Tag Archives: healing

People with their hands raised

Surrender to Win

(A six minute read)

There was an obituary this week of someone who died from cancer. Yet again, the deceased was proclaimed to have ‘lost a battle’ with cancer. Why is it about winning or losing? Why is this dichotomy even mentioned at all?

Cancer treatment consumed my attention for eight tough months in 2019. But it also consumed my prayer life, and the prayer lives of many who love me. Our declaration was this: ‘Cancer is not my master. Jesus is my Master.’

Very simple yet very powerful. It reminded me of my identity and kept my eye on the solution instead of the problem. This, I have found, is the essence of evangelism.

Please – feel free to come to me with your problem. But when you are done describing it, then let me empathize, so we can turn our attention (through prayer) to the one who can solve it, the one who saves us. This standing at attention is also the essence of evangelism.

In the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus says the shepherd leaves the other 99 sheep and goes after the lost one. That’s what he did when he rescued me all those years ago. If you know Jesus, you know that’s what he did for you too. If you don’t yet know Jesus, ask sincerely, repeatedly and he’ll come and do it for you too.

That’s right. You have to surrender to win.

Meanwhile, Back to Cancer

Since my own deliverance from cancer two years ago, God has brought me in contact with an inordinate number of people who either are being treated for cancer or have someone dear to them who is. I share my healing story, and we pray. This is so we tell God we recognize his innate goodness, and thus can make the demand that he do it again. We have the authority.1

But this authority doesn’t come because we do spiritual battle to obtain victory. It’s because we recognize Jesus’ victory at the cross, and so we begin there. We surrender to him in order to release his victory into the earth.

We surrender to win.

This is why my teeth grate when I see that term ‘lost a battle with cancer’ because this warfare language diverts us from the truth. It distracts us from where we should focus: on the healer instead of on sickness. Focusing on disease makes the disease into the most powerful thing. Focusing on the healer reminds us of the most powerful Person. It keeps us right-side-up. It keeps the disease from infecting our identities as well as our bodies.

If I speak of ‘battling cancer’, it implies I think cancer has a good chance of winning. Or, that I somehow fail if I feel unwell, or ultimately don’t live. Likewise, ‘fighting cancer’ implies that it’s a battle I chose to engage in. ‘Surviving cancer’ makes it sound like that outcome is somehow merely a product of luck or coincidence or random chance.

I grieve with anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer, but I don’t find the idea of dying from it in any way ennobling. It’s not my place to fight, but to surrender.

About Identity

Many people refer to cancer as ‘my cancer’, as though they’ve taken ownership of it and grafted it onto their identity. They’ve allowed it to change how they see themselves. I know one man who bought a personalized car license plate that read ‘Sur5or.’ He couldn’t wait to have people ask him about it!

Truth: receiving a cancer diagnosis and getting treatment took up gross amounts of my 2019, and made life painful and inconvenient. Further truth: this was far from the most important thing to happen to me that year. When I’m not praying with someone about it, I rarely think about it at all. Ultimate truth: Cancer is not my master. Jesus is my Master.

More Unhelpful Ideas

Those of us being treated for cancer are described as ‘brave’, as though we had a choice about being treated.2 Calling it ‘The Big C’ brings in the Bogeyman Effect, meaning that cancer is a malevolent force that’s incapable of being tamed or controlled.

And then there are the day-to-day phrases, which are also unhelpful. ‘Coping’ implies that overcoming cancer is somehow not possible, and that I’m in a passive, powerless state.

To ‘deal with it’ says that it’s a nuisance that cannot be controlled.

‘Living with cancer’ tells me that it’s an invited guest.

Finally, for me to say ‘I have cancer’ has me stating that I’ve taken ownership of it. I refused to do that.

December 22, 2021 will be the two year anniversary of the day the Lord told me unequivocally that I was healed. Cancer will never plague me again, I’m certain of it. On the other hand the doctors will never proclaim that I’m ‘cured’ or ‘healed.’ They will only edge out far enough to say I’m ‘in remission.’

I find no freedom in that. ‘Remission’ keeps me in a waiting room and off the train. I remain captive to the idea that cancer will never go away, that it may be lurking around the corner. I’d be no healthier than the paranoiac who compulsively peeps outside to see who might be watching.

Even if I were to say that I ‘beat cancer’ there’s still an assumption that somehow I waged a battle I chose, that it was a war of my choosing. As I mentioned, my best option wasn’t to fight, but to surrender.

That’s the Biblical way. I can’t successfully attack the devil, I can only ‘stand’ against him, or ‘resist’ him3.

Speak Life Not Death4

Warfare words tell me nothing more than I’m afraid of cancer. I once was approached by a friend who ‘caught a cold.’ ‘Why did you have your hands out?’ I asked. The medics tried to give me a diagnosis of cancer, and I refused to accept it. I was treated at Guy’s Cancer-Free Centre5 in London, whose logo proclaims simply, ‘Guy’s Cancer.’ Fine – I didn’t want the cancer. I gave it to Guy.

