2 Corinthians 4:16 – Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (NIV)
Terminal cancer is a hard disease to understand. It hurts so many people — its victims and their relatives. It's a process that is hard to endure, especially as it normally involves losing a lot of weight until the patients can no longer sustain their lives. It's a sad sight to see, and over the years, I've watched many of my best friends, in church and from the communities that I have served, literally waste away. Being a pastor doesn't protect or prevent us from feeling sad, hurt, or even angry when cancer occurs in other people's lives. We feel just as helpless as those around us.
It's also a hard subject to talk or write about because many of us don't want to mention it. I can remember when both my grandfathers suffered from cancer, twenty years apart. Grandpa McLay was diagnosed with lung cancer in his sixties when there were very limited resources or treatment. He died in excruciating pain. Grandpa Stuart was diagnosed with prostate cancer in his late eighties. He slept away gradually and peacefully.
These days, there are lots of resources, treatments, and support, which give many people a higher rate of surviving cancer. I've also seen a greater degree of spiritual growth occurring amongst cancer patients. The human soul is an amazing source of strength, especially when it is really connected to God. And I guess that's part of what Paul is expressing in his own message in today's Scripture — that though outwardly, people may seem to waste away, inwardly there is a sacred process of renewal and restoration going on, which prepares the soul for that ultimate journey into eternity, to be reunited with loved ones and to rest in the everlasting arms of God.
Prayer: Father God, we all know of people who are suffering from terminal cancer. We pray that You would use us to surround them with much love, faith, and constant support. Uphold them during bouts of depression, and comfort them during times of fear. Grant their spirits a process of renewal and let them be completely assured of Your holy presence and almighty peace. Be near to their loved ones and comfort them with Your compassionate care. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.