Prepare Your Heart for Cancer

1 Thessalonians 5:9–11

More than a third of you will have cancer at some point in life. Do you have a few verses to cling to when the diagnosis comes? In this lab, Pastor John walks through the text he clung to when his diagnosis came.

Principle for Bible Reading


An author often emphasizes what something is by stating what it is and then what it is not. There is usually one idea being communicated by two different statements — one denies, while the other affirms.

In This Lab

Paul places an amazing reality before us: We are saved in order to be with Christ forever. To emphasize this, he says it first negatively, and then positively. Negatively, we are not destined for wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Positively, we will live with him forever (1 Thessalonians 5:10).

For more on negative/positive statements.

Another Example

I am telling the truth, I am not lying!” The child with cookie crumbs around his face may protest that he has not been in the cookie jar. He may tell his mother this and then assure her that he is telling the truth (positively put), and then restating the same idea by stating that he is not lying (negatively put).

Key Words

Conjunctions, or connecting words, are easily overlooked when we read, but are very important in the Bible. They tell us how the two statements they connect relate to each other. In this case, negative/positive statements are often connected with the conjunctions “not,” “but,” or simply with no conjunction at all.

Study Questions

  1. If the doctor diagnosed you with cancer tomorrow, where would you turn in the Bible for hope and comfort?
  2. When tragedy strikes us or a loved one, we are tempted to believe wrong things about God. What have you been tempted to believe about God in the past? How does 1 Thessalonians 5:9–11 undermine those false beliefs?
  3. Why does Paul say that Jesus died in 1 Thessalonians 5:10? Is this the reason you usually think of first?