Shortly before he died on March 1, 1987, John told me that if he could have chosen not to have had cancer — at the cost of missing out on all the things he had learned about God during his illness — he wouldn’t have, he would have chosen terminal cancer.
This is John’s testimony, published in the bulletin at his memorial service.
“The first of March 1980, I went into the hospital for routine tests. After two weeks, my doctor came in and sat on the side of my bed: I knew something was wrong by what he was not saying. Finally he told me I had cancer, and had about three to five years to live.
“In the hours that followed, my whole world seemed to crumble around me — who would take care of my family and my other responsibilities. I was just plain scared. I was afraid of the treatment, the pain that would follow, and I was afraid to die.”
“A few nights later, I lay awake reviewing the situation. I am one of those people who has had an opportunity to hear more of God’s Word than most, one of those who has grown fat on the Word; but now that it was time to apply the Word, I was faltering.”
“As I lay there, I searched through my memory for scripture that I could lean on. Finally, I thought of I Thessalonians 5:18: ‘In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.‘ I couldn’t exactly lean on it, but it did bring me to pray that night one of the most difficult prayers I have ever undertaken. I thanked the Lord for the situation I was in and told Him I wanted to learn all the things He had in mind for me to learn as a result of this thing that had happened.”
“Then a miracle occurred — all of the concern and fear went away instantly, just like that, and it has never returned.”
Coming Monday: The Question I Didn’t Ask