October 4, 2010
Posted: 12:10 PM ET
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and to bring attention to this disease, here is a LKL web exclusive by Joni Eareckson Tada on her battle with breast cancer.
When most people learn I'm battling breast cancer, they can't hide their shock. "You?" they ask, "but you're already dealing with quadriplegia and chronic pain. How can you handle cancer?" The truth is, it's hard. But I do have some help...
Over the past couple years, my pain issues had pushed me into the Bible to better understand miraculous healing - why does God heal some people and not others? Does God still perform larger-than-life miracles such as Jesus did when he walked on earth? I had wrestled with these questions decades earlier when a diving accident in 1967 left me a spinal-cord injured quadriplegic; back then, I begged God to heal me. Forty years later I’m happy, but still in my wheelchair. My joy, though, got tested when chronic pain became an issue. That’s when it forced me to take a closer look at Jesus' ministry of healing.
My study resulted in a book called A Place of Healing - I was so grateful for what I had learned and wanted to pass on the insights to others. The book is a raw, no-holds-barred inspection of the biblical view on miraculous healing, and in April, I handed in the manuscript to my publisher. By early June, A Place of Healing was at the press.
That was the week I discovered the lump in my breast. I was stunned. A needle biopsy and mastectomy happened in quick succession - I had stage 3 cancer and my lymph nodes were involved. Next was a meeting with my medical oncologist – in one hour, I learned a port-cath would be surgically implanted in my chest, and my frail quadriplegic body would be assaulted with powerful and highly toxic chemotherapy drugs. When the oncologist got up to leave for a moment, I began sobbing – it was the first time since hearing I had cancer that I broke down. I forgot all about my book.
That is, until I received a published copy of A Place of Healing in the mail a month or so later. Still shaking from my second round of chemotherapy, I slowly flipped through its pages. Would the answers I had found in the Bible about pain and healing still give comfort and encouragement? I started reading a chapter that focused on Jesus’ priorities when it came to physical healing. The words were a little jarring for in Matthew 18:9 Jesus says, "If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell." Although Jesus is using a metaphor, it shows where his priority lies - the most important prophet to come along in centuries; the one who healed thousands, was willing to sacrifice a person’s physical well-being for their spiritual healing any day. Peace that's profound... a settled soul... contentment, full and rich... and joy sent straight from heaven. All these things are gifts from God.
This is the kind of healing I experienced decades ago after I broke my neck… it’s the healing that’s seen me through years of pain… and it’s true as I battle cancer. At one time my heart’s desire was to be on my feet; then to be free of pain; and now, to one day be declared cancer-free. But the bottom-line, no matter what I go through, my desire is simply this: to know God better. He is ecstasy beyond compare and it’s worth anything to be His friend. And if it takes a wheelchair or stage 3 cancer to do that, then fine.
Healing is a perplexing and troublesome topic. There’s not a disabled person I know who doesn’t pray for physical healing. But I often thank God that He never raised me up out of my wheelchair - if I had been granted a healing decades ago, I know I wouldn't now be in a ministry serving other people with disabilities around the world. And with another round or two of chemotherapy to go, will I be declared cancer-free? I don’t know. What I do know is, God's peace in my heart will see me through.
My place of healing is in the arms of God. Yes, it’s biblical to pray for a miracle (it’s only human to ask God for healing), but I want people to be healed where it’s going to count for eternity. We don't need to hold quadriplegia, pain, cancer or any other suffering in contempt - it just may be the open door to joy and peace for those who are paralyzed by unbelief and blind to deeper, more satisfying truths.
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