After a few years of waiting, the wait is over. It’s time to begin Radiation Treatment. This means it’s time to update this series – Don’t waste your cancer. Of course, like everyone else, I hoped surgery would remove all the cancer. But it didn’t. And so, it’s time for the next steps.
Notice, I said steps. It’s not just blindly move on.
And it’s more than just the cancer treatment.
There are so many other things.
Overall physical health.
Of course, our dog – Mikey.
And let’s not forget about spiritual health.
After all, it’s God who got me this far. It would be weird to abandon Him now. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be impossible. Probably not even all that uncommon.
But then, that’s part of why I’m doing this series.
The wait is over – radiation treatment begins
Is radiation good or bad?
As I said, the waiting is over. Radiation treatment will begin in a month.
It made me think. Radiation is a complicated thing. The sun emits so much of it. And yet, we couldn’t live without the sun. And we do things like make radioactive bombs. It’s all very complicated.
Of course, there are things like bombs, that don’t do anything good. But there’s also nuclear energy, which brings out mixed emotions. Lots of energy without lots of carbon. But there are other side effects, like radioactive waste that lasts for a really long time. And accidents that cause damage. Even natural phenomena, like the earthquake that destroyed the reactor in Fukushima, Japan.
Even the equipment used for treating cancer. I have (and had) friends that went through radiation treatment. That includes a couple of other men who said, no matter what – don’t do radiation! They had it many years ago. The technology and Knowledge have changed greatly since then. It’s much safer. And has fewer side effects.
Really, it’s not unlike so many other things in this world. Knowledge comes from God. That knowledge, in its original form and for its original intent, is to do good things. But this is a fallen world. With fallen people. And God’s knowledge gets corrupted. We do things with it that weren’t part of God’s plan.
Is radiation treatment from God?
So, is using radiation to treat cancer part of God’s plan? Honestly, we don’t know.
I could pick out one verse, and say it is.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
However, that’s such an overused verse, we better check for context. Which of course, we’d do anyway. Here’s the entire passage.
More Than Conquerors
Ro 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Ro 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Here’s the thing about the passage above. It’s not for everyone. We sometimes think it is, because we pay attention to the first part of it: And we know that in all things God works for the good.
Then, after we do that, ignoring the qualifier of for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose, we turn it into God makes everything turn out for good. That’s not what it says!
What’s happening here also shows the need for context. Even if we somehow manage to convince ourselves that our interpretation of the one verse is correct, the remainder of the passage is screaming – “no it’s not!”
Does that mean radiation treatment isn’t from God?
Radiation clearly benefits both believers and non-believers. It’s not like it doesn’t work if the recipient doesn’t follow Jesus. So, if something doesn’t fall under the category of benefitting only believers, does that mean it’s not good?
No. Not at all. Remember what Jesus said about living enemies.
Love for Enemies – Matthew
Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Confused? What does radiation treatment for cancer have to do with loving enemies?
Let’s look at something in there. Loving enemies is something Jesus tells us to do. And in the middle o that short passage are a couple of examples of how God does that.
44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Here are a few things to think about from those verses:
5:45 you may be sons of your Father Just as God gives the good gifts of sun and rain to all people without distinction, members of the kingdom should act with love, kindness, and generosity toward all. Jesus’ followers should reflect God’s character. 1
5:44 Love is not a matter of sentiment alone, but practical concern, blessing, prayer, and positive wishes for well-being, extended to friend and enemy alike.
5:45 Just as God indiscriminately sends rain and sunshine upon the just and unjust alike, so Jesus’ disciples must be indiscriminate in their extension of love to friend and enemy. 2
Next, let’s look at some verses from Job. These come from when God questions Job, asking Job about his (Job’s) knowledge of a whole bunch of things.
The LORD Speaks – Job 38
Job 38:25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
Job 38:26 to water a land where no man lives,
a desert with no one in it,
Job 38:27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
Job 38:28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
And what do those questions have to do with knowledge? You may remember how this response to God started. It’s got everything to do with knowledge!
Job 38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
Job 38:2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge?
Job 38:3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
Is radiation treatment from God?
So, the knowledge needed to perform radiation treatment from God? Absolutely.
Have people corrupted that knowledge? I believe it’s pretty much certain that we have.
If so, then is the knowledge to perform radiation treatment for cancer the “good” knowledge from God or the corrupted knowledge?
Rather than answering that, here’s a better question. There are obvious benefits to this radiation treatment. I hope to be a recipient of a cure from that treatment.
But here’s the thing. Or should I say things?
If it’s the “good” kind of knowledge from God, uncorrupted, then it’s, to state the obvious, a “good” thing.
But even if it’s not, even if the knowledge is corrupted, God can bring about “good” from it.
But wait! Doesn’t that go against what I said earlier about the passage from Romans? Aren’t I misusing that passage in exactly the way I said not to do?
Uh – no.
What’s the difference between sun & rain versus “things working for the good…“?
You can find some info on that in the referenced verses below. I leave it for you to check out using the links provided, otherwise this’ll be way longer than what I want it to be.
God as source of human knowledge
All knowledge proceeds from God, although many do not acknowledge it. The pursuit of knowledge apart from God is futile and leads to pride.
