Matthew 17:14-18 – HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH A LIFE THREATENING ILLNESS – Part 1
He was having a biopsy on a lump. The doctor was concerned and rightly so. It turned out to be bowel cancer, a devastating discovery and as we walked into my office he asked me for my support in prayer. Of course I prayed, then and most days since, through the biopsies and tests and surgery and soon the Chemotherapy. Many others join us in prayer. He is part of our tribe.
I interviewed a young man with a life threatening illness recently.
David, thanks for talking to me today. You are now 30 years of age but there was a time when your life was in the balance.
Yes, when I was much younger I almost died from an illness which affected me physically, emotionally and spiritually.
What happened to change all that?
If it hadn’t been for my Dad, I would not have found the healing I needed. He had heard about a physician who might be able to help me. When I met Him I was immediately struck by His presence. He wanted to stop and listen to us. When He saw my father’s heart and heard what was happening in my life it made a difference. He was truly present (Mark 9:17-18).
I’m not saying that others didn’t care for me. Many of them said “I’ll be there for you no matter what!” but of course they could not. You can only be there when you are able. And besides I pushed them away. The religious leaders couldn’t help me. They were only interested in their indoctrination of my childhood. But my Healer will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).
Can you give us any suggestions on how we can support a person who has a life threatening illness?
Well, first of all be present. Be as available as possible. I felt alone in a crowd and I desperately needed help, someone to care, even though I pushed people away from me and made them afraid.
On the day I found my answer, many people were in the crowd but not many were present to give me support in the illness that plagued me (Mark 9:14). Only some tried and they failed, but at least they were there for me at that time.
David. Tell us about your illness. How did you end up this way when you were so young.
The religious classes that my father made me attend as a young person actually encouraged me to hate and push others away and involved me in a very corrupt and twisted group of people. I was easily influenced and knew nothing different. I was spiritually in a very dark place, and eventually opened my life up to the forces of darkness completely and was demonised. This in turn caused me to have seizures and on many occasions I tried to kill myself by throwing myself into the fire and trying to drown myself in water. I was not in a healthy frame of mind and I refused to talk for years.
You said your father was an important part of your eventual healing. Tell us more about him.
A SECOND OPINION
My father is a stubborn man. He was a hard man but he loved me. He tried everything to find someone who could heal me. That day he brought me to some disciples of Jesus. He begged them to cast out the spirit but they couldn’t heal me (Matthew 17:16). The Religious Leaders had tried to dissuade my Dad but He refused to give up and sought a second opinion.
So many people become disappointed with God when people in the Church can’t help them or don’t stroke their egos or meet their expectations. They don’t go to Christ directly for help but instead, like the Scribes, spend their lives arguing about faith.
My Dad, to his credit, came directly to Jesus and begged Him for a second opinion. There is always hope in Him if you are searching for a second chance.
Thanks David. We’ll continue this interview tomorrow.
Matthew 17:14-18 – HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH A LIFE THREATENING ILLNESS – Part 2
Yesterday I began an interview with David. David, welcome back. You say you were in a pretty bad way with your illness. What could we do to help people who are in the situation you found yourself in?
SPEAK WORDS OF HOPE
I was overwhelmed by what was happening and I needed someone to help me to focus on what would GIVE ME HOPE. Someone said, “Cancer is a diagnosis; not a death sentence.” Although I was demonised and had no control over my actions or illness, I still needed someone to help me find a positive solution.
You mentioned the Religious Leaders in our talk yesterday. Tell me about the part they now play in your life.
None since the day of my healing. They showed no respect for me when I was desperately sick. The Scribes tolerated me and brainwashed me with their teaching. They abused me and used me and focused on the worst things that were happening to me. They were critical of me as a person.
The Religious Leaders were more interested in arguing about healing than in caring for me. On the day that I was healed Jesus was not interested in the disagreement about healing that His disciples were having with the Scribes. He rebuked the Scribes for their perverse attitudes and corrupt natures. Later He rebuked the demon in me, but I still remember that He did not rebuke my father or me.
My father came to Jesus and showed great respect and Jesus with great compassion respected the anguish that my father and I were experiencing.
