“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
The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a time to inform, educate, support and provide hope. It’s also a time to celebrate cancer survivors and remember those who fought the fight against it.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “against the odds.” This idiom means being faced with something in which the chances of winning are stacked so high that it doesn’t look likely for one to succeed or 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 bad situation or affliction and gets through, a person who remains 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 several 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 more than 16.9 million cancer survivors in the United States.
None of us want to be faced with any disease, especially cancer. The initial shock can incite mental and emotional agitation, especially if it’s stage four. It can make you feel frightened or wonder about your capacity to wage and win the battle. It can be such a daunting fight that one would dare ask, “Why do I have to face this disease?”
Spiritually, we have to be careful not to misread the nature of God in viewing sickness, illness and disease only as punishment or judgment. In thinking such, we misunderstand the nature of forces that distort our human experience.
Disease is a byproduct of living in a world under the curse placed upon the earth after sin entered into the human experience. Sickness is a reality that affects us all. We are prone to develop disease that can lead to death. Even the prophet Elisha developed a terminal illness and died from it (2 Kings 13:14).
Having to go through trials and torments, experience different kinds of diseases, especially a battle against cancer, can be like living in a wilderness. Although we are prone to diseases, as people of God we always hold on to hope — hope in God who is able to sustain and deliver. 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 have to take a stand like Abraham, who, against hope — and against the odds — believed in hope. Being against hope, yet believing in hope, is really saying, “I’m believing God against the odds.” Believing such in God puts you in a position to beat the odds.
Being in that position, you don’t 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. Whatever battle you may be waging now, you can survive and thrive believing in God.
When faced with a situation where human survival seems improbable or even impossible, we yet can believe God against the odds. If all things are possible with God, then we can beat the odds with God!
Rev. Johnson A. Beaven III is pastor of Citadel of Faith Church of God in Christ. Contact him via email at email@example.com or Twitter @jbeaven.