When I Had Cancer, God Gave Me the Faith to Overcome the Threat of Death

By He Xin

In May 2014, I often suffered from stomachache. Sometimes it hurt so much that I felt as if I was being ripped apart, and that I came out in a cold sweat all over my body; I also got diarrhea. In the beginning, thinking that it was just dysentery, I took some medicine, but it didn’t work. Afterward, I started to have blood in the stool and feel weak, and once my stomach began to hurt, I would work up a good sweat. This went on for over three months, and I couldn’t bear it anymore, so I went to the hospital for examination. The doctor said, “You’ve got colon cancer, and your condition is very serious. You should be admitted to the hospital right away for an operation.” Hearing the word “cancer” left me petrified, and tears immediately streamed down my face as I thought, “Cancer? A leader in my working unit also had this illness and he died three months after his operation. Will I also die like this? If so, what will my husband do? And what about my children? …” Finding that I couldn’t accept that fact, the doctor asked me to step out and then talked to my daughter alone. That confirmed even more for me that I was extremely sick, otherwise he wouldn’t talk about it behind my back. As I thought of this, my tears flowed faster. I felt like death was inching closer and closer to me, and I started to feel desperate.

In those days, I couldn’t eat and didn’t feel like doing anything, and at night, I often tossed and turned in bed, unable to sleep. My husband showed deep concern for me and often took me out for a walk. Yet every time when my family carefully looked after me, I didn’t feel happiness but rather terror, always feeling that death would fall upon me at any time. Struggling amidst my torment, I prayed to God, “Oh God, I used to be healthy, then why have I suddenly contracted cancer? God, what should I do?” At that moment, I thought of the words that Job spoke in the trials, “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). Job went from having everything to having nothing, and his entire body was covered with sores. When encountering such great trials, Job didn’t complain at all, but firmly believed God’s sovereignty without any doubt, believing that all the things that befell him were under God’s control and arrangements. Regardless whether blessings or disaster came to him, Job always submitted under God’s dominion and praised His name.

Thinking of this, I understood that this illness that had come upon me was permitted by God’s throne. My breath was given by God and my life was controlled in His hands. Whether I lived or died, I should rely on and look to God, entrust my illness to Him and obey under His dominion. And then I prayed, “God, since I was found to have cancer, I have been worried that I will die at any time, and thus I have been living in weakness. Oh God, though my stature is incomparable to Job’s, I’m willing to follow Job’s example. I believe my life is in Your hands.”

The time was approaching when I would undergo surgery. On the day before the operation, in the hospital corridor, I saw an old man who had his operation just a few days ago. He looked jaundiced, shuffled his feet feebly with many tubes inserted into his body, and he looked very pained at every step. While looking at him I thought, “Will I be in the same situation after my operation?” Before I thought about it too much, my elder sister beside me said, “Look at that poor old man. He hasn’t discharged himself from hospital after the surgery, but the doctor said his operation had failed and that the cancer cells had spread.” Hearing her words, I couldn’t help but gasp in shock, and I immediately felt quite insecure about my operation. I thought, “He has contracted the same illness as me. What if my operation also ends in failure and the cancer cells spread? Will I not die?” At that moment, I realized that my situation wasn’t right, so I quickly prayed to God in front of the window, “Oh God! I begin to feel weak again. I’m worrying that my operation might fail and that my condition might get worse. God, may You give me the faith and strength to experience this situation.”