AN ATMOSPHERE FOR HEALING
I really didn’t need people arguing about me. I needed someone to create an environment which would nurture my healing.
So what happened to change the atmosphere?
Jesus appeared and a simple question gave an opportunity for the crowd to choose who they wanted to listen to and they flocked towards Jesus. He said “What have you been arguing about?” but the Scribes didn’t answer. It’s as if Jesus was saying, “This is not the time for arguing. It’s a time to show compassion for this young boy,” to create an atmosphere for healing to be nurtured.
Did that happen?
Yes and that’s why family is so important. That’s when my father took his opportunity. He saw Jesus, ran to him and became involved in seeing me healed. I love him for that.
So Jesus became your specialist.
Yes, you need to consult a good specialist when you have a life threatening illness. Jesus is a specialist who has a good reputation and knows what He is doing. My Dad ran to Him.
David, what a great note to end on. I want to invite you back tomorrow to talk more about how we can support those with a life threatening illness. Thankyou for speaking to us on Words of Life.
Matthew 17:14-18 – HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH A LIFE THREATENING ILLNESS – Part 3
We have been speaking with David, a young man who has experienced a life-threatening illness and we are exploring how we can support someone who goes through this.
Good morning David. Yesterday you were speaking about how your father finally found a good specialist. What was it about that specialist that your father found most helpful?
Jesus asked my Dad some questions to discover what had been going on. I remember the interview well. Jesus wasn’t afraid to talk about the illness. Dad told him that a demon had been plaguing my life. He asked my Dad “How long has this been happening?” My Dad said since I was a little boy. He told Him how the spirit often threw me into the fire or into water, trying to kill me, but I must admit, I also wanted to die (see Matthew 17:17, Luke 9:37-43 and Mark 9:14-29 NLT).
Jesus has a way of asking you the right kind of questions to get at the heart of the matter and He explained the nature of what faith is all about. I trusted Him because He was the first one to take the time to understand me. He had a good bedside manner and He genuinely cared about me, not just my behaviour.
But Jesus did more than just understand. Explain what He did.
The most amazing thing. My Dad said “Have mercy on US and help US, if you can.” (Mark 9:22 NLT) He identified with me and he realises that he needed help as well as me. He needed the mercy of Jesus healing grace in his life as well as me.
And Jesus pulled him up and said “What do you mean, ‘If I can’? Anything is possible if a person believes” (Mark 9:23 NLT).
Jesus was not afraid to talk about faith. Jesus changed the atmosphere when He spoke personally to my Dad about faith in Him. It was as if He wanted my Dad to co-operate with Him to get me healed. Instantly my Dad cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NLT). He admitted he had only a speck of faith and needed help with the rest. My Dad was willing to explore faith. He was very teachable.
So tell me, does healing depend upon our faith or Jesus power?
Only Jesus can heal but he wants us to co-operate. It would have been no use praying for me if I didn’t desperately want to be healed. If my Dad had been in opposition to me being healed it would have been meaningless. I would have only got sick again. It was no use releasing me back into a family where I would be demonised again and where my Dad was constantly keeping in contact with the Scribes. The perversity of the Scribes was an atmosphere for demonization.
So it was your fathers faith that saved the day?
No. He only had a speck of faith (Mark 9:24). He asked for Jesus to increase his faith. The first step is coming to Jesus. The second is co-operating with Jesus in recognising any blockages to healing and committing ourselves into His hands.
It’s an active participation with God to grow and be involved in His purposes for our lives. Sometimes, like my Dad, it is the family who can participate with Jesus the most with just a speck of faith that they ask Jesus to increase.
Thanks David. I look forward to having you back on Words of Life tomorrow to tell us more about how we can support someone with a life-threatening illness.
Matthew 17:14-18 – HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH A LIFE THREATENING ILLNESS – Part 4
For the last few days we have been speaking with David, a young man who has experienced a life-threatening illness and exploring how we can support someone who finds himself in the same situation.
Good morning David. Yesterday you were speaking about how your father participated in your healing process. I understand that you hadn’t spoken to anyone for years so your Dad was your voice when you had none.
