Last time I updated my blog, I informed the reader of a hopeful surgery that was set to take place April 18th for my Dad’s cancer. Friends, if you haven’t heard yet: that surgery was canceled shortly after my Dad took to the operating table. Once the doctors had started the surgery and made the first incision across his abdomen, they began to inspect my Dad’s insides and quickly realized that the cancer was worse than they had expected. Tumors were more prevalent than the last scan showed, and the procedure was deemed too risky; if just one large chunk of cancer remained in my Dad’s abdomen, it would grow back at twice the rate of before. So, that news surely took us all by surprise, and we were confused as to what the Lord was, and still is, doing.
In the book of Judges, there’s a story about a man named Gideon who’s confused by what the Lord’s doing, too. Gideon was an Israelite, but in his time, his people’s land had been overtaken by a people called the Midianites. Gideon is called by God to fight for Him and take back his land, but he’s afraid and it takes him awhile to fully trust the Lord. Initially, an angel appears to Gideon and says, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” But Gideon doesn’t understand why God would let another people take his land, so he says, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” I get that, Gideon.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to my good friend Mrs. Sandwell after my family and I returned from Pittsburgh. We were talking about my Dad and his cancer, and we spoke about the surgery and the confusion around what the Lord’s doing. She said something to me that I hadn’t thought of before; she said that she wasn’t too worried that the surgery hadn’t taken place. If God chooses to heal my Dad at this point, she said, absolutely no doctor could say that the cancer was healed because of any medicine or procedure or anything of the Earth- but the Lord would get all of the glory. If our prayer throughout all of this is for God to be glorified no matter what, than maybe this is indeed an answer to prayer, as confusing as it might seem in our limited human perspective.
What Mrs. Sandwell said reminded me of something that happened to Gideon later in his life.
Gideon goes on to lead an army of 32,000 Israelites to fight against the Midianites in Judges Ch. 7. Before they even went into battle, though, God spoke to Gideon and told him something crazy. He said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into your hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that their own strength has saved them, announce that any man who is afraid should turn around and go home.” After Gideon tells his army that message, 22,000 men leave him. So now Gideon is left with just 10,000 men to fight an army of 135,000. The odds are very much against him and his army, but God wants Israel to know that their own power can’t save them.
After Gideon’s army is reduced to 10,000, God tells him something else wild. God tells Gideon that he still has too many men, and He tells Gideon to cut the army down to just 300 men. Three hundred men. That’s 1/5 the size of my high school, that seems like absolutely nothing compared to what the enemy has. Then, God uses Gideon and those 300 men to defeat the entire enemy army to take back Israel. Because the army was so small and because every odd in the world was stacked against Gideon, the Lord got all of the glory from the victory. No one could say that these men were just ridiculously good fighters or that they got lucky, the glory had to point towards God.
If my Dad is healed at this point, no one can say it was good medicine or luck. No doctor can take credit for his healing, and honestly, it would be hard for any man to find a single logical or scientific reason for his life other than the Lord. This is my prayer, this would really bring Jesus into the spotlight more than any other opportunity for healing yet. It’s hard for me to see an outcome where God would receive as much glory as this possibility and prayer, although I know that even if cancer takes my Dad’s life, God will be glorified, and we try to praise Him regardless.
There’s a really great story in Acts that embodies the attitude I want to hold towards not only this struggle, but every other struggle in life as well. In Acts 5, Peter and some other apostles refuse to stop telling people about Jesus and his resurrection, and so they get flogged by a group called the Sanhedrin. After this, it says:
41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
This is so insanely awesome to me; the apostles are beaten because of Jesus’s name, and they can only rejoice. Pain and struggles strengthen our faiths and force us to draw closer to the Lord. As one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis, said:
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
We are a deaf people, and pain certainly forces us to draw closer to the Lord and each other.
This also isn’t to say that we shouldn’t keep pursuing options in recovery and healing with my Dad; God didn’t defeat the Midianites directly, He used those 300 men to kill them. God works in a lot of different ways, and we’re not giving up. Maybe God intends to use something that may seem small or improbable to heal my Dad- who knows.
Here’s the tough thing though: God might not heal my Dad. I hope He does, but He might not. But God will still be good, and God will still get the most glory; I just don’t understand how yet, and maybe I never will. I’m okay with trusting that the Lord will be glorified no matter the outcome of my Dad’s cancer, and my family can live in the confidence that Jesus reigns supreme and totally knows what He’s doing. I challenge you to live in that same truth no matter what you’re going through as well.