This week my friend got some shocking news. Cancer has invaded several of her major organs, and short of God’s intervention, her prognosis is terminal.
Thankfully she’s a Christian and believes wholeheartedly that either way, live or die, cancer or healing, her faith in God will carry her through. And I hope it will.
Today I prayed for her out of Psalm 27: “The Lord is my light… I will fear no one… I will not be afraid… I will trust God… marvel at his goodness… ask for his guidance… triumph over my enemies… sing and praise Him.” I prayed these things would be true for her as the future unfolds and that her trust in God won’t weaken.
Apparently there’s a chance Christians can lose their faith. I don’t mean lose salvation, just their hope in the Lord. After a terminal cancer diagnosis, it’s easy to become downcast, weak or defeated. If that weren’t a possibility, Jesus himself wouldn’t have demonstrated how to pray against it.
In Luke 22, we see him detailing last minute instructions to his dearest friends, the 12 disciples. They’ve finished sharing the Passover meal and within minutes Jesus will leave the room and walk to Gethsemane where he’ll begin suffering intensely for you, for me, and for these 12.
His time on earth is running out, and surely there’s urgency in his voice, no doubt making the men uncomfortable. He tells them that shortly a friend will betray him, after which he’ll be intensely tortured, then forced to sacrifice his own body and blood.
Certainly the men, sitting in the glow of gentle lamp light with full bellies, don’t want to hear this. They quickly change the subject, but Jesus, possibly on the edge of irritation, needs their full attention and does his own subject-changing. “Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.” (v. 31, NLT)
And suddenly they’re hanging on his every word thinking, “You mean our names came up in a conversation between you and Satan?” This would alarm any of us. But it’s Jesus’ next statement that should have concerned them most. “I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail.”
We learn by following the story that despite Jesus having already prayed for Peter, he does fail, causing heartache for Jesus and anguish for Peter. How many of the others failed, too? How many lost hope in Jesus and behaved accordingly? How many of us? What about my friend?
To know Jesus is praying strong faith into us today increases our determination to hang onto him tighter, no matter what’s going on around us… even if it’s terminal cancer.
I’m going to pray for my friend the same way Jesus prayed for his, that her faith won’t fail, from now until the very end.
“Teach me, Lord, what you want me to do, and lead me along a safe path. I know that I will live to see the Lord’s goodness in this present life.” (Psalm 27:11,13)