After praying, I thought of God’s words, “Of everything that occurs in the universe, there is nothing in which I do not have the final say. Is there anything that is not in My hands?” And a passage from a sermon came to mind, “If one’s faith is merely based on acknowledging God’s existence and he believes that everything else is unrelated to God, is his faith tenable? … This is because he does not believe in God’s rule and God’s almightiness, he does not believe that God leads, provides and protects the human race, and moreover, he does not believe that everything that man has is due to God’s bestowment and that it is all predestined by God. His disbeliefs are sufficient to indicate that his heart does not believe in God. … Within this person’s heart, God does not have a place. This kind of person nominally believes in God. His mouth will never testify to God’s miraculous deeds.” While pondering these two passages, I felt so ashamed. I thought of how I had believed in God for years and had read many words of God, how I often said that God ruled over and arranged all things and that we should have confidence in God no matter what problems we faced. Yet now when facing illness, I had no true faith in God, and was always living in worry and anxiety, afraid that death would fall upon me and that I would not make it through the surgery. Only through the revelations of the facts did I realize that my understanding of God’s sovereignty was all doctrine, and that my faith in God was too fragile. How could I be called a believer in God? Revealing these things, was I not a non-believer who verbally acknowledged there was a God but had no God in the heart? Actually, the entire universe and all things are all under God’s authority, so how could I, an insignificant person, not be under God’s dominion? Whether or not the operation succeeded was ruled and arranged by God, and all I needed to do was obey His orchestration and accept His sovereignty calmly—only this was the attitude that a person with true faith should have toward sufferings and tribulations, and it was also something a created being should achieve. Thinking of this, I felt much more relief, and I prayed to God silently, “Oh God! Thank You for leading me, and helping me see that my stature is too small. Now I totally entrust myself to You. No matter what happens to me during and after the surgery tomorrow, I will still give thanks to You. I wish to experience Your deeds within my actual experience, know Your almightiness and sovereignty, and submit to Your orchestrations and arrangements.” When I no longer worried about my operation, I felt much more relaxed and my heart was at ease and bright.

The next day, I was going to have the operation. When I was about to go into the operating theater, I felt very nervous and my heart started to beat faster. At that moment, I called out to God in my heart, and asked Him to guide me and protect my heart. Then I remembered a passage of God’s words, “Faith is like a single log bridge: Those who cling abjectly to life will have difficulty in crossing it, but those who are ready to sacrifice themselves can pass over, sure of foot and worry-free. If man harbors timid and fearful thoughts, it is because Satan has fooled them, afraid that we will cross the bridge of faith to enter into God. Satan is trying by every way possible to send us its thoughts. We should at every moment pray for God to illuminate us with His light, at every moment rely on God to purge Satan’s poison from within us, practice within our spirit at every moment how to come close to God, and let God have dominion over our whole being.” Tears run down my face uncontrollably. I was so grateful to God for using His words to strengthen my faith when I was in the face of death. Pondering God’s words over and over, I realized that my fearing of dying on the operating table was Satan fooling me, and that I had not truly entrusted my life into God’s hands and allowed Him to control my everything. From now on, I will always pray to God, come close to Him and commit myself to Him, and whether I live or die, I wish only to obey God’s sovereignty and arrangements. Then I prayed to God, “Oh God! Thank You for guiding me with Your words, strengthening my faith and protecting me from being fooled by Satan. I’m willing to place myself into Your hands. No matter whether I will make it through the surgery or not, I will be obedient to You.” After my prayer, when the doctor was bringing me into the operating room, my heart felt calm. I knew that it was God who protected my heart.

After the seven-hour operation was finished, I was pushed out of the operation room and moved into a normal ward. By the time I woke up, it was late at night. Seeing the light in the room, I knew I was still alive and tears flowed down my face uncontrollably. I felt a deep gratitude to God for giving me a second life.

One morning after two days, when the doctors made the rounds of the wards, a doctor walked toward my bed and told me in a low voice, “Madam, just take it easy. The operation was very successful.” I nodded excitedly. I knew deeply that all this was arranged by God’s hands and this was all due to God’s care and protection. I thanked and praised God in my heart, and I couldn’t help but think back to a passage of God’s words, “Man’s heart and spirit are held in the hand of God, everything of his life is beheld in the eyes of God. Regardless of whether or not you believe this, any and all things, whether living or dead, will shift, change, renew, and disappear in accordance with God’s thoughts. Such is the way in which God presides over all things.” Through my practical experience, I came to appreciate that so long as we have faith, rely on and look to God with sincerity, and obey His sovereignty and arrangements, then we will see God’s deeds and gain His care and protection in tribulations. God created this world, and the destinies of all things, as well as life and death are all in God’s hands and my life even more so. What’s more, when I was feeling most weak and in the most pain, it was God’s words that led me and gave me the faith to overcome my illness, helping me through those painful days, and it was also God’s words that protected me and made me firm.

Now almost five years has passed since I began suffering from cancer. Under God’s care and protection, I’ve recovered well. I’m able to live normally and moreover, I can have meetings and perform my duty in the church as normal. I thank God from the bottom of my heart. May all the glory be to the almighty and practical God!