I told my church the week before Thanksgiving. I was able to give them this testimony.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV) 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Thanksgiving is God's will.
It is to be done in all circumstances. I don't thank God for cancer but I thank Him even so because He is still the same God who loved us before we heard there was cancer.
None of us deserve God's grace. We deserve Hell.
Romans 6:23 (ESV) 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I shouldn't complain when I have already received God's amazing grace. He gave us life with Him forever when we deserved to be separated forever.
God allows the good and the evil to strike everyone.
Matthew 5:45 b(ESV) For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Some people ask why God would allow cancer to come into our home. I ask, "Why not?" I shouldn't expect that I have been so good that God would protect me from all hardships. He certainly didn't do so with Moses, Job, David, Paul or many others in the Bible. They went through some very tough times even when they were faithful.
Our own righteousness doesn't give us a leg up on others.
Isaiah 64:6 (ESV) 6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
I often hear people ask me why the bad things happen. They tell me that they have been good. They want to know what good it has done them. I guess they don't get it. It isn't about us nor does our own righteousness put us at the front of the good times line. Our righteousness comes from what Jesus did on the cross. That's pure grace.
We don't have the right to question God's grace or the apparent lack of grace.
Job 40:2 (ESV) 2 “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it.”
Honestly, I often don't know what God is really up to. I don't know why some things happen. I weep with parents who lose little children and have no answer. I know that some day we will see God's goodness in what has happened but I don't know what it is. I don't believe I will see the good in some of these things until I meet their children in heaven. Then, I don't think it will matter. I think the parents will have their children forever. The time on earth will eventually seem short.
Faith thanks God before the struggles have ended.
Jehoshaphat was surrounded by armies that he couldn't defeat. He declared a fast and received a word from God that the battle did not belong to him or his people. So, he places the choir before the army and goes singing to find the armies who have come against him and his people have defeated each other. And what were they saying? Look at scripture.
2 Chronicles 20:21 (ESV) 21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Even when things go bad, we are to continue giving thanks to God.
Daniel did so even when a law was passed which would prevent him from giving thanks to God. Doing so would mean that he would be thrown in a hungry lions' den. But he still thanked God.
Daniel 6:10 (ESV) 10 When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously.
So, I still thank God. My wife does too.
Thankfulness is at the heart of answered prayers.
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Why is it at the heart of thanksgiving? Because it expresses our faith more clearly.
We thank God because His love has not left us no matter what we are going through.
Romans 8:38-39 (ESV) 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I know that it doesn't say "cancer" in the above list but I believe it is included in "anything else in all creation." God's love has not diminished one iota while we are in the middle of the toughest times of our lives.
Thankfulness is the means of approaching God.
Psalm 95:2 (ESV) 2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
Who really wants to hear someone who comes griping? Thankfulness reveals we still trust in God.
We thank God for His constant presence.
Romans 8:9 (ESV) 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
My wife and I know the Lord Jesus. We know He is in us. We, therefore, have His presence continually.
We thank God for His comfort day and night.
Psalm 42:8 (ESV) 8 By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
I suppose we should expect a few moments of fear but it hasn't come. I know it is because of His constant comfort.
We thank Him for His power.
Jeremiah 32:27 (ESV) 27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?
That means that our God is too big to let cancer defeat Him. I know I don't have a promise from Him that there won't be more struggles or even death someday but I know that if these things come, they will come with His permission. Thus, I know He will be with us through it all. He is greater than anything that can come against any of us.
We thank Him for the good He will bring.
Romans 8:28 (ESV) 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
I don't believe that cancer is good. I believe that God will cause good to happen because of what we have had to go through. Maybe the good will come through this testimony. Maybe it will affect someone's life positively.
This testimony was given to the church on November 24.
(On November 27 my wife had some pretty major surgery to get rid of the cancer. Yesterday, the report from the surgeon was that all of it was removed. She will still have to go through radiation in January after she is healed from the surgery. (Radiation will be five days a week for four to six weeks.) I praise God for this report.
Our story is better because my wife has had regular mammograms. I would like to encourage every woman not to avoid this procedure. The cancer was caught early and my wife has a very positive prognosis. God can heal anyone at any time but that doesn't mean that we should tempt Him by avoiding what we need to do to protect ourselves.)