One challenge of cancer, or any other crisis for that matter, is keeping your faith. How do you continue to believe in God, when what you are experiencing is so awful, so ungodly? Bad things happening in your life can make it hard to believe in a good God. But cancer and crises can also increase your faith. Here's how.
In my book, How Cancer Cured Me (To Be Released 8/25/20), I wrote about how my cancer diagnosis challenged my faith, even though I had grown up in the church and been a Christian all my life. My floundering faith upset me. For heaven’s sake, I had been a pastor for 18 years!
I felt like Peter being called by Jesus to step out of the boat and walk on the water. The cancer storm showed up and I stepped into it. If I kept my eyes on Jesus, I could deal with the disease and walk on the water. But then I’d get scared, take my eyes off Jesus, and sink like a stone. More than once, I heard Jesus asking, Why did you doubt?
Ironically, at the same time, cancer also grew my faith more than anything ever had. I became bolder, more courageous. I believed my illness would not end in death. Jesus would heal me or take me to heaven to his Father’s house. I had faith that God was with me, through it all, making all things work for my good and his glory. My faith grew exponentially.
The massive challenges of cancer forced me to rely on God. I treasured my early morning devotional time, my private worship. I read and reread my Bible veraciously, desperately, and expectantly. I prayed deeply, making petitions and voicing praise. To quote Brother Lawrence, I tried always to be “practicing the presence of God.
My diagnosis didn’t force me into a corner alone and leave me there. I faithfully worshipped with the community of faith, the Church. We gathered, proclaimed our faith, expounded upon God’s word, sang, and responded—together. My cancer, by God’s grace, empowered our worship.
Looking back, I can see clearly how worship, both private and public, both gave me faith, fueled my faith, and grew it.
Growing Faith Worshipping God
Recently I read Psalm 84. I love what the Psalmist, the ancient worship leader, says about those who love to worship God, the people who know one day of worship is better than a thousand elsewhere (Psalm 84:10). They worshiped no matter what, even in the valley, and their worship changed everything.
“How enriched are they who find their strength in the Lord; within their hearts are the highways of holiness! Even when their paths wind through the dark valley of tears, they dig deep to find a pleasant pool where others find only pain. He gives to them a brook of blessing filled from the rain of an outpouring… Psalms 84:5-6 TPT
Sometime after my diagnosis, I heard a worship leader, today’s Psalmist, shouting triumphantly, “I’m going to worship my way through this battle!” I knew his life wasn’t easy either. He had something difficult going on, too, but worship strengthened him. I could feel it. I could believe him.
Follow their lead. When times get tough, don’t quit worshiping. Worship more than ever. Don’t draw back. Lean in. Don’t wring your hands. “Put them in the air and wave ‘em like you just don’t care!” Don’t go passive aggressive and give God the silent treatment. Give God your praise, adoration, thanksgiving, dedication, and petitions. Don’t drop dead. Drop to your knees and pour out your soul to God!
“When I’m near you my heart and my soul will sing and worship with my joyful songs of you, my true source and spring of life!” (Psalms 84:1, TPT).
What are your joyful songs? Early in my cancer journey, I created a “Don’t Stop Believing” playlist, songs that fueled my faith. Listen to Christian radio. Keep spinning your records. Praise and sing your way through the storm.
I know right now you may not be able to attend a worship service at church. Don’t let stop you. Jesus said, “the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:23, NIV). You don’t need a building, you can worship just as well at home, or anywhere, by yourself or with your family.
You can find a great service to watch on your big screen tv or smart phone. Visit several churches virtually from the comfort of home. With or without the community, engage Scripture, dig into God’s word, say a prayer, give an offering, and, above all, sing some songs to the Lord!
What Do You Think? Please share with me your story of how God has grown your faith through adversity.