer -- when all medical treatment has failed (and it often does), you must not be afraid to let go and trust yourself to God's power. Never say: "I don't understand -- therefore I don't dare to believe."
The only way out is the step of faith. We must believe that God's promises are valid, accept them, and dare to trust in them. ONLY THEN are we led to understanding! The scriptures are very clear on this point: acceptance comes BEFORE understanding.
The reason for this is simple. Our human understanding is so limited that we can't possibly grasp the magnitude of God's plan and purpose for His creation. If our understanding came before our acceptance, we'd never accept very much.
I'm sure you know the story of Joshua and the capture of Jericho. God trusted God. But are situations much different from his? The same trust is required of us all.
God wins victories in our lives by means and principles that look utterly contradictory and foolish to our human wisdom. We are told to trust Him, praise Him, and watch Him work. This is essentially how Jesus operated during His ministry in Israel. He openly admitted that of Himself He could do nothing: His part was to submit to His Father's will in perfect obedience, trust, and faith, so that God's power could meet the needs of the people.
Do you remember when Jesus was faced with the problem of feeding 5,000 people? How did Jesus pray? Did He plead with God to perform a miracle? No. Listen:
Well, you may object that that was Jesus, and not us. But that is an invalid objection. Remember, Jesus told His followers: "In solemn truth I tell you, ANYONE BELIEVING IN ME SHALL DO THE SAME MIRACLES I HAVE DONE, AND EVEN GREATER ONES, before I am going to be with My Father. You can ask Him for anything, using My Name, and I will do it, FOR THIS WILL BRING praise TO THE FATHER..." (John 14:12-13).
"He looked up to heaven, AND PRAISING GOD GAVE THANKS, and broke the loves....." (Mark 6:41-43).
Now I can't say anything about homeopathic medicine, sister -- that's not my province. I trust in better things. Maybe it will work, maybe not. What if it doesn't. What then? In what, or whom, have you trusted? The power of alternative medicine? Will that bring praise to God? Will what you do now build you up in the Lord in three or four week's time when you are cured, or have had a second operation? Are you looking to the future?
May the Lord bless you and may you discern His will for you right now. We are all praying for you. The saints in the east send their love.
25 December 1992
This page was created on 15 April 1998
Last updated on 15 April 1998
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