BE A VOICE FOR THOSE WHO DON’T HAVE ONE
Yes. I had a deep-seated spiritual problem that left me unable able to talk as well as a plethora of other physical symptoms. I couldn’t give voice to any faith at the time.
My Dad brought me to Jesus and was my voice when I had none. My Dad loved me enough to verbalise my deepest prayer on my behalf. We both needed God’s mercy.
I have learned since that there are times when we can’t verbalise our prayers. The Holy Spirit also speaks for us in our times of despair and confusion. He gives voice to our deepest prayers. Romans 8:26-28 (NLT) says “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”
Jesus also speaks on behalf of those who have come to Him like your father did and trusted in Him. 1 John 2:1-2 (NLT) says “…we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the One who is truly righteous. He Himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.”
What was NOT helpful for you when you had your life threatening illness?
I guess it was well-meaning people trying to minimise what I was feeling. It is normal to be afraid and give voice to anxieties. The Holy Spirit can transform these fears into a trigger for a powerful trust and faith in God when we are honest with God, but they are real to start off with. I didn’t need someone telling me everything would be alright. My Dad was realistic. He was afraid that I would die (Mark 9:22-24 NLT). He didn’t minimise the physical severity or the spiritual reality of what was happening.
What impressed you about what Jesus did?
Many people felt sorry for me but it didn’t help. I was struggling with demonic darkness. I didn’t need to be a victim of their sympathetic onslaughts. I needed healing. Sympathy is passive and focused on my illness. Jesus chose compassion over sympathy. Compassion gave me genuine care and supported me actively.
Well, it has been such a pleasure to speak with you David. We have only one day left and tomorrow on Words of Life we will talk about the specifics of how you were cured of your life-threatening illness. Thankyou.
Matthew 17:14-18 – HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WITH A LIFE THREATENING ILLNESS – Part 5
For the past few days we have been speaking with David, a young man who has experienced a life-threatening illness and we have explored how we can support someone who finds themselves facing the same situation.
Good morning David. Yesterday you were speaking about choosing compassion over sympathy. Today, could you start us off by telling us about the specifics of how Jesus healed you.
I think a lot of it had to do with prayer. Jesus had been on the mountain of Transfiguration in prayer (Luke 9:29) all night. He received the Father’s affirmation on His life. He was prepared for anything because of His relationship with the Father. We can’t underestimate the power of prayer.
So what exactly did He do when He healed you?
Well, just as Jesus had rebuked the Scribes, He rebuked the demon and commanded it to come out. He said “Listen, you spirit that makes this boy unable to hear and speak, I command you to come out of this child and never enter him again!” (Mark 9:25 NLT). The demon left me and I was healed.
But I understand that your healing was not an easy journey? Some people experience side effects when they have Chemotherapy or after operations, such as pain, lethargy, nausea. Did you experience any side effects?
SEVERE SIDE EFFECTS
Yes I did. They were quite severe but they didn’t last long. I remember the evil spirit screaming and it threw me into a violent convulsion and left me. I was so exhausted I lay there on the ground unable to move. I think I passed out. People thought I was dead (Mark 9:26 NLT). They presumed the worst.
But Jesus took me by the hand and helped me to my feet. Immediately I felt my strength return and I stood up. Then He gave me back to my Dad. We hugged and I spoke to him for the first time in many years. From that moment on I was well.
How did the crowd respond to this?
Absolute awe. The people had seen what amounted to a majestic display of God’s power (Matthew 17:18, Luke 9:42-43, Mark 9:25-27). They had been expecting a negative outcome but were forced to SEE A BLESSING.
What about those who are not healed.
I cannot pretend to know what God is doing when someone is not healed. All I know is that when I pray and support and show compassion in Jesus name I can leave things in God’s hands. I trust Him to know what He’s doing.
What is it that stands out the most in this journey you have been on with your life-threatening illness?
I remember when Jesus reached down and took hold of me and I opened my eyes. His face was the first person I saw after I was cured. I can only give praise to Him and encourage all your readers to look to Him.
Thanks David. This is Words of Life.
PS A great blog to follow is http://beautifullifewithcancer.com/ which speaks of the journey with cancer. It is beautifully written.