The Grace of Cancer

We heard a powerful testimony last night of how God has graciously given cancer to a man in our church who was in rebellion against God and estranged from his wife. With the news of his impending death, God also granted him a renewed heart of repentance. It was sweet to hear his present tenderness to the Lord set in contrast to his past hardness and impenitence. Of course hearing news like that brings mixed emotions: both joy and sorrow. But the joy far outweighs the sorrow. If God had left the man in his sin, but not given him cancer, he may have perished eternally. How gracious of God to give him cancer as a means of bringing him to repentance–even if it means his life may soon end. We pray that God would spare his physical life, but we especially rejoice that God has granted him spiritual life!

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5 Responses to The Grace of Cancer

  1. Danny Wright March 18, 2007 at 5:23 am #

    I find this post refreshing because of its eternal perspective. I don’t ever hear people speaking this way. If we forget about eternity, we loose our perspective and almost everything stops making sense. It reminds me of Paul speaking of the trouble of this life are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us, or fix your eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen, (Rom 8, and I think 1 Cor. 4:4 respectively).

  2. Phil Gons March 19, 2007 at 6:08 pm #

    Good thoughts, Danny. Yes, it is so easy to think only from the perspective of this world—the earthly and physical. Reminders like these are good for us and needed often.

    • Mark V March 27, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

      Thanks for the post Phil. I just finished watching the video on Zac Smith and also found this post interesting. However, I have a hard time saying God “gives” cancer to people. I have always thought there was a difference between someone’s cancer being in God’s will and saying it was God who gave it to him/her. I totally agree that God used the cancer to bring that man in your church to repentance and reconciliation but I am often reminded by my pastoral care professor (who has survived two bouts with leukemia) that we should not ascribe evil to God.

      • Phil Gons March 27, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

        Mark, good to hear from you. Thanks for your comment. I’d encourage you to read Calvin’s Institutes, I, xviii (esp. 1), where he discusses the “distinction [that] has been invented between doing and permitting” (Beveridge ed.), and Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Cancer.”

        I don’t hold to the view that God gives cancer and other diseases to people just because Calvin did and Piper does, but because the Scripture speak of things like cancer coming from God in very strong and active language.

        Consider these passages:

        Ex 9:8-12: The Lord sends boils.
        Ex 4:11: The Lord makes people mute, deaf, and blind.
        Dt 28:28: The Lord makes people mad, blind, and confused.
        Dt 28:59-60: The Lord brings affliction, sickness, and diseases.
        Dt 29:22: The Lord brings affliction and sickness.
        Dt 32:39: The Lord kills and wounds.
        1 Sa 2:6: The Lord kills.
        2 Sa 12:15: The Lord brings affliction and sickness.
        2 Ki 5:7: The Lord kills.
        2 Ki 6:18: The Lord makes people blind.
        Jb 2:10: The Lord sends evil (sickness, death, etc.).
        Jb 5:18: The Lord wounds and shatters.
        Ho 6:1: The Lord tears and strikes down.
        Am 3:6: The Lord brings evil (calamity) to a city.

        In many of these cases, the Lord acts in judgment on sin, but not all. In some cases He brings these things upon His people, and not always in response to any personal sin. Job is the classic example.

        I think Scripture warrants, even requires, that we think and talk about God as the ultimate actor behind both good and evil, even though He does often use Satan and others to accomplish His purposes.

  3. Russell February 4, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    Hi Phil Gons, I like what you say and would like to read more, could you suggest some sites etc. You see, I just don’t believe that God permits things, (oops, that girl is being raped, an innocent bystander) but that God has direct involvement in regards to his will. I feel it is blasphemous, to have an omnipotent God who doesn’t stop bad things from happening and has no authority therefore no responsibility.
    Regards Russell

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