Of all the diseases known to man, this is the worst. Only a miracle can save a person from it. Here is the story of such a miracle!
EVERYONE hopes cancer won't strike. But for "Grandma" Peterson — really my mother-in-law and a wonderfully sweet person — it did. Cancer! That fearsome plague of modern civilization. It struck her as it now strikes every third or fourth person in many nations at some time in life. She developed cancer of the lung, but she never smoked. That's the way many cancers are — unexplainable. It finally took her life. But this cancer, as bad as it was, was not the worst cancer she had to battle in her life. She battled a far worse cancer. Moreover, she witnessed the horrible effects of this worst of cancers on the minds and bodies of others. Yet she won the battle over this cancer only to be killed by a less devastating kind of cancer. Let me explain.
The latter years of Grandma Peterson's life, especially her last year's struggle with lung cancer, were a shining example of love and peace of mind to all who knew her. Her light of faith and hope shone despite her dread disease. She was a witness to her husband, children, friends, doctors and nurses who were forced to stand by, mostly helplessly, as her frame wasted away. She suffered some pain, of course, but nowhere near what lung cancer should have caused. There was a reason why. God was with her, helping her despite allowing the affliction. She did not feel alone, helpless or hopeless. Her example caused her doctor to remark, "Your faith is seeing you through!" Nothing medical science could offer could do that. But how glad I am Grandma Peterson had overcome the worst cancer a human being can have. That cancer is not cancer of the human body. It is cancer of the human spirit. It is the cancer of fear, hopelessness, lust, hatred of others and bitterness unrepented of and unchanged. Through all of her ordeal, she had no fear of dying. She was not bitter or angry about her fate. She didn't blame God or anyone. No rancor. No bitterness. No hatred to any man or woman. She knew what life was all about and what lay ahead for her. She was one of those rare women, simple but beautiful in character. She died as she strove to live ever since the day God called her to His way of life more than 25 years ago. That was the way of faith and trust in God, and humility and love of Others. No unforgiven sin was on her dying shoulders. No unforgiven guilt. Instead peace of mind and hope — even the hope of a sudden miraculous healing — despite her fatal disease. By phone from her bedside she called all her many sisters and brothers, her four children (my wife among them). She talked only upbeat and encouraging words. She did not focus on her plight. She wanted them to know things were all right with her. But then the Great God whom she trusted, in His great wisdom and love, chose not to intervene any further in the course of her disease as He is more than able to do. He allowed her to die. Do not misunderstand. God did not fail to keep His promise of healing in which she trusted (James 5:14-15). He never does. God is going to apply that healing in the next split second of her consciousness. And how powerful and strong she will be in the resurrection!
Worst Cancer Beaten
I look back at the example set by the life, attitude and suffering of Grandma Peterson. She won the most important prize of life. She withstood all the onslaughts of Satan. She beat down, with God's help, animosities and sins from which she had been called. God, of course, is her judge. But the Scriptures promise that, in the next instant of consciousness, the saints who are asleep in Jesus Christ will, with the saints yet alive at His return, suddenly rise in blazing glory as the children of God. "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump... the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (I Corinthians 15:52-55). Grandma Peterson before her death beat that worst of all cancers — the cancer of the human spirit whose poisonous spiritual cells are revealed in Galatians 5:19-21. I also, must struggle against that cancer. Others do too. That cancer is far worse in human lives and minds than any physical cancer of the body. That cancer has produced every evil in human lives — in yours and mine — today. We are all victims of the worst cancer. Only, many don't recognize the disease or how serious it is unless it is spiritually healed. You can't heal yourself of this fatal disease. But with God's help it can be conquered and healed. How? By asking God to give us the spirit of repentance (Romans 2:4, II Timothy 2:25), then repenting of our wrong attitudes and sins. Sin is the transgression of God's law (I John 3:4). When we repent, we repent of the evil attitudes and ways — the spiritual cancers — which we have allowed or actively pursued in our lives. These spiritual cancers have been injected into the minds of all humanity in varying degrees by an unseen power called in the Bible by the name Satan. Satan "broadcasts" his cancerous attitudes into unsuspecting minds. Such attitudes and moods are reinforced by wrong influences or examples in one's environment (Ephesians 2:2-3). We put these cancers of the human spirit under the blood of Christ for forgiveness and then grow and overcome past wrong attitudes and ways by the help and power of God's Holy Spirit. What's the worst cancer, the most terminal and ugly of cancers? The cancer of unrepented sin! It leads to enormous suffering and unhappiness in human physical life and to death for all eternity (Malachi 4:1). Thank God, Grandma Peterson didn't die of the worst cancer. She only died of cancer of her physical body, not cancer of her spirit!