I don’t like it when people describe winning or losing a battle with cancer. As passionate as I am about the power of healing prayer, I think the real battle is whether or not we will persevere in faith through trials like cancer, whether we’re cured or not.
This week, a seven-year-old little boy in our community died. He’d had issues with his heart since birth and had spent the better part of last year in the hospital waiting for a transplant. Though the risky surgery was successful, and he was able to spend Christmas at home with his family, he was recently diagnosed with cancer as well and finally succumbed to an infection, going home to his Heavenly Father.
This child was well loved, prayed for throughout his life and received the very best medical treatment. He was the joyfully anticipated first son of parents, who had dealt with years of infertility, persevering in the hope that they would one day have a child. The little boy endured countless medical treatments and tests, with his family right by his side through it all-yet he died at age 7.
Did he lose his battle with cancer? If we’re looking at this situation from a purely physical perspective, I guess we can say that, but I strongly disagree. Looking at the situation from a spiritual perspective, I think we should say He victoriously went home to heaven after fulfilling his life purpose on earth, like Jesus did.
How many people turned to God in prayer for this little boy, due to his illness? How many people hugged their children a little tighter, after hearing what he was going through? How many people were emboldened to persevere in faith through their own trials, witnessing the strength of his family through theirs? How many were humbled by their powerlessness in the face of his suffering and realized how much they needed God’s strength?
Personally, I do not see defeat in this child’s death. What could be more victorious than drawing so many people closer to God in his short time on earth? And what could be a better reward than finally being free from all suffering, happily residing in the perfect bliss of heaven connected to all of his loved ones for eternity?
Jesus came to heal the sick, raise the dead, and help us “live the abundant life,” but He also came to warn us about how hard life can be, saying “in this world, you will have trouble” and “blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.” Whether we like it or not, I think we need to grow our faith until we can wrap it fully and securely around painful stories like this little boy’s death.
Though we pray to bring heaven to earth, ultimately our goal is heaven itself and bringing everyone along with us. When we’re being faithful to the best of our abilities and the trials just keep coming at us from every angle, the question isn’t: when will we get exactly what we want? The question is: will we persevere in faith, trusting that God’s plan is for the greater good of ALL in the long run?
In the depths of our souls, do we have the courage to trust Him even in the face of grief and death itself? Though I pray never have to face the test this family did, I believe it’s a victory worth celebrating in those, who do accomplish it – including our great saints, who are known and unknown.
God, please strengthen this little boy’s parents through their time of loss. Surround them with faithful, loving family and friends to support them through their grieving process, however long it takes. Give them a new sense of purpose in life, now that their son is gone, and help them sense his presence with them always in a spiritual way. Give them the grace to persevere in faith until they see him in heaven again someday. Amen.