How Can I Comfort My Brother Whose Daughter Has Cancer?
The following is an edited transcript of the audio.
How can I comfort my brother whose daughter has cancer?
The comfort that we have is finally and ultimately in Christ, in his forgiveness and in the resurrection, because we are going to die. Your brother and his little girl, whether now or years from now, are going to die. And their comfort then will be heaven itself, union with Christ and going deep with him. That is not changed whether you're eighty or whether you're fourteen.
Our final comfort is that we are united to Jesus forever. Some die when they're eight, some at eighteen, and some at eighty. But the comfort remains the same. Christ died for our sins. He rose again. He imparts to us everything we need to come to him and enjoy him forever.
Additionally, he will make up for every loss. The judge of all the earth will do right (Genesis 18:25), and he will reward us for every loss we've endured.
Finally, God works all these things for her and his good (Romans 8:28). They can't see that now. It feels overwhelmingly negative, rather than positive. But I have walked through this with enough families, over six or eighteen years, to say that what they say in the moment of the trauma is not what they will say in ten years. It is so huge and so painful, and the emotional effect right now is so negative and so joy-killing, that they're not able emotionally to feel the wonder of God's grace that they will identify in ten years.
So what you want to do for them is hold their hand, hold their neck, and weep with those who weep. Feel with those who feel, but don't lose hope with them. Be their hope. Be there for him, and speak hope when he cannot speak hope.
And let his "words for the wind"—those spoken that are ill-advised and not true—let them go. You don't need to throw them back in his face. Just let them go out onto the wind and be blown away. There will come a time when he will look back and have the capacity, the context, and the faith to describe what happened there, whether she is healed or not healed, in the larger context of God's amazing love and grace.
Be Christ for him. Be there for him to hold him up and encourage him and her.
May heaven be very real. We shouldn't idolize this world. "For this light momentary affliction is working for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen"—a fourteen year old imperiled—"but to the things that are unseen"—a fourteen year old glorified. "For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). So help your brother maintain an eternal perspective.
And then, of course, intercede for healing, and trust God to do what is right, wise, good and loving.
Would your article "Don't Waste Your Cancer" be a good resource even for those who aren't sick?
It has proved to be. I have gotten more feedback, probably, from that little thing than any other little thing I have ever written. And it has come from all over the world. I often bump into people who either knew somebody with cancer or had cancer themselves, and they say that they printed it out and gave it around.
So, evidently, it is useful to both those who have cancer and to those who know someone who has it.
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