Living in the tension between But God and But if Not

by | May 21, 2024 | Guest Writers

Written by Ross Winchester
 
There are a lot of people who don’t understand healing, and I am one of them. I don’t understand why some people are healed, and some are not. A lot of accusations are thrown around as to why some are not healed, like lack of faith, sin, and curses. Maybe some are true, maybe not. There are too many variables to make definitive judgements for each individual case. Some advocate a formulae approach to healing. If you do A + B, then God must do C. Others prefer a more passive ‘just leave it to God’ approach. Whenever the subject of healing is addressed, there is often pushback by those who hold alternate views and brand the stated approach as extreme, whether that be extreme faith or extreme passiveness. So I expect there will be those who think I am falling down the wrong side of their preferred doctrinal stance in this article, and that’s fine, as I’m slowly learning that not everybody will agree with me, regardless of what I say.

It might be helpful to introduce myself at this juncture. I am an Australian missionary serving in Asia for the last 40 years. Earlier this year, I was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer, which has since metastasised to the abdominal cavity lymph nodes and the liver. The advice from my oncology doctor was – get your affairs in order. Basically giving me no hope. This is obviously a challenging journey I am on, and I am still navigating through the morass of questions, doubts, and faith issues. A particular speed bump I am facing is that I am not processing my experience from ground zero. After serving in Thailand for an initial 11 years, my family returned to Australia. During this time, my first wife Bronwyn was diagnosed with cancer. We prayed, believed, fasted, anointed with oil, with lots of people joining us in faith and prayer. Sadly, Bronwyn lost the battle with cancer. We didn’t understand why God did not intervene. We know He could have if He wanted to. Nevertheless, our stance was like the three Hebrew youths who refused to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s image.

NKJV Dan 3:17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”  

We knew that God was able to heal and deliver Bronwyn, and we held on in faith. However, as her condition deteriorated, we resolved that whatever happened, we would not bow to bitterness or resentment. Bronwyn died in faith. There were still many why questions, but there always will be on this side of eternity. NKJV 1Cor. 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. Concerning my medical condition, this is how I am approaching it. The fact is I have cancer. I’m not in denial, but I also believe there is something greater, higher and stronger than the facts, and that is truth. The truth is God is Jehovah Rapha. He is my healer. My times are in His hands, and no weapon formed against me shall prosper. Therefore, my faith is firmly in God that He will heal me. In the meantime, I will take all that medical science can offer and what the doctors cannot do, I believe Jesus can, and I will hold onto His promises. I have heard many powerful messages on ‘But God.’ The crux of these messages is, ‘There is a challenging situation you are facing, but God… Everything may look impossible, but God…’ At the moment, I find myself living in the tension between ‘But God’ and ‘But if not,’ as in the story of the three Hebrew youths. Yes, I believe God can intervene in any impossible situation, but I also believe that sometimes God has a different agenda than ours. He could have delivered the Hebrew youths before being thrown into the furnace, but He chose to bring them through the fire.

I spoke with a pastor from New Zealand recently, Paul de Jong, who is also going through a cancer trial. He finally came to the conclusion that the most important thing was not what outcome he wanted, but what God’s purpose was in this journey. I find myself resonating with Paul’s words and ask myself, ‘What am I supposed to be learning through this trial? I’m certain that God never wants to waste a good crisis, therefore, I must look beyond my own expectations and try to learn what God wants to teach me, what opportunities He wants to present to me, and how I am to apply my faith. The words of Mark Twain help us to identify the importance of finding God’s purpose. “The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.”

In trying to understand how healing works, I am looking at it through the prism of God’s Word and also the lens of my own experience. I believe that healing requires a fighting spirit. Trusting in God does not mean being passive in the battle. We must put on the whole armour of God and fight for what God has promised us. I also find that formulae prayers tend to leave the sovereignty of God out of the equation. We cannot control God by His promises. We may do the A+B, but that does not mean God is always obliged to give you a C. If we do not allow for the sovereignty of God in our situation, then our prayers will sound like, “Not your will, but mine be done.” Rather let us follow the advice of C.H. Spurgeon, “Let God be God.”