God is the source of all knowledge
Pr 2:6 See also Job 28:28; Pr 1:7; 9:10
Pursuit of knowledge apart from God led to the fall
Ge 3:1-7 See also Ge 3:22-24
Pursuit of knowledge apart from God is futile
Ecc 12:11-12 See also Ecc 1:16-18; 1Co 8:1
Pursuit of the knowledge that proceeds from God merits divine approval
Pr 3:13-18 See also Pr 2:3-5; 4:5; 15:14; 2Pe 1:5
God bestows knowledge on certain individuals
Da 1:17 See also Ex 31:1-5; 35:30-36:1; 1Ki 3:10-12; 2Ch 1:10-12; 1Co 12:8 3
Here’s the thing about sun and rain and certain kinds of knowledge. If you paid attention to the list above, even without reading it, you probably noticed something. Let me make it clear in case you didn’t catch it.
|Knowledge||General||with God||without God|
|reason for the knowledge||knowledge is not necessarily good or bad||knowledge from God or learned in pursuit of God||Knowledge not from God or learned outside of pursuit of God|
|God is the source of all knowledge||knowledge, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily good or bad, except for the evil part of what we learned from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil||depends on our intent / purpose||depends on our intent / purpose|
|Pursuit of knowledge apart from God led to the fall||from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil|
|Pursuit of knowledge apart from God is futile||stems from from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil|
|Pursuit of the knowledge that proceeds from God merits divine approval||Things we learn while learning about God. Requires Holy Spirit to confirm it fits with scripture|
|God bestows knowledge on certain individuals||given by God for His purpose.|
The thing about that table is that anything we learn can be corrupted. That’s why the reference to asking the Holy Spirit for help is so important. Even knowledge given for a good purpose can be corrupted for something evil.
Where are we after all that?
What does all this have to do with the wait is over?
One of the things I’ve previously written about in this series is the peace I feel from God.
Since I’m going through this, with the concept from John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Cancer, I watch for things that can, to borrow another concept (this time from Paul), cause others to stumble. There’s so much misinformation these days about medical science that I can’t help but wonder, will people stop doing radiation treatments because they think there’s something evil behind them? I’m thinking of those Christians who won’t take vaccines and avoid medical treatments because they think strong enough faith will somehow almost force God to heal them.
So, with that in mind, let’s consider radiation treatment. There are clearly good and bad things about what we do with our knowledge of radiation. Bombs are clearly not a good thing, Healing people is a good thing.
Let’s say it is good. Then treatment, whether it be prolonging life or healing, is a good thing.
But what if radiation treatment isn’t from what I’m classifying as “good” knowledge? When it’s used for healing, it is good. God can certainly use things that people learned, no matter the reason behind their original quest for knowledge, to do good things,
When radiation is used for treating cancer, I don’t see evil intent or purposes behind it. So why not allow knowledge that, at some point, was directly from God regardless of how it may have been misused for other purposes, to heal us?
Conclusion – The wait is over – It’s time to begin radiation treatment
Now, when everything above is processed, what happened with the use/misuse of: Ro 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Question – is that verse about this life, the next life, or some of both?
I believe the answer is both. But there’s a method to it.
Remember, God’s desire is for all to be saved. Good things are given to us regardless of our salvation status. That’s things like sun and rain. Bad things also happen to us regardless of our salvation status. That’s things like droughts or extreme temperatures.
How we respond to those things though does have an impact on whether or not we’re even open to being saved by God. Acknowledgment of good things from God and bad things because this world is fallen play a part in our decision. As we saw above, that same feeling extends to knowledge.
In other words, all sorts of things happen and all sorts of things are known to us. When we’re able to differentiate that the good is from God and the evil comes because of Satan, we’re into the area of pursuing God.
Then, the verse from Romans comes into play. That’s when “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose“.
It’s also then that we can realize that the “good thing” isn’t necessarily killing all the cancer cells via radiation treatment. Seriously. It’s not. The good thing is that, cured or not, God’s purpose is doing something for those who love Him.
Here are some thoughts on that.
- If we’re cured, and we give God no credit, then how does God get any glory from our healing?
- If we’re continuing our lives with cancer still present, and we are silent about it rather than giving God praise for allowing us to continue to do His work here on earth, how does God get any glory from that?
- If we’re continuing our lives with cancer still present, and we complain about it rather than giving God praise for allowing us to continue to do His work here on earth, how does God get any glory from that?
- If we’re on a course for death from our cancer, even it’s it’s slow and painful, the same issues above still apply. Will we do anything to give god glory, even as we’re dying?
The reality is, we don’t always know how God will work things for good. And we’ll never know all the different ways any given event will be used for good. And maybe hardest to deal with are the times when our suffering, and how we deal with it, is for the good of someone else.
Do I know how my cancer journey is going to end? No. But then, there is this “conversation” I had with God maybe six years ago. At a time I really thought I was going to die from an infection that wasn’t responding to antibiotics.
Part of that was that I’m ready to “go home”, as we Christians refer to death. There were many times I would’ve been more than happy to go home. But at that time, I also that I felt like I can do more for Him if I live. So I left the decision up to Him. Obviously, I’m still alive. The way it happened was very surprising. Totally not what the doctors expected.
Ultimately, that experience is one of the events in my life that really shapes how I view this Romans verse about things being done for good. It’s also the main reason why I share those experiences. So others can learn, maybe, without having to go through them.
And, it’s why I can look at my cancer situation, and not worry. Why not? Because I know that the ultimate “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” event is when believers get to live for all eternity with Jesus.
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