Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Journey in Faith Against Cancer - Part 2

This article is part of a series which might be better understood by starting at the first post.
Seek to Hear from God --- For REAL!

After surgery to remove the tumor, the doctors realized that the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes...and maybe beyond. Due to my age and the fact that my type of cancer was invasive, they recommended an aggressive treatment of chemo cocktails (that's what they called them) and radiation.

The week before chemo was to start, the doctors found an additional tumor in another part of my body. Tumor marker tests for that type of cancer (different than my first diagnosis) were elevated as well and they recommended another surgery with the thoughts that the cancer had spread. However, they wanted to start chemo right away and perform the additional surgery later.

A few days before chemo was to start, my husband and I spoke about the upcoming treatments. He asked if I was okay with what was about to happen.  I told him, "God hasn't told me to do the chemo and He hasn't told me not to. Unless I get specific direction from God on what to do, I am going to throw everything at my disposal against this disease."

Well, true to form, God began giving His directions the very next day. God told me not to proceed with the chemo and radiation. He stated that I was to pursue a natural plan of treatment (although He did not unveil what that was at the time).

You can imagine the shock and dismay of the oncologist when I advised him that Jesus had instructed me not to pursue chemo and radiation. Even many family and friends were horrified. There was tremendous pressure to follow the doctor's instructions (especially because my prognosis was not good without the recommended treatment). My indicating that God had not yet told me what treatment to take only added fuel to the fire.

Now, I will say this. I am not anti-medicine or against the medical community. I have no feelings one way or the other about whether chemo and radiation are appropriate treatments for cancer. Neither am I saying that people should ignore the advise of their doctors or ignore dealing with their disease.

What I am saying is, "You must be able to hear from God about what to do in any circumstance in life."

When initially deciding to proceed with chemo and radiation, I had every faith that Jesus would be with me. My family had made plans to shave off all of my hair and picked out wigs for me to wear. Although I understood that the chemo and radiation might be physically hard on my body, I was not nervous. I had faith in God. But then God spoke! Was it good to proceed with my initial decision with faith in God? Yes! But it was better to hear from God exactly what to do - and do that!

There is such a difference between deciding what to do and believing that God is with you versus knowing what to do because God has specifically told you. When God speaks, that removes all of the guesswork.  There is a song by Ginny Owens called "Wonderful Wonder" which contains the lyrics: "And I'll finally find my way to heaven's door, where I won't need my faith anymore."

When I first heard the song, these lyrics sounded almost sacrilegious to me. What did she mean "I won't need my faith anymore."  As if having faith was a bad thing?  But Ginny is touching on the fact that there is a difference between knowing and having faith. Afterall, faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. For a man has no need to hope for that which he sees.

We are to have faith in Christ, but my brothers and sisters, that is not all that we can have. Faith is the door through which we can enter into a much more intimate and personal relationship with Christ. You can take a course in life and believe that God is with you but you can also hear from God what to do and know that you are doing His will.

If we think believing is the end of the journey, then we cut ourselves short and can potentially miss out on what the Lord has in store for us. Don't seek to just have faith, but seek to hear from God and be led by Him in all things.

Faith can even be misplaced. I had faith that God would be with me through the chemo and radiation. But had I gone forward with that, I would have been proceeding with something God did not want me to do. We cannot just assume that God is on board with and is blessing our plans apart from direct guidance from Him. We can have sincere faith and still be sincerely wrong.

Upon hearing my decision, my doctor was quick to tell me that he too was a man of faith. However, he had a very hard time accepting that Jesus had spoken to me and given direction contrary to his. The more he tried to dissuade me, the more hallow his proclamation of faith seemed.

How is it that someone who professes to believe in God, finds it so inconceivable that God had spoken? Further, why would someone who claims to have faith in God try to discourage me from doing what God said? It became apparent that "faith" to my doctor meant something completely different than what it meant to me.

The doctor's response was very similar to others I would speak to, including many professing Christians. It was apparent that many people had more faith in the world than they did in God. It was almost as if they were saying, "Yea, I believe in God too and faith is good, but this serious! This is a matter of life and death!"

In the world, "faith" is simply a religious, feel-good codeword we slap on the end of our own plans and desires in order to invoke God's blessings (we think). "I want a BMW and I just have faith that God is going to give one to me." "Yes, I am a having sex outside of marraige, but I just have faith that God knows my heart." "Yes, I know my sister died in sin, but I just have faith that she is in Heaven."

Such "faith" has virtually nothing to do with aknowledgement of truth and obedience to the True & Living God. It has absolutely no substance or power because it doesn't bring one into a relationship with the living Christ. It leaves you knowing about Jesus instead of knowing Jesus Himself.

Many (including some professing Christians) just could not accept that God had spoken. Some downgraded the conversation to say that we must all follow that "little voice within us" and how we have to "trust our own bodies" as they espoused principles of self-healing. Alternately, people would try to convince me to follow their opinion of what they felt God wanted me to do.

Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27) Yet most people not do not believe that. Share with someone that you have heard from the Lord - including many professing Christians - and they will treat you like you have lost your mind.

Why was I rejecting the advise of medical experts? Why was I taking chances with my life? Didn't I understand that God had given doctors the gift of treating sickness? Why don't I get a second or third opinion, have more tests? What if what God said didn't work? All of the questions and the struggles to accept my decision to obey God boiled down to the fact that these individuals did not believe that Jesus had spoken and that He would do all that He said.

"Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8b

"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Hebrews 11:6

Would I believe a prognosis of death from the world or would I venture forth into the unknown path God was leading me towards? Just where (and in whom) was my faith based? This is the lesson I learned in this experience...and just one of many.

Read the next part of the article

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate your article...It's so true that our walk with Jesus is personal and lonely at times. He was totally forsaken by everyone on this earth, and yet, He was not alone....The Father was with Him....Be encouraged to continue the real walk of faith.......Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).


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