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Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 3:04 pm | Fair 61º


D.C. Collier: Cancer, and the Day My World Turned Upside Down

“I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all.”
John 11:24-26 (The Message)

I am in a footrace with cancer. When I was diagnosed almost 20 years ago with an acute case of prostate cancer, my doctors warned me not to make plans past five years. By that logic, I’m now 15 years “over-budget.”

Long story short, I’ve been getting treated with a uniquely timed drug combination that has kept the cancer at bay, so far. I’ve been defying the statistics for years, but am intensely aware that things could change for the worse overnight.

Someone has said “he is a fool whose plans end at the grave,” but even as a Christian, my nose needed to be rubbed in my mortality before I finally woke up. It came as a shock ...

Up to that fateful moment, my day seemed ordinary enough — just getting the results from some medical tests. I felt good, was at the top of my game as a business entrepreneur, had a lovely wife, a home in sun-splashed Santa Barbara, and we were financially secure. What could go wrong? I thought.

But then time froze, as I saw the doctor’s clipboard with my name and Social Security number at the top of his diagnosis form and the word CANCER at the bottom. In an instant, that dreaded word morphed from an abstract concept to a stark reality.

Nothing would be the same again. This called for a depth of faith that, frankly, I was unprepared for.

Getting a dread disease is a lonely proposition. There you are, surrounded by health-care workers, family and friends, yet feeling “lonely in the crowd.” After all, you’re the one who has “the thing,” and they don’t.

All the platitudes and comforting words don’t cancel out the fact that when they leave the room, you are left alone with a malevolent monster seeking to eat you alive from the inside out. Death had just brushed past, but I had the chilling feeling that it would be back.

And then, my long-held faith finally kicked in. As an engineer, I wasn’t about to fall into what skeptics call “the god of the gaps” trap. Just because I can’t explain things doesn’t mean I throw God into the mix, just to make the pieces fit. I was driven to dig deeper and remain intellectually true to my values.

While the doctors were searching for all necessary medical data, I hunted for spiritual facts, especially the credentials of the Man I had placed my faith in many years ago. He claimed to have gone down into death and come back to tell about it — now that’s someone I could identify with.

Denial No Longer an Option

It took a while to accept my cancer diagnosis. Denial wasn’t working, and “cleaning up my act” wasn’t either. My blood test numbers were getting worse, and I needed to “turn myself in.”

As I sheepishly submitted to my doctor’s care, a strange sense of peace came over me. Not merely because I was confident on the medical side, but because I was certain about Jesus and His resurrection from the dead.1 I had never placed myself in anyone else’s hands before and, while scary at times, I was starting to enjoy the ride!

His Resurrection Is My Resurrection

I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine going through such an experience without knowing that whatever happens on the operating table, Jesus had my back:

“... knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.”2

“... even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus ...”3

Jesus is our “cosmic lifeboat.” Since He went down into death and came up in resurrection, God can incorporate us spiritually into Christ and considers us as having gone through the same experience. What He went through in fact, we go through in identification with His death, burial and resurrection, “so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”4

How About You?

Are you facing something that’s way above “your pay grade?” Looking for more than worldly “wisdom,” and empty promises? Consider resting your case with Jesus who delivered on every promise He ever made, including His prediction that He would rise from the dead.

Scholar E.M. Blaiklock, professor of Classics at the University of Auckland, wrote, “I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history.”

You can bet your life on it. I have.

D.C. Collier is a Bible teacher, discipleship mentor and writer focused on Christian apologetics. A mechanical engineer and Internet entrepreneur, he is the author of My Origin, My Destiny, a book focused on Christianity’s basic “value proposition.” Click here for more information. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

1. One authoritative tome is, Evidence That Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell.

2. 2 Corinthians 4:13-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

3. Ephesians 2:5-7 NASB

4. Romans 6:4 NASB

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