A testimony of healing by Jim Kerlin. This is dedicated to Rev. Lewis Shaffer of Son Shine Ministries International Inc. Thank you for your inspiration.
Quote: No affliction would trouble a child of God, if he knew God’s reasons for sending it. – Morgan
The Lord Jesus is the great physician who can heal anyone of anything! I have had several key experiences in my life which I attribute to the workings of God’s grace. In a crisis in life every time we act (or fail to act) reflects on our faith. Every test of our faith either proves us true or reveals our weakness. When one hears the word “cancer” our natural tendency is to shrink in fear. The story I am about to tell is how Jesus healed me of cancer and gave me hope. It is my prayer that you will be strengthened in your walk with the Lord from hearing it.
Healed as a Child
When I was about one year old my family lived in a house with floor furnaces. You don’t find many houses with them anymore. Even in my parents home they have been covered over by carpet and replaced by modern central heat and air conditioning. I can remember Daddy having to lift the heavy floor grates to light the pilots as winter approached. One morning I walked on to the floor furnace. I cried because my feet were seared on the furnace grate. I stood still in fear. Momma grabbed me up and put butter over the burns on my feet but the blisters were growing and I was screaming. My parents called Granny and she came over. She raised her children with a strong belief in God. Granny sat me on her lap and began praying scriptures quietly as she rubbed my feet. I’m not certain but I think one of them was Isaiah 43:2 …when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned. My crying subsided. Jesus heard her prayer and sent healing to my little feet. Granny died a few months later so I never really knew her. What I do know of her is that she loved her grandson and prayed for me as a godly woman. This was my first experience of healing. I had to learn to walk all over again as a result of these burns. I think God can use misfortune and tragic circumstances in our lives to bring about good. Sometimes it is to strengthen the faith of those around us. Sometimes it is to help us learn to walk the way the Lord wants us to.
My Wife is Healed
The Bible is full of stories where Jesus healed people. Jesus could speak the words or merely will that the person be healed. Healing was immediate. It didn’t take weeks of rehabilitation for the paralyzed man to walk. The leprosy left the leper instantly. The blind could see suddenly. The dead were raised at His command. My next experience of healing was with my wife. I consider this as much my healing as my wife’s healing because Jesus said in Matthew 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. He sees us as one.
Shortly after the birth of our daughter my wife needed to have her gall bladder removed. Our pastor visited us in the hospital and we prayed for her. The doctor came into the waiting room after the operation and told us some of the little hardened gallstones had passed into the next organ, the bile duct, and would need to be removed the next day. I remembered Psalm 103:3 and that it is the Lord who healeth all thy diseases. Again, I asked to pray with our pastor and we prayed for her complete healing. I knew Jesus could heal anything! I only needed to pray with faith.
The next day the doctor came into the waiting room after a few hours in the operating room. His face was pale and he looked puzzled. He explained that he had many x-rays yesterday showing the gallstones in the bile duct. He was unable to perform the operation because now the x-rays showed that the gallstones were completely gone! Jesus had done this operation! I told the doctor I still believed in miracles and he walked away with a bewildered look on his face. Looking back on this miracle I believe God did it not only to strengthen my faith, but also to give a witness to the doctor. Just as Jesus healed people as a witness to the priests I think he heals today as a witness to those around us (including the doctors).
Ordinary Moments of Healing
I grew up in a small town in Alabama. My parents took me to church regularly. It was an Episcopal parish with a small congregation of about 100 people. The wonderful pastor, Colonel Ray, was a genteel man, retired from the Air Force, but still serving the Lord. On one occasion he was teaching the youth about church traditions and giving us a tour of the church. He explained the nave and the sanctuary. Then he explained the pulpit. It was a large pulpit, and being short as I am, I could barely see over it from where he stood on Sundays. It had a small reading light, and taped neatly behind it was a small piece of paper that simply said: Sir, we would see Jesus. I asked him what it meant. He referred to John 12:20,21 and said whenever he preached it was his reminder that the whole world was searching for Jesus, and it was his job to show Jesus to them. I thought that was neat. Every time I see that scripture I remember that. It is my constant reminder that even in the middle of suffering and illness that folks are looking to see Jesus in me. When my faith is tested then others quickly find out if I just talk the talk or if I walk the walk.
Whenever I get a cold, it makes me physically weak. Yet, that is when I have lots of quiet time to spend with God, and that makes me stronger spiritually. When we realize we are weak, we rely more on God. God gives us a different kind of strength, a spiritual strength. It means we are stronger in the things that matter to God. He wants us to grow stronger spiritually