God’s Help in Cancer
The Benefits of Knowing God While Facing Cancer
by Chris Lawrence
Facing cancer is probably the worst crisis you have ever known. Nothing brings so much uncertainty and fear to you and the people who love you.
For me, nothing has threatened my life, my very existence, like cancer has. Yet, through it, I have been reminded of how important it is to know God, to have a relationship with him. His help has been critical to my being able to walk through the dark valley of cancer with hope. I have often said, “I can’t imagine going through cancer without God.”
I know I am not alone. I have heard the same sentiment from other survivors who know God, and I want to make sure others know about this secret to facing cancer: God is the bedrock of hope.
You don’t have to “fight” cancer in your own strength—you can face it in the power he provides.
I have experienced what the apostle Paul also said, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”1 Yes, the journey still takes courage and grit. But you don’t need to face it merely with your own mettle.
You can face it with a hope that can never be snuffed out. As Psalm 71:14 says, “As for me, I will always have hope.” Let me explain more about what I mean, and how specifically God helps those who know Him.
The following is a list of benefits I have experienced from knowing God. Many of these aspects have been true ever since I began my relationship with him years ago. But through facing cancer, I have appreciated these truths about God at a much deeper level.
As you go through cancer, here is what God wants you to be certain of:
1. God loves you. Yes, God loves all people, but specifically I have seen how he loves me personally. He loves you, too, even if you have not yet experienced it. God promises in the Bible that nothing can take away his love, not any mistakes we make, and not suffering—not even cancer. While I will admit, when I was first diagnosed, I certainly had a lot of questions for God, I still did not doubt his love for me. As the Bible clearly spells out, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”2
2. God is in control of all things. Cancer is not some unstoppable force. He who created the universe and holds all the stars and planets in place, also sustains the cells in our bodies and has power over cancer. He tells us, “In him, all things hold together.”3 While I did not, and still don’t, completely understand why he allowed this suffering to happen in my life, I know he is in control. That is a deeply comforting thought.
3. God knows you. He says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”4 So much of the human experience, so much of what drives us, is our desire to be known. God knows us at a level that no one else can—more than we can even know ourselves! His knowledge of us has no limit, and I find a lot of comfort in being known so deeply by him. Not only that, he literally keeps a record of all of our pain and tears.5
4. God has a plan for your life. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”6 Throughout my life, I have experienced God’s direction, from deciding which college to attend, career to pursue and even who to marry. God has had purposes for me, from the big picture to the small details. Even if cancer wasn’t part of my plan, somehow it has been part of his plan for me.
5. God will take care of your family. One of the hardest truths for me to accept has been: what if I’m not around to love and care for my wife and daughter? That thought has kept me up many a night. Yet I have known that even if I am not around—and I would much prefer to be—God will still watch over them and lead them. It helps to think about how he took care of my wife long before we ever met, and I trust that He will continue to care for my family in the future.
6. Your eternal destiny can be secure. This can be true for anyone who chooses to have a relationship with him. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”7 Jesus clearly stated, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”8
7. God has limitless resources of strength, comfort and hope. God has helped me through so many challenges in my life, and certainly with cancer, too. For example, when my 10th round of chemotherapy started giving me intense anticipatory nausea, I prayed for wisdom. Soon after, a nurse gave me just the right advice: how to use an anti-anxiety drug that proved critical to help me endure treatment. There have been many other days, too, when I possessed a hope and joy that did not fit the circumstances—which I am certain was God’s help. He gives his unlimited resources to those who ask.
8. God understands your suffering. My wife and I lost our son a few years before my cancer journey began unrelated to this disease. I sometimes wanted to say, “God you don’t know what this feels like!” But then I remembered that he also lost his son—Jesus. Knowing this helped remind me that I was dealing with a God who is very acquainted with suffering. Jesus himself went through the torture of crucifixion. He understands both physical and emotional pain, and not just in a theoretical sense.
9. You don’t have to face cancer alone. Besides just understanding it, God promises to walk with us through the suffering. Nobody wants to suffer, but when we do, wouldn’t you rather have someone to go through it with? Even from initial diagnosis, I knew God would be with me through my journey, wherever it was leading, as he has done my whole life. In my highest high to my lowest low, God has always been with me, just as he promised, “Never will I leave you or forsake you.”9 This promise is for all who choose to have a relationship with him—a rock-solid promise that we can count on.
10. God uses all things for your good. Sometimes it’s sounds too good to be true, but it is: God can use any situation for good, even the worst. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”10 This doesn’t mean the journey will be easy, but at least there can be some result of good that can come from it! Even if it means that the suffering changes my own character to be more like him.
God has given me many other blessings, perhaps too many to list or to count. “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us.”11
The best part of these benefits, is that they are not just for me. They are for anyone who will begin a relationship with God.
If you knew me, you would find that I am a pretty ordinary person, from an ordinary town in a very ordinary place. I am no more deserving of God’s attention and love than anyone else. Maybe less so.
However, here is the truth: you are not meant to face cancer in your own strength. You are created to rely on the help of the one who created you! Here is how you can begin that relationship with God right now: Knowing God Personally.
Note: We are not doctors and we cannot answer your medical questions. However, we welcome your questions about finding hope and knowing God.
Footnotes: (1) Philippians 4:13 (2) Romans 8:38,39 (3) Colossians 1:17 (4) Jeremiah 1:5 (5) Psalms 56:8 (6) Jeremiah 29:11 (7) John 3:16 (8) John 14:3 (9) Hebrews 13:5 (10) Romans 8:28 (11) Psalms 40:5