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Beat the odds believing in God

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Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Romans 4:18-19 NIV

October is breast cancer awareness month. It is a time to inform, educate, support and supply hope. It is also a time to celebrate cancer survivors and remember those who fought the fight against it.

The idiom “against the odds” means to face something in which the chances of winning are stacked so high that it does not look for one to come out on top. When one is against the odds in life, it becomes a matter of survival.

Who is a survivor? The dictionary definition is a person who copes with a tough situation or affliction and gets through; a person who is still alive and continues to function during and after overcoming a serious hardship or life-threatening disease. From my perspective, a survivor is a fighter!

A cancer survivor refers to someone who has a history of cancer, having gone through phases from the time of diagnosis until the end of his or her life. Dr. Chasse Baily-Dorton, a breast cancer surviving physician, explains it as “moving from ‘fight mode’ during treatment to ‘I hope it doesn’t come back mode’ after treatment.” The American Cancer Society estimates there are 18.1 million cancer survivors in the United States (as of January 1, 2022).

None of us want to contend with any disease, especially cancer. The initial shock can incite mental and emotional agitation, especially if it is stage four. It can make you feel frightened or wonder about your ability to wage and win the battle. It can be a daunting fight that one may ask, “Why do I have to face this disease?”

Spiritually, we must be careful not to misread the nature of God in viewing sickness, illness and disease only as punishment or judgement. In thinking such, we misunderstand the nature of forces that distort our human experience.

Disease is a by-product of living in a world under the curse placed upon the earth after sin entered the human experience (Romans 5:12). Sickness is a reality that affects us all. We are prone to develop disease that can lead to death. Even the prophet Elisha developed an illness and died from it (2 Kings 13:14).

You may question, does one who dies from cancer not have enough faith than that of a cancer survivor? My response is a definite “no.” The book of Hebrews lists persons depicted as perfect examples of what it means to have faith. Those who survived and those who died earned a good reputation for living by faith (Hebrews 11:32-38).

Experiencing disease, especially cancer, can be like living in a wilderness. Although we are prone to disease, people of God always hold onto hope. For God’s grace will bring us out, or it will supply sufficiency to sustain us to survive (Jeremiah 31:2; 2 Corinthians 12:9).

Sometimes things may get to the point where you must take a stand like Abraham, who against hope—who against the odds, yet believed. Being against hope yet believing in hope is faith expressing “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Believing such will put you in a strong position while being in a weak condition (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Being in that position, you do not have to watch episodes of the reality TV show Survivor. God can make you, as he has others, the star of your own survivor show whereby you obtain a good report through faith.

When faced with a situation where human survival seems improbable or even impossible, know that with God all things are possible. Whatever battle you may be waging now, you can survive and thrive by believing in God.

Rev. Johnson A. Beaven III is a theological educator, ministry mentor-coach, Bible teacher and speaker. Contact him via email at jb3ministries@gmail.com or Twitter @jbeaven.

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