August 28, 2006
Reverend Linda Yates
As a United Church minister, my expertise as a qualified professional is in the area of spirituality. My role is to help people who are sick develop ways of becoming spiritually whole or spiritually healed. It is important to note that one can be spiritually healing at the same time as the body is getting sicker, even unto death.
The first step to spiritual wholeness is to be honest with yourself and then be honest with God, whomever you envision God to be. Most cancer sufferers have some issues around anger and guilt. If you have discovered this to be true, open a communication channel with God and then be honest with God. Do you think that God doesn't know about all of that anyway?
Go ahead, get dirty. Share everything with God including your anger, disappointment and fear. God can take it. Trust me. When hanging on the cross, just before he died Jesus said, "My God. My God. Why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 26:47). I imagine Christ taking on an aching, accusatory tone. I figure if it is okay for Jesus to doubt the ever present reality of God, then it is okay for me. If he is allowed to have a lapse of faith, then it is okay for me and it is okay for you. The important thing is to be real in your communication with God. Relationship with the Divine is like all other relationships; it can only proceed with real honesty.
Real honesty also means truthfully asking God for what you need. This used to trouble me because if God didn't give me cancer, as I honestly believed, then what was the point of asking to be relieved of it? Logic dictates that God can't do that either.
Eventually, I came to understand that we really comprehend very little about the healing powers the spiritual portion of human nature has access to. As practitioners and recipients of healing touch will tell you, there are some things that can't easily be measured but, nonetheless, seem to have some kind of ameliorating effect on our physical health. So, after I became aware of this, I prayed to God to be healed of cancer. I pray to God for those under my pastoral care to be healed. I pray to God for the earth to be healed. I pray that our economic systems will be healed so that all people have a just portion. I send out the prayers and trust in God to hold them and then to open channels within people's souls that will assist in the healing. Jesus exhorted his followers to pray ceaselessly and to pray honestly (Luke 11:5-13). So I do, trusting in his knowledge and connection to the Source that is Love.
There is a lady in scripture who dared to ask Jesus for what she needed and persisted in pestering him until he gave it to her (Matthew 15:21-28, Mark 7:1-23). In Matthew, she is referred to as the Canaanite woman. Jesus has gone into gentile (non-Jewish) territory. He is approached by a gentile woman who has presumably heard about his great healing powers. She requests a healing for her daughter whom she has left at home. He chooses at first not to answer her. Then the disciples urge him to shoo her away. He then speaks to her, refusing the healing, saying he was only "sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." In other words, he sees himself as a Jewish man who was sent by God to help his people.
You would think that this would be the end of the story, but the woman is persistent - again, that she-bear mothering thing. She pleads, "Lord, please help me." Jesus replies, "It is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." Does she give up? Driven by her desire for the restoration of her daughter's life, she challenges him, saying, "Yes, Lord, yet even dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."
He does not become angry. He does not shoo her away. Jesus is astonished. His answer is "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." The woman's daughter was healed. Not only did Jesus change his mind, but this whole interchange with the woman who dared to challenge him taught him something. According to what follows in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus moves on deeper into gentile territory. His ministry is now inclusive of both Jews and non-Jews." Go ahead. Ask God for what you need. Begin the conversation.
The act of praying and becoming part of a collected global consciousness can affect change in the world. It seems to me that if we have a choice about what kind of prayers and/or thoughts to put out into the world, they should centre around daring to ask for healing and well being for ourselves, for others and for the world. Praying and asking is important.
Just Wait... There's More: Surviving Cancer