At the end of the day, the words of the Apostle Paul bring an eternal perspective to our earthly sojourn. NKJV Phil. 1:21 ‘For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain.’ For a Christian, this is a win/win situation. As I live in between the tension, my cry to God is, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief. I know you can heal me. I believe you will heal me. When and how you heal me, I will leave in your loving hands. My responsibility is to firmly trust in you that you do all things well and will fulfil your purpose in and through my life – whatever that may look like.”
—————–
Ross has written two books under the pseudonym ‘Ross R. Remington
The Stolen Cow and 99 Other Stories”, and “Living in the Moment: 50
Stories about the Adventure Called Life.” Hard copies available for
USD$10 + postage. Contact: rossw@investeternal.com.

23 Comments

  1. Great message Ross. I lost my father to lung cancer. He was a believer and I expected he would overcome the challenge. My mother had overcome mesothelioma (a rare cancer of the stomach lining). She had received healing through attending a large miracle meeting. It was perfect. Just as you would write it in a story. A year later, the cancer was back. This time mum chose an alternative treatment because no chemo treatment had been developed at that time. Of course, she was still believing for God to intervene. The outcome was that the controversial treatment (which Ray Martin made famous), achieved its goal and mum was cancer free. 10 years later, the specialist told her, don’t come back for any more checks. Sadly, mum had a head injury and passed away a few months later. It taught me to enjoy every moment, because our lives are in God’s hands.

    Reply
    • Bless you Peter. Yes, indeed, enjoy every moment. Tough times make tough people.

      Reply
  2. Thank you, Ross! With all that you’re going through, you are still faithfully using your gift of teaching and wisdom to encourage others/me! Continuing to stand with you and believe for your healing!

    Reply
    • Thanks Lisa. Thanks for standing with me in prayer and faith.

      Reply
  3. Thanks Ross for your transparency and inspirational thoughts whilst being in a storm at the same time.
    Love you mate. Praying with and for you.

    Reply
  4. So good Ross. Praying and believing with you.
    Den and Heather

    Reply
    • Yeah Ross, you are pretty wonderful. We all love you very much. Thank you for being an example to us of how to move through the hard things with God. This is an example I deeply crave and dearly appreciate. It actually brings tears to my eyes and makes me think of Jesus and elevates the beauty & meaning of His suffering. He has conquered death. For always. No matter what happens in this life.

      Reply
      • Wow! A blast from the past! So great to hear from you. Thank you so much for your encouraging words.

        Reply
    • Thanks Den & Heather. Love you guys!

      Reply
  5. Yes healing has always been a puzzle to me since my first emergency surgery at 16 as a new believer, and being told I had sinned in going to a doctor! However, over the past 50 years I have seen miracles in my childrens’ lives, a grandson healed of leukemia, taken back from the brink of death and even prayed and seen a broken bone healed instantly.. Then there are the times after years of believing still having to undergo surgery for issues- seeing friends die, we would say prematurely etc. But these don’t diminish Is 53 in anyway, as it pleased the Father to bruise His Son for our salvation and healing because He knew He was taking our healing for us. The “how” is I think the dilemma.. What does the journey to healing look like? I think I have come to the conclusion each journey needs the revelation of God to navigate..I know when our grandson was ill I had that “perfect” faith He was healed despite what we saw – even to the point of death. There is a point though that even if I don’t see the “how” looking like I want it to – I will trust in Him.. Standing with you both.

    Reply
    • A lot of practical wisdom there Narelle. Bless you.

      Reply
  6. Thank you for your transparency Ross.
    I know this journey has been difficult and taking a toll on you and Donna while setting a precedent on myself and many others.
    We are backing you for victory.

    Reply
    • Amen! Thanks Caroline

      Reply
  7. Thank you Ross for your “ gut honesty” and your unyielding faith
    Thank you Norm for opening the door for others to share their life and heart. So enjoyed. ♥️

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Dianne. Bless you

      Reply
  8. Thank you for sharing Ross. I pray for the Lord’s healing to fill your body from head to toe. Blessings

    Psalm 107:20 He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

    Reply
    • Thanks Norm!

      Reply
    • Beautiful Ross! We love you and are standing with you!

      Reply
      • Thanks Wink!

        Reply
  9. Thank you for sharing this honest and real journey you are on. I will believe with you for your healing, in Jesus’ name, and continue to pray for you.

    Reply
    • Thanks so much Jamie. Bless you

      Reply
  10. Thank you for sharing your experience! Healing is a large topic and I enjoyed the new insight of, But God and But if not and appreciate more fully, the sovereignty of God.

    Reply
    • Glad it was helpful, Clayton. Bless you

      Reply

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