I have yet to say ‘I have cancer’, ‘I had cancer’, ‘I am (or was) a cancer patient’. I would certainly never label myself a ‘cancer victim.’ It’s definitely not ‘my cancer.’ But I tell the truth. I tell people ‘I was treated for cancer.’

Crisis provokes one of two responses in the human heart. Face up to it, or run and hide. Here is our choice then: Turn to God and lean on him, or turn away and blame him for my problems. Faith or fear. Surrender, or fight. Those are my only options. There is no ‘wait and see.’ One of them always comes out in the end.

I decided in 2019 that I must embrace the way of faith, and reject fear. My expectations were to be set by God’s promises. He hadn’t carried me this far in life to drop me now. I spoke His truth, even when I didn’t believe it. I relied on Scripture, not medical journals for direction.

I surrendered, and won. I won the moment I surrendered.6

1. See Luke 10:19, Mark 16:17-18, Acts 1:8 and Acts 3:1-10
2. I guess we actually do have a choice. Christian Scientists take note.
3. See Ephesians 6 and 1 Peter 5
4. See Mark 11:23, Proverbs 18:7, 20-21
5. It’s actually named Guy’s Cancer Centre but I didn’t go there to get cancer, I went there to get free.
6. Psalm 37:5

This essay is adapted from my book The Lie Called Cancer.

Photo: Luis Quintero via Pexels

Boy with pony

There Are Ponies Everywhere

(A seven minute read)

In my soon-to-be published memoir, Masterpiece (A Love Story), I talk about ponies, and how there are ponies everywhere. Ponies are the obsession of Little Johnny, and he wants one more than anything. One day when his dad had a truckload of manure delivered as fertilizer, Johnny started digging through it. His logic was, with that much manure, there must be a pony in there somewhere!

This may be an odd way to introduce the topic of divine healing – like the healing Jesus did – but bear with me.

Ponies are real, and they are all around us. I see them everywhere. But sometimes, they are not in the guise I expect.

Johnny doesn’t see a problem. He doesn’t see a load of crap. He sees an opportunity – the possibility of his wish come true. Johnny has faith.

In several Bible passages, we have Jesus instructing His disciples to have faith. Faith is the key to getting things done in the kingdom of heaven. Faith brings forgiveness of sin. Faith brings eternal life. Faith moves mountains. Faith brings divine healing. Faith raises people from the dead.

Faith comes from God. The opposite of faith, fear, is from the devil. It’s usually camouflaged as one or more of these: doubt, distraction or despair. They are powerful inducements to turn away from God and thus, be afraid.

Doubt, distraction and despair are simply variations on the same tired lie the devil has told since the very beginning: there is some problem or condition in my life that God can’t handle.

It’s a sorry lie, but sorrier still is the fact that I sometimes fall for it, even after all I’ve been saved from. I’m embarrassed to say I too often believe this lie. It happens when I allow what I see with my eyes to take precedence over what I know to be true in my spirit.

Even if things might look grim in the natural world, there is always something miraculous happening in the supernatural. So – where do I cast my eye? Do I stop with a pile of manure or do I search for the pony?

Changing my field of view from poop to pony began by substituting one word for another. I used to ‘have to’ do things. I have to go to work, have to service my car, have to do my taxes, have to get a root canal. Everything was a task, a burden, a problem.

Today I ‘get to’ do these things, so these same things become an opportunity or even a blessing. Why? Because I have a job! I am affluent enough to own a car! I am a productive enough citizen to be taxed! I live in a time and place where modern medicine can fix serious dental troubles!

You see? There are ponies everywhere, and we find them if we stop looking at the manure.

This essay is taken from a piece I originally wrote for Masterpiece. That original version was penned while I lounged in a chemotherapy suite at Guy’s Hospital in London in September 2019. I had a cannula in my right arm allowing toxic substances to be pumped into my circulatory system.

So here’s a case where things might look grim in the natural world. But what is the miraculous thing happening from God’s point of view? Where is the opportunity? Where’s the pony?

The cannula was my regular companion for many weeks because I was being treated for bladder cancer. I was definitely in need of physical healing! While I certainly welcomed supernatural intervention on Jesus’ part, and received a massive amount of prayer for it, I also recognized my healing path may have lain in the natural.

Or, as it turned out, be a combination of the two.

As I went through 15 cycles of chemo and 32 rounds of radiotherapy, no matter what happened, or how I felt, I never ever doubted the Healer. God is good. He gives ponies, not manure. I refused then, and will always refuse to adjust my understanding of God’s goodness downward to ‘explain’ any circumstance.

As I post this today, I have 100% faith that I’m healed and cancer-free. An MRI and CT scan to be done in a few weeks will verify this, and then the specialists will have caught up with what God has already done in my body.

