This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long. This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long.
— Fannie Jane Crosby (1820-1915)
July 4th weekend is normally a wonderful time of the year—a holiday of fireworks, ball games and barbecues with family and friends. For me, however, last year (2021) was not a time of glad tidings over the July 4 weekend. I had just been informed two days earlier that as a result of my sudden hospital stay and with all of its battery of tests, the diagnosis was cancer—esophageal cancer, third stage. Nasty stuff!
“What does all this mean? How serious is it? Am I going to die from it? After all, I am eighty-five”—and a thousand other thoughts popped up unannounced in my mind. Ugh! And of course, as a Christian, my thoughts immediately turned to God. “Oh, God, do I ever need you now!” Time to really pray.
I have been a pastor for over 45 years and for most of those years I have encountered many serious infirmities in the people of the churches I have served and other places—including cancer. However, being in good health for so many years, I was usually on the outside of their pain looking in. I could sympathize but never empathize—totally. I could still pray, encourage, help, comfort and show compassion as a shepherd to His flock, but I have since found that when one graduates to empathy, which comes from personal experience, I found my heart deepen, especially for cancer patients.
Now I know what someone is talking about and what they are going through. I understand their fears and doubts and the physical discomforts of chemo and radiation—the lack of sleep, nausea, rashes, hair loss and always being tired. I can grasp how, all of a sudden the plans, dreams and future desires that have been suddenly put on hold.
But God is faithful, especially in our infirmities (Isaiah 53:5). On the morning of July 6, 2021, after I was released from the hospital and at home, I believe God impressed upon me as my wife and I were praying, a scripture during my regular daily reading of the Psalms. I have hung on to it ever since because I believe it was a word from Him. Here’s what it says:
“I know that I will live to see the Lord’s goodness in this present life. Trust in the Lord. Have faith. Do not despair. Trust in the Lord.”
— Psalm 27:13-14 GNT
To make a long story short, after 6 chemo infusions and 28 radiations, I received a great and encouraging report from a follow-up November 8, 2021 PET Scan, that showed the cancer tumor had been decreased by 85% and there was no sign of metastasis—plus the lymph nodes they were concerned about were no longer a problem! Then just a few weeks later, a scheduled endoscopy complete with three biopsies, showed no cancer at all in my esophagus!
So, does God still heal and perform miracles today? Absolutely! Does He answer when we pray? Yes, He does! But, as Dr. David Jeremiah so wisely stated, “Everyone has problems and we long for the desired outcome with all our hearts. It’s all right to pray for a certain outcome. It’s all right to pray repeatedly and earnestly for a certain outcome. But it’s always best to trust the Lord for His ordained outcome.”*
So dear saint, if this short treatise finds you or one of your loved ones in similar circumstances, let this be an encouraging word to you, as it was and continues to be for me:
“Trust in the Lord. Have faith. Do not despair. Trust in the Lord”
That truth is for everyone who believes! And thank you, God, for every single person who prayed for me, especially my wonderful wife and family during my whole ordeal. Without those prayers and blessings, I would most likely not be here to write this today. — Maranatha!
*Dr. David Jeremiah, Turning Points Magazine, 11/10/22 Weekend