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.
Connect with Joan on her blog at www.joanhallwrites.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter.
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.
Chris, thank you for this opportunity to guest post and to tell our story. It is my prayer that telling this helps others who may be going through similar situations to know that healing doesn’t depend upon the amount of their faith, but the object of their faith, Jesus. (And thank you for the compliment on my writing.)
Thanks for sharing your story, Joan…and congratulations to you and John on 20 years cancer free! God heals in so many ways, and like you wrote, it isn’t dependent on our amount of faith, but rather, the object of it.
Thank you for sharing your story with us Joan! How wonderful to know that healing, or anything else for that matter, doesn’t depend on the size of our faith, but the object of our faith – the Lord Jesus Christ. So glad to hear your husband has been cancer free for 20 years. God bless you both!
Loved your post. It was transparent and addressed an issue we sometimes pretend isn’t there, the insensitivity of others. Sometimes advice rolls off tongues easily with those who have not tasted what we’ve tasted. I’m not certain why they feel they must share what they share but I truly want to believe it’s what Jesus said to His Father. “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” God healed many and he did it using different avenues. Even with healing the blind, sometimes he had them wash, sometimes he put spittle on their eyes…He wanted them to trust the Healer and not the methods. And though you say it wasn’t dependent on your faith, by your own story I see the faith of a man and woman who trusted God for each step they took even though it was filled with pain, sickness and those who would not agree.
Thanks for sharing yourself in this story.
Wow. What a needed story. I hate the burdens that we Christians put on each other–it is NOT of our Lord! Congratulations to Joan and John for being cancer-free for so long. Keep telling your story–there are so many people who need to hear it. Grace and peace to you.
This is a beautiful story, thank you so much Joan. I, like Chris, am a fan of your stories
Joan, thank you for sharing. I was told the same thing by ignorant people. Have faith they said – even my parents were very unhappy when I decided to take chemotherapy. I’m in remission for 7 years now and know what John went through. My hat off to him. It’s tough and we survive with faith AND medicine.
Angel @ Finding The Inspiring
Joan, I am rejoicing with you for your husband’s healing and for the fact that God’s mercy and power to heal are not dependent on us. I also pray that I and others who follow Christ would guard ourselves against adding to another person’s pain due to our misguided and insensitive words. Great post!
Your story here is so close to my heart. We had people share all sorts of crazy theological disaster-recovery plans with us over the years with my daughter’s epilepsy. It’s been her fault, it’s been my fault, it’s been God’s judgment on my family for generational sins. At some point, we decided it was just epilepsy. I admire your family’s courage
Chris, I’ve read about your struggles and my heart goes out to you. Very similar in many aspects to what we were told. You know, the ones who really suffer is those that are “victims” of misguided theology. Though their words sting and hurt us, we have the foundational Truth in God’s word as our source of strength and can stand firm upon The Rock.
Angel, I truly believe this man meant well and I really feel sorry for those who believe this. When family member’s aren’t healed, they often blame themselves. So sad. Thanks for visiting here and commenting. Blessings!
Patricia – congratulations on 7 years remission! John and I give God the credit for his healing, but healing He chose to administer through the hands of doctors. Blessings!
Thank you, Christa. I your comments are encouraging and I really appreciate them. Blessings!
Rebeca – I’ve been guilty of doing such things. Good intentions, poor choices. Thank you for your kind words. I’m encouraged to keep telling our story. Blessings!
Good points, Anne. Jesus healed in many ways – sometimes instantaneous, other times through other methods. And let’s not forge the Apostle Paul, who asked for the thorn to be removed from his flesh, but God chose not to do so. “My grace is sufficient…” It’s comforting to know that in our weakness His power is strong. Thank you for your encouraging words. Blessings!
Thank you for commenting, Maria. We rejoice in His goodness as we celebrate this anniversary. Blessings to you!
Thank you for reading it Joan. We rejoice in celebrating this 20 years and give glory to the object of our faith, Jesus!
Sharon Rose Gibson
I love what you said here Anne. So well expressed and I agree with you.
I agree, Sharon!
I never thought of misguided theologians as victims, but it makes a of sense. As a family, we have learned to disregard these folks, even when their words hurt
That is so true. It’s often a person’s experiences (good or bad) that guide the way they think about God, illness, and really so many other things. That being said, it is pretty easy to ignore this concept and take a person’s statements at face value.
Seven years — HURRAY! My wife is an oncology nurse, so I have some sense of understanding on how big a deal this is.
It’s just so easy to bring another down, rather than take the time to understand their heart. Even though this type of individualized attention is exactly what we receive from the Lord, every time we commune with him.
Mmmmmm….people who have not tasted what we’ve tasted. I really connect with the imagery of that. Pain is a visceral thing we experience with every part of who we are.
Some days, a mustard seed full of faith feels like too much. So glad God sees our hearts, forgives our unbelief when needed, and moves in so many ways — medicine, healing, community, etc.
I am so thrilled to share these powerful moments from lives like you and John. I just don’t have the wisdom to give people in every circumstance, but I hope this site becomes a place where people can come to hear many voices all pointing them to hope, courage, and strategies to push through.
Cannot put words to how lovely your post was; how tender your transparency; how honored I am to let you write it here.
You know, it’s not that we want others to experience what we’ve experienced. I know I hope no one has to lose a sibling to murder, but still we somehow want others to understand. How can they, when we’ve gone through it and still don’t understand?
Thanks Sharon. I appreciate that.
I sometimes do forget Paul. And yet, there I am asking again and again for God to remove the painful thing. We sometimes forget that God is more interested in what He is doing IN us than He is in what is happening To us.
Chris, your wife is an angel. The oncology nurses are my heroes. They had so much compassion for me. They were there for me every step of the way – eight hours of chemo every three weeks for six months.
Chris – I am honored to have posted here and pray that those who need to hear this message will come here. You are doing a wonderful job of lifting up and encouraging others here. God bless you!
Joan, thanks so much for sharing your story with us, and thank you again for pointing out to me last December John’s 20 year cancer-free result when our son was facing cancer. Faith is a powerful gift when we are able to maintain our focus on God, but I believe like you that there are miracles through God’s hands and perhaps our faith as well as those miracles through the hands of medical specialists being used by God. I always enjoy reading a story from you. Your writing is growing and becoming so filled with the evidence of your gifts of writing and faith.
Chris, thanks for inviting Joan to write her and share your wonderful space.
Blessings and hugs,
Thanks for the kind words…”your wonderful space.” I really try to make it a safe place for people to grow and share.
Thank you, Sherrey. Your words help encourage me as I do move forward with my writing. And I hope that our story is an encouragement to to others facing similar situations. We rejoice and give praise to God for these past twenty years. Thank you so much for visiting here and commenting.