There’s an old saying about the military. There are no atheists in fox holes. I don’t think that’s true. I’m sure those living the nightmare of combat, like the living nightmare of cancer treatment, both have their faith weakened or strengthened, depending on the person.
I asked Pierre Eade a friend of mine and Pastor of Outreach at the Washington Crossing United Methodist Church in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, for his perspective on dealing with cancer and faith. The Crossing has a healing ministry where you can come and receive prayer by trained prayer team members. Pierre is also a writer and his thoughts on faith and the Christian life can be found on his website: www.christiangrowthnetwork.com
“It’s really interesting because for some, pain and suffering actually draws them closer to God and deepens their faith. For others, it’s a deal breaker. So what gives? I think a lot of it comes down to what a person believes about God in the first place,” Pierre says. He says it depends on your perspective and expectations. “If you believe God is supposed to make all of life comfortable and without suffering and pain then anytime you face a hardship, you may throw in the towel on faith in God. However, if you start off with a belief that God is good, loving and redemptive, but that we live in a world that is corrupt, then pain and suffering can actually strengthen your faith. You then look to God to sustain you in your trial or tribulation instead of blaming him for it.”
Should people of faith rely on help from God, and not from the medical world, to treat their cancer? Pierre doesn’t advise it, but it’s a personal decision. “Spiritually speaking, I don’t believe that using modern medicine and having faith are mutually exclusive. You can go have a surgery and pray it goes well. You can take medicine and pray for healing at the same time,” Pierre says. He claims those in his church who receive prayer in addition to medical help have a much quicker rate of recovery.
“For this reason, I would say that it is in a person’s best interests to always involve God and prayer in their quest for healing. I know of many people who choose to go with prayer and not use medicine. For some, it works out and God heals them supernaturally. For others, it doesn’t go as they had hoped,” Pierre says, “Each person needs to discern the route God would have them take.”
Pierre is not unfamiliar with the medical world, having worked in the pharmaceutical industry for twelve years. Despite all the advances, he doesn’t see man ultimately preventing death. “Man will never find the cure for death itself. Death is a spiritual issue, not just a physical one,” Pierre says, “Can medicine prolong life? Absolutely. Will medicine provide eternal life? No, it will not. God alone makes that possible and he does so through his son Jesus.”
Pierre says man cannot cure all ills by ourselves, no matter how hard we try. “Some people who do not have faith in God are searching for answers exclusively in medicine for their own needs. I hope they find healing. God will be happy for them if they do. God loves everyone and wants what is best for us, even those who don’t love him or think they have a need for him. That will never change,” Pierre predicts. “More than anything else, God wants each of us to have a personal relationship with Him because God knows that is in our ultimate best interests.”
Disclaimer: Views expressed are those of the author or other attributed individual and do not necessarily represent the official opinion of the OncoLink Staff, University of Pennsylvania Health System (Penn Medicine), or the University of Pennsylvania, unless explicitly stated with the authority to do so.