Today, I have the honor of sharing my site with Joan Hall. From her earliest recollection, Joan Hall has always enjoyed listening to a good story. Now she shares stories about life and faith. Her desire is that her writing will cause people to reflect upon living a simple life, strong family bonds, and most important, faith in Christ.
I met Joan through the TribeWriters course, and (even though she doesn’t know this) I have always admired her ability to tell a story. Today, she shares a very deeply personal story of God’s faithfulness in her life.
My husband and I heard someone call his name and turned to see a familiar face. “We learned of your illness, and want you to know we are praying.”
News travels fast in small towns. Doctors had recently diagnosed John with cancer. Within a short time, his name had gone out to numerous prayer chains at local churches as well as in the neighboring town where his parents lived.
Therefore, it didn’t surprise us when the man approached us in Wal-Mart. He and John had once attended the same church. We did our best to answer his questions about the diagnosis. I told him the surgeon had referred John to a leading cancer hospital.
“They will review his records and run additional test to determine if he will need chemotherapy,” I said.
What did surprise us was the man’s reply. Without batting an eye, he said, “He won’t, if you have enough faith.”
I had been a Christian for a number of years, but I had never before heard someone make such a statement. I knew God sometimes heals miraculously, but I also believed there are times He chooses to heal through the hands of physicians.
What? He’s saying John’s healing (or lack thereof) depends on the amount of our faith. I mumbled something in response. Puzzled by his words, we thanked him for the prayers.
After visiting with oncologists, we learned John required a four-month course of chemotherapy. I didn’t think too much about having a lack of faith until the side effects of chemo began. Seeing him suffer with severe nausea and vomiting, hair loss, poor appetite and hearing loss caused me to doubt.
Oh Lord, do I have enough faith? Could John have avoided this if I had only believed more? Is his healing dependent upon the amount of my faith?
God filled me with a peace and assured me John was in His hands. “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20, ESV).
A mustard seed—the tiniest seed on earth. What mattered wasn’t the size of my faith, but the object of my faith—Jesus.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4, NIV).
It wasn’t a lack of faith, but a testing of faith. God desires for us to mature in our walk with Him.
On June 8, 1992, our eighth wedding anniversary, John left the hospital after finishing what we hoped would be his last chemotherapy. One year later, God tested our faith again when we learned the cancer had returned.
This time the recommended treatment required a more aggressive course of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. Again, God gave me peace and reassurance.
John left the hospital in October 1993. Three weeks later, he returned to work. Six months later, at a reunion for transplant patients, even his doctors were amazed at his progress.
If you have ever wondered if healing depended upon the amount of your faith, consider the story of the lame man found in the fifth chapter of John. When Jesus walked by and saw him lying on his mat, He simply asked, “Do you want to get well?” He didn’t question the man’s faith.
The man actually showed a lack of faith. “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”
Yet Jesus chose to heal him.
This year marks twenty years of John being cancer free. We give God all the glory for his healing. Healing that came through the hands of medical professionals. Healing that wasn’t dependent on the amount of my faith.