Today I went to the doctor to receive my biopsy results. These past two weeks have been a waiting game, and I’ve never been good at any game really—especially waiting.
Leading up to today, everyone has been asking how I’ve been holding up. By God’s grace, surprisingly well because He has used this little trip into the frightening unknown to refocus my heart on Him–my only source of comfort and security.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7, ESV, emphasis mine)
I went to the famous passage of scripture above like any good Christian in a tight spot would do. And while God spoke to my heart about not being anxious and comforted my soul with the promise that His peace would guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus, the two little words “with thanksgiving” stood out to me the most.
Why do I need to have thanksgiving with every request I present to God—even the “Father, I might have cancer—please don’t let me have cancer” requests? What does that even look like? I’ll confess, I have not become an expert in the past weeks, but here is how God is retraining my thinking.
Cancer is not my biggest enemy. Now, let me be clear. Cancer is an enemy. It destroys families, causes pain and great suffering, and claims countless lives. But it is only a symptom of our greatest enemy—sin. Cancer cannot send anyone to hell; sin can.
“For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23a, ESV)
Complacency. Pride. People Pleasing. Laziness. Those “little” sins left unchecked would lead me on a slow incline straight to hell.
“…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23b, ESV)
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-56, ESV)
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying our the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:1-5, ESV)
I think “but” is my favorite conjunction in the Bible. I deserve hell, but God being rich in mercy loved me with such a great love that He took on death in my place and defeated it! Now I have victory and freedom in Christ!
Praise God! That is why I can take every request to God with thanksgiving! Once I begin constantly preaching that gospel to myself, my prayers changed.
Father, I’m really not excited about the prospect of cancer. If it causes me not to be able to work, how will I be able to pay my medical expenses? Rent? Buy food?
But I deserve hell and you bought my ransom. Thank you, Father—this is as close to hell as I’ll ever be, and whatever storms you walk me through in the days you have ordained for me here on earth, they are all leading me closer to heaven.
But Father, I really don’t want to have cancer. I’m afraid of how painful treatments would be.
But I deserve hell, and you saved me. Thank you, Father that I will never experience hell! The pain I go through on earth does not compare to the suffering Jesus went through on the cross to secure my salvation. And since Jesus was a man of sorrows, he is not a far off God who cannot relate to my struggles—he is close and can intimately relate to anything I go through.
But Father, what if I don’t have cancer, and I’m not forcefully reminded every day that You are the only source of my joy and hope and security? What if I don’t have cancer and next week I fall back into my complacency? PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE have mercy on me and don’t let me turn so quickly back to all my comforts and forget you!
But I deserve hell, and Jesus saved me! You began a good work in me, and you will complete it. You will not allow me to stay complacent toward my sin. You have defeated sin and the grave, but while I’m here on earth I’m still at war with my sin daily. You will use whatever means necessary to remind me of that and to turn my gaze back to you.
And as God slowly transformed my thinking, I felt that peace that surpasses all understanding, and I rested in the assurance that God was guarding my heart and mind against my true enemy.
P.S.— The results are finally in, and the tumor they removed last week was benign! Thank you, Father, for that good news and for the uncertainty of the past few weeks that sent me running back to you!