Christ and Cancer’s Anchor Points

by Eric Rager

You’re probably here because you or a loved one is fighting cancer, or maybe you heard about an organization named “Christ and Cancer” and wanted to come see what a group with a name like this believes. A cancer diagnosis gets us thinking about a lot of serious things, doesn’t it?

Deep and lasting hope and peace aren’t generally found in brief feelgood lines or a 10-step article on coping. These topics and emotions are too deep. So all we can do in this brief introduction is to share what we call “anchor points” to be key steps in your journey toward hope. We will be creating a support group bible study exploring these points in depth.

Our anchor points are biblical and simple sounding, but revolutionary for the serious-minded. And anyone reading this who is asking questions about life and death and suffering is serious-minded indeed.

We are a Christian organization and this article tries to promote clear thinking about God that Christians can cling to in our struggles. But some of you aren’t Christians yet and have different questions. If you’re not a Christian then some of this article might not make any sense. To be honest with you, I’ve been a Christian all my life and a few years ago some of the below wouldn’t have made much sense either. So I encourage you to read along anyway and maybe something here will plant a seed for you to think about and then ask questions. We plan on having additional articles here specifically written to non-Christians as well. But don’t wait around for them to appear - email us questions or post on the message board.

You’re not going to finish this article with all your questions answered and your heart perfectly renewed. But here’s what you should be doing with these anchor points.

  • Understand these truths and explore the consequences of them
  • With a desperate hunger, explore, debate, think and pray on them
  • See how they fit with your Bible reading each day
  • Worship God through your understanding of them
  • Let them radically change you for the better

We are here for you on the “message board” to discuss this. We also have spiritual support resources for you.

Christ and Cancer’s Anchor Points:

1. God is in Control

God is sovereign over all that occurs. This is a point that’s easy to swallow upon a quick reading, but becomes more difficult as this radical truth meets up with suffering, sickness, and disaster. So too often we adjust our thinking about God, and fall into a view of our world spinning out of control with a distant God removed from daily life. After seeing suffering and strife in this world, perhaps it is easier for us to simply move God far out of the picture rather than make sense of His letting troubles happen.

But there are some sad consequences of thinking that way. If God is distant, surely we will despair in prayer. If we let ourselves believe that God lets chaos reign on earth, how are we to ask for healing and courage and strength and hope? And if God has limited his interaction and power from the world, then how can we trust his promises to come true?

The Bible is clear that God is sovereign and in control of all things. He allows calamities, disasters, and sicknesses to happen on His watch. His allowing these things is purposeful even though he does not create them or sin.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29-31

How does greater peace and comfort come from this? For one, the sovereign God who controls all events is the One who will keep His promises to us. An all-knowing, all-powerful God isn’t making hopeful guesses about what awaits us. When we understand his sovereignty over all things, we know His promises are kept and his word is perfect. He can make all the promises found in the Bible because he is unfolding his perfect plan and knows these promises will come true.

And what kind of promises does he make us? God makes many promises, but I’ll just emphasize these. Please consider memorizing them so you may find encouragement which pushes away fear.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39ither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

2. Life, the Universe, and Everything — Its not about you. Its all about Christ.

Who is Christ and what is His role in the universe? The book of Colossians provides with a breathtaking overview:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:15-20

It’s one thing to believe this, and quite another to live your everyday life with this truth as a part of all you do because our minds drift to self-exalting and self-centered thoughts.

Sometimes this truth can make us feel small and insignificant which can even lead to despair. But the Bible teaches that being part of a Christ-centered universe results in our greatest joy.

When facing cancer and struggle - work to focus your mind on a Christ-centered, Christ-exalting view. He wants your fullness of joy to be manifest in Him. This is the only source of true and lasting joy and peace because it is exactly what our bodies and minds were designed for. I understand how hard it is for many of us to think about life this way.

Many of us are drawn to earthly things that we’d seemingly rather spend time enjoying. But this is biblical truth. If this is a new way of thinking for you, just meditate on this point for a while and let bible reading and scriptural teaching guide you further.

When we adopt a Christ-centered view of our pursuit of joy, we can better think in an eternal timeline rather than limiting our mind to our mortal time here on earth.

As we learn and pray on this we can progress toward a view like Paul’s:

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; Philippians 1:20-23

3. God has promised unending joy and amazing gifts for His children in eternal life

This exploration of heaven and the resurrection of our bodies is brief so we can easily keep our mind on it. As with all our other anchor points they merit further study. When you face your fears, remind yourself of your eternal reward and celebrate and worship Christ who has made it possible.

If we are Christian believers adopted by God, then when we die, we are immediately made perfect in holiness and we pass into a heavenly paradise.

Just think of that! No longer will we battle sins. No longer will we have moments of anger or greed. Our souls will immediately be in paradise while our bodies await resurrection. In that paradise we are free of pain and fear!