Cancer patients often have many questions, even after they are apparently healed, or are ‘in remission’ as the doctors say. They’ll never say a cancer patient is healed for good and all, those doctors. Because in the medical world, any worst case is always possible (and then there’s the threat of a malpractice suit, but I digress).

Doctors have lots of statistics showing how cancer could reoccur, that I might need chemotherapy again in the future, or radical surgery to re-plumb my insides so I pee through a stopcock in my bellybutton.

None of that matters at present. It only leads to doubt, distraction and despair. I’m too busy living to worry about any of it. It’s not a today problem.

Future decisions aren’t to be made yet. And it’s not time to find any ponies there. But God has them stabled, and waiting for me. When the time comes, if it comes, He will give me the grace to find them, and the strength to ride them, and the joy that comes from being saddled up as a member of His posse.

Dare I say, I got to go through cancer treatment so that God could show me something I wouldn’t have learned otherwise? Time will tell. But I will lay long odds that this is true. How can I say this? Because I understand the nature of God. He can do me no wrong.

So I continue to pray, and bless the prayers from others made on my behalf. And I wait in the mystery of what’s to come, and bask in the freedom it brings. I’m not responsible for the outcome, nor are the doctors. It’s all up to the Lord, and so I leave it with Him, where it best resides.

Russian riding horse

Be Meek!

(A four minute read)

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth’. [Matthew 5:5] Be meek!

Meekness does not mean weakness, rather the strong who place themselves in a position of weakness, where they persevere without giving up. The Greek word Jesus is quoted as using, [πραυς) means “tame” when applied to animals. These animals have not lost their strength but have learned to control the destructive instincts that prevent them from living in harmony with others.

You and I have been created as powerful beings with free will. We can encourage life in others, or we can bring death. We can choose to love, or do evil. It is the taming of our urges to harm, to dominate, to lash out, to criticize that make us meek. We are like a war horse that is perfectly tame under a warrior’s hand, and yet ready to immediately exercise great power on command.

When Jesus taught ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth’ [Matthew 5:5] in His Sermon on the Mount, He was speaking to a crowd that well understood ‘meekness’ as ‘power under control’. Meekness did not equal weakness, but submission. It meant acting under proper authority.

So what was Jesus telling his disciples to do? What were they to submit to? What power was he referring to?

He was referring to His own example of power under control. Just as He submitted to His heavenly Father, members of the crowd were to submit to Jesus.

This great sermon came early in Jesus’ ministry. As context, Matthew’s account finds Jesus preaching and ‘healing all kinds of sickness and all sorts of diseases among the people’. [Matthew 4:23b] His fame spread as rapidly as a person could walk or ride from town to town, conveying the amazing news: the blind see, the deaf hear, the lepers are cleansed and the lame walk!

Soon, he was inundated with ‘great crowds’ that were hard to control. Indeed, Luke records ‘The whole crowd tried to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all’. [Luke 6:19]

How many are in a ‘great crowd?’ Hundreds certainly, thousands likely, tens of thousands possibly. considering some came from up to 50 miles away – many days on foot. And, He healed them all, with His meekness, His ‘power under control.’

The crowd came with expectation for His words, but especially for His healing power. As He always did, Jesus demonstrated to the crowd by His lifestyle how they themselves could bring the kingdom of heaven to earth:

  1. Be alone with God the Father and get into relationship with Him: ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel’. [Mark 1:15b-16]
  2. Submit to Him through prayer: ‘But you, when you pray, enter your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret’. [Matthew 6:6a]
  3. Through His presence, release the power of heaven into the earth: ‘Heal the sick who are there and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’. [Luke 10:9]

The Scripture accounts record this process. Remember, Jesus the Son could only do what God the Father was doing. He was like any other child, looking to a parent for instruction and direction. ‘Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do. For whatever He does, likewise the Son does’. [John 5:19]

To maintain this connection with the Father, to ‘see what the Father was doing’, Jesus would often go off by himself to pray. On one particular night, before delivering the Sermon on the Mount, he spent the night in solitary, then He named 12 of His many followers as Apostles.

After that, ‘He came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His disciples an even larger group was following Him) and a great crowd of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and be healed of their diseases’. [Luke 6:17]

What is that last bit? People came to hear Him and ‘be healed of their diseases.

We think of the Sermon on the Mount as being full of great teaching, but let us not forget that for his followers, in addition to being edified, ‘they were healed‘. [Luke 6:18b]

They all followed those same three steps. They got alone with God-made-flesh, Jesus, submitted to Him,and then saw the power of heaven released. Their sicknesses were healed, ‘including those who were vexed by unclean spirits’. [Luke 6:18a]

Did this happen because they were pushy or aggressive? Or because they made some special sacrifice or said some special prayer? No – it was because they were meek. They placed themselves under their Master’s authority.

Scripture emphasis mine.
Image: Ponyart, via Wikimedia Commons