On March 6th in Ken’s Sunday school class, prayer requests were being shared. There were about eight in a row concerning cancer. Some of them were updates on people the class had prayed for before, and some were new diagnoses. There was a report of a fellow church member whose cancer had returned for a third time. This lady had been diagnosed twenty years ago.
As the reports continued, the gloom deepened. Finally, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I got up and said, “I wasn’t planning to share this prayer request here this morning, but I think I need to. My sister is in town. She came down from Chicago to be with her friends, Marguerite and Bill, because Bill has cancer. He was diagnosed a week ago and he is expected to live for about another week, maybe two. Bill hasn’t been a believer very long, but now that he is, he and his wife are rejoicing in the knowledge that when this illness is over, he will step into the presence of the Lord.
Yesterday afternoon, the three of them sat down and wrote Bill’s obituary. Bill remarked, “This is really strange writing your own obituary.” He is growing weaker before their eyes, and they know that he doesn’t have long, but they are rejoicing in the Lord because they know were Bill is going.
“As we consider all the prayer requests for all the people dealing with cancer and other illnesses, we need to be lifting them up to the Father asking Him to bless them with a keen awareness of His love for them and the fact that He has prepared a place for them. We need to pray that they will have joy in the Lord even as they face the reality of impending death to their bodies.”
“And as for those of you who don’t know me, I’ve got cancer, too. My having cancer just means that I’ll make my exit a little sooner than I had thought. One thing I am keenly aware of is that nobody gets out of this life alive. Those of us with cancer get to check out and go be with Jesus sooner than the rest of you. My having cancer means that I will never become a decrepit old lady.”
“And life is so short. Scripture compares the brevity of life with a mist, a vapor, a breath. We’ll all be in eternity with the Lord for a long, long time, but life in this world is like grass. We are here today and will be with the Lord before we know it.”
“So our prayer for all these people with cancer and with other illnesses, needs to be that they will keep their eyes on Jesus, delight in Him and rejoice that he has prepared a place for us.”
It was interesting to observe the expressions on the faces of class members as I spoke. Their expressions changed. I could see people visibly relax and smile. They exchanged glances and nodded. Several spoke up and thanked me for reminding them of who we are in Christ and of our need to have a Christian perspective on illness and death.
After class, and for weeks following, people have come to me to thank me for sharing. A number have asked about Marguerite and Bill, and have asked me to tell them how encouraged they were by what I shared with them.