Then at the resurrection, our incorruptible glorified bodies will be raised up. We will be acknowledged as told in Matthew 25:34: “Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”

Then our sins will be pardoned and we will be made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him. 1Cor 2:9

4. God has granted His adopted children benefits and gifts while still on earth

All good things come from God. In addition to these wonderful gifts, God has granted additional spiritual benefits to believers. This section should give you plenty to think about and study further because these are essential to savor especially during times of struggle.

After we accept Jesus Christ and become a Christian, our sins are forgiven, we are adopted by God with a full inheritance, and we are part of a renewing process of becoming righteous. These are called God’s works of justification, adoption, and sanctification.

God has granted us several benefits with accompany and flow from His works in us: assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience, fellowship with Christ, joy in the Holy Spirit, increase of grace, the privilege of prayer, and perseverance to the end. (note: This summary is adapted from the Westminster Shorter Catechsim and A Baptist Catechism).

Let’s briefly explain each — these benefits are promised to us no matter our circumstance. Savor them in that they offer things of true value.

a) Assurance of God’s Love

During the bleak moments of fear, doubt, anger, anxiety and worry. We must humbly grasp hold of the truth that God loves us. To start, we need not fully understand all of what is meant by “assurance” to try to keep our mind on this point to chase away our fright.

LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
Psalm 16:5-6

b) Peace of Conscience

John Brown describes peace of conscience as “A holy quiet of mind arising from the views of our being in favor with God.” Our conscience is set free from the fears of God’s wrath.

During your times of struggle, rest in this particular peace of your justification to God through Christ’s atonement for your sin. During hard times, this helps us rest in the thought of eventually being joined with Him in eternal life.

c) Joy in the Holy Spirit

It is that inward elevation and enlargement of soul which flows from the lively exercise of faith, feasting on Christ in the promise of 1 Peter 1:8 “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” James Fisher explains like this, “The Holy Ghost is the author of it; as personally residing in the believer. It is grounded in God in Christ as the everlasting portion of the believing soul.”

“Try to realize that the Holy Spirit will give this joy and peace of Christ in our hearts. To many the thought of the Holy Spirit is a matter of grief and self-reproach, of desire and disappointment, of something too high and holy for them. What a foolish thought that the great gift of the Father, meant to keep us in the joy and peace of Christ, should be a matter of self-reproach and care!” Quoted from “God’s Best Secrets” by Andrew Murray

Pray in all humility and ask God to cover you with this blessed gift If you are reading this in a time of struggle pray and ask God for His joy to become more full in your life. Know that deep lasting joy isn’t found in your hobbies and seek God as your true joy.

d) Increase of Grace

God grants us gradual advances in the exercise of grace and equips us for more active exercise of godliness in the world.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
2 Peter 1:5-9

How can this help you as you face your struggles? God has to increase your grace as you grow as a Christian. Rest in the fact God will strengthen you in love for others and how that love causes you to act.

Besides improving you in these ways, God is equipping you to become a more effective servant. During your times of struggle, you will draw attention by how you handle this. God will equip you and you will have an Increase of His Grace which will bring glory to Christ Jesus.

Trust God to do this and be encouraged!

e) Privilige of Prayer

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7 ESV

Christ asked us to pray and present our requests to God through Him. It is an incredible gift he has given to those who follow him and who dwell in him.

To those who thus abide, the promise, “Ask whatever you wish,” comes as their rightful heritage. It cannot be otherwise. Christ has full possession of them. He dwells in their love, their wills, and their lives. Not only have their wills been given up, Christ has entered them, dwelling and breathing there by His Spirit. These people pray in Him. He prays in them, and the Father always hears Him. What they ask will be done for them. Andrew Murray - With Christ in the School of Prayer.

During your times of struggle, pray desperately and pray faithfully and pray confidently, knowing that Christ Jesus has asked us to pray. As you have time, learn more about how Christ’s word may abide in you more completely so that your prayer life will be blessed.

f) Perseverance to the End

“Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and who are effectually called by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere unto the end and be eternally saved.” Westminster Confession - Chapter 17: Of the Perserverance of the Saints by Westminster Assembly

“Believers shall certainly persevere in grace and good works to the end, and be surely saved at last. All the means to this end, as well as the end itself, are provided for in the purpose or plan of God’s grace.” The Presbyterian Standards by Francis R. Beattie

How should we apply this to our times of struggle and fear? If you have been truly saved by Christ’s grace, God has promised to see you through to the end and complete his work in you.

Perhaps you have had moments of anger and bitterness at God in your struggle. Or fear has taken hold of you. Take confidence that Satan has no power to destroy your soul. You may be tormented and weak today, but with confidence know that God will keep you.

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    • *Evangelism: Sharing and teaching of hope in Christ to those who are suffering
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    Christ and Cancer is a United States Federal Tax Exempt 501(c)(3) public charitable organization, and also a California not-for-profit corporation. Donations to Christ and Cancer are deductible under section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code.