I feel there is no better example of cancer challenging faith than my father in law. My husband’s father and my father were both diagnosed with pancreatic cancer within months of one another. While my father had been a life-long Christian, my father in law had not.
Many who find out they have cancer become angry at God, depressed or just angry in general. My father in law did none of these. The amazing thing is this, my father in law was not a Christian until two years before his death. While my mother in law always was, she could never get him to church. We all witnessed to him, talked to him and even tried to get him to read the Bible. He was convinced that aliens came to earth and inhabited it rather than God creating everything. We never pushed or prodded, just talked.
He began to attend church out of the blue with my mother in law and we were all thrilled. They went to a small country church that had just been rebuilt. Soon, the wonderful day of salvation came for him and at his baptism, we all cried. During the next two years, they spent nearly all of their free time at the church. He did more for God in two years than many Christians do in their entire life.
When the cancer diagnosis came, we were so frightened he would become bitter and question his faith but instead, he leaned upon it, just as you’re supposed to do. He never said anything negative, he never blamed God and he continued to be active and faithful within his church. While both sides of our family went through is ordeal, my dad remained upbeat and positive as did my father in law. They would each ask about the other knowing that both of them wouldn’t live long. Pancreatic cancer is not curable. It’s survival rate is less than ten percent and we were well aware our time was limited. My father was diagnosed six months before my father in law but my father in law passed six months before my dad.
My father in law said he knew where he was going and if this was God’s plan, then so be it. That is a strong testament to his faith. He prayed and attended church as much as he could while he was sick. When he suddenly became ill on a Sunday afternoon and was rushed to the hospital, we had no idea he would be gone two days later. Although it was a shock to lose him so quickly, the knowledge he was right with God and had given so much of himself during his two years of salvation was of great comfort to us.
It’s understandable when people get angry at God, it’s their first reaction. The fact he never got angry or upset has always touched me. Truthfully, I did not care much for him prior to his salvation. He was somewhat rude sometimes, very short tempered and drank far too much but the kids loved him and I respected that. When he was saved, he truly was washed clean and became a new man.
I believe his cancer strengthened his faith and gave him the power to make it through the rough times. God always has a plan, we just don’t always see it or even agree with it. It did seem a little unfair that this wonderfully changed man only had a short time but the things he did were tremendous and that’s God’s plan, not ours.
While cancer weakens the body, faith strengthens the soul so you can make it through it all.