Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. The next few years saw tons of tests, failed treatments, and you-just-gotta-laugh-at-em side effects. And, of course, lots and lots of prayer. As most of you know, God healed me completely in 2010. No more treatments. No more bad reports. No more cancer. As the doctor confirmed, “Unless you get hit by a truck or something, you’re going to live to be a hundred years old.”
Well, last November, “a truck or something” smacked me real good. Test results showed more prostate cancer – the very same kind that had leveled me in 2007. So this past year, after a nice, long, enjoyable cancer-free season, I had to head back to the battlefield. This time dealing with a healing that didn’t hold.
Some of you may be in the same boat right now. Others of you might have family or friends struggling with a “healing that didn’t hold” diagnosis. Here are a few things that have helped me in the struggle:
1. Ask the right “why” question the right way.
There are an awful lot of bad ways to ask the “why” question – ways that end in self-pity, doubt, fear, hopelessness, blame, and ultimately, a turning away from God and His goodness. “Why me, God?” “Why didn’t you keep this from happening?” “Why do I have to go through it all over again?” Pretty dangerous places to go with our whys.
That said, there can be a healthy place for the “why” question in our lives when asked with the right attitude of heart and the right end in mind. There are loads of reasons why sickness or pain can return, many – but not all – of them things that we’re responsible for. (Like leaving doors open through fear, stress, habitual sin, unforgiveness, or even bad eating habits.) Discovering what these things are is often one of the keys to gaining – and keeping – our second healing.
So feel free to ask God. He knows exactly why the sickness came back to roost in your body. When you ask with humility and a genuine desire to take any responsibility (not blame) for what’s gone wrong, then He may very well hand you the key to your healing.
2. Continue to glorify God for your original healing.
When the original sickness returns, there can be a tendency to be disappointed with God’s original healing work. Like it’s somehow a miracle with an asterisk beside it. I strongly encourage you, don’t let the return of the illness denigrate God’s glory for the first healing miracle. Continue to thank God loudly and proudly for the first one, even as you rise up and pursue Him for the second.
3. Gear up to pursue your next healing.
The best counsel I received when first diagnosed with cancer was to stop being so passive. My good friends encouraged me to get aggressive in the battle for my healing, which meant making lifestyle changes, guarding my thought life and my lips life, filling my heart with God’s words, dreams, and desires, and pursuing the right kinds of prayers from the right kinds of people.
When the second diagnosis fell in my lap, I confess to feeling more than a bit overwhelmed with the prospect of gearing up for the very same battle again. I knew how tiring it could be, and what would be required for another push to victory. You may be feeling the same way. I encourage you to stir yourself up to battle again, with friends at your side and the glorious presence of God as your strength. Get aggressive. Do everything you can to pursue God’s healing for your life.
4. Be prepared for a different battle and a different victory.
Since we’ve been through the battle before, it can be easy to presume that our next healing miracle will come in the same basic package. Same sickness. Same healing. Same approach. Same results. Be careful of living under this kind of presumption. It can keep you from discovering God’s ways or desires for you in this healing.
Think about how King David went into very similar battles with very different strategies from God. He didn’t just go with the plan that worked the last time. What a fantastic example of dependence on God and sensitivity to His ways. I encourage you to approach your present battle for healing in much the same way. Be sensitive to His every direction during this season, because that’s where your victory lies.
5. View the recurrence as an opportunity instead of a failure.
It can be so easy to feel like a failure when your healing doesn’t hold. Can’t explain it, that’s just the way it is. I urge you to reject every hint of this kind of thinking right now, because that’s certainly not how God views it.
Go look up how Jesus answered His disciples’ questions about why a man was born blind. (John 9) He refused to focus on any past failures in the young man’s life, only the future opportunities – the biggest one being “so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Let’s set our hearts to have this very same focus. Any failure in our lives in the area of a lost-healing is nothing compared to how our Father is going to turn it into an opportunity for His glory. And that we can actually get excited about.