My question is about encouraging people, specifically with the effects of cancer

I have lost a few family members and friends to this devastating disease. Once again it has reared its ugly head but this time a double shot. One is a very good friend who is 50 and the father of 2 teenage boys. He has been given only a few months to live. The other is a 6 year old little girl. The doctors have not determined a timeline for her but she has a brain tumor and cannot take chemotherapy. They hope to use radiation to slow the growth but there is no guarantee. I know God can heal both of them and also that they would be much better off in heaven. However, my concern is for the people they leave behind. How will they deal with it? What will be the perception of God’s goodness to a watching world. I always feel the need to have an answer or at least words of encouragement but in these situations I’m at a loss.

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I’m very sorry, @Lonnie, that you and your friends are going through this trial which may possibly end in separation. Your expression of love to them is precious, I am sure, even though it seems small in your estimation. Compared to the very scary ordeal they’re going through right now, it may be small, but your presence (and any other service like providing a meal or running errands) will help them keep one foot in front of the other. Job was better off when his friends (who saw how devastated he was) sat down in utter silence with him for seven days (Job 2:13). When they opened their mouth to lecture him, they messed up. It’s ok to be silent. Listen and pray. If they ask you, point to the many saints in the Bible who suffered and came through victorious on the other side. God’s love doesn’t mean lack of suffering, but it means He’s with us in our suffering. Although it hurts, God is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. We have all eternity to rejoice but only this short life to grow in holiness and to honor God.

Your question, “what will be the perception of God’s goodness to a watching world,” makes me think of Moses pleading with God not to wipe out his people in Exodus 32:12 and elsewhere. He used God’s honor before the Egyptians and what the other nations would think as the reason God should refrain from destroying them. Now whether this holds true for your friends or not, I don’t know, but you are free to pray this prayer before God as long as His honor is what you seek above anything else. If the Lord chooses to take them home (I am assuming your adult friend is a believer), remember God will defend His own name. My dad passed away from cancer some years ago, and I think my mom remembers fondly the ones who helped her clean, who drove him to the hospital, etc… Maybe someone with more experience and wisdom can bring greater light to your question, but in the meantime I will lift you up in prayer. Again this is very devastating, and my heart goes out to these teenage boys and the parents losing their little girl. My prayer to the Lord is that their faith would not fail and their hearts would not harden.
Check out Nate Bramsen’s videos on his journey with cancer (he serves the Lord full time). He called it RADIOACTIVE devotional series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1shvIF2qb8k

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I’m so sad to hear of your friend and this little girl. Thank you for your heart in reaching out for guidance through this painful process.
I agree with @ALandis about the small things. I know what you mean about feeling “at a loss.” In my experience of observing loved ones go through extreme suffering, it has been what we deem to be, the small things. The compassion, the love expressed, the listening to and the “sitting beside them in silence” while they wrestle that ministered to them the most. Just being there to offer, whatever is in your ability to offer is what is needed, accompanied with lots of intercessory prayer :pray: It’s heartbreaking :broken_heart:
I am lifting you and these loved ones up in prayer :pray:

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@Lonnie this is very heavy. I lost two cousins and recently their father, my uncle to cancer. I too struggle with what to say when faced with the question, “Why is there evil and suffering in the world?”

While I do not have the answer, I believe I can point you in the right direction. I am in Week 2 of the Why Suffering elective with the RZIM Academy. We are learning how extremely personal this question is. We are also learning some answers to give people who are dealing with suffering. I hope to have a better answer for you in the future :handshake:

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Dear Lonnie,

I find that the best thing you can say to a person who is suffering to to genuinely ask, “How are you doing?” And then listen. Their answer may not be what you would think.

In many ways, a Christian cancer patient can be one of the best witnesses to a watching world because when others would be despairing, the Christian has faith and hope that this suffering is not in vain, that God will care for those they leave behind, that death is but the doorway to seeing the God who is Truth and Love.

Suffering must be as long as there is sin in this world. But we have a God who can take the broken nastiness and even death itself and transform it into beautiful life. Often it is suffering that brings us closer to Him, not pleasure.

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Oliver, I am praying for all involved, and want to share hope with you in your time of despair.
Being able to share thoughts from both sides of the coin changes my perspective. Having had cancer a few years after I lost my sister who had lung cancer, and a brother who lost one lung due to cancer.
Prayer people certainly was at the forefront and knowing that was in place was a comfort
The uncertainty in our mind for me was the what if, for them, yes you trust God but what if, and who will take care of those left behind.
Compound that with the fear the children deal with that they try to hide to be strong for you.
I feel all three of us more than anything just needed to know that family and friends had our back whatever the outcome would be.
There is great solace having those with you that are solid. steadfast in thier commitment to you and your needs in family or whatever. The old truth actions speak louder than words is a great thing. In all this be that encourager of faith and deed for whatever they need, be that light for the world to see that love is an activity not just a word.

Philippians 2:1‭-‬4 NKJV
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Blessings of peace to you.
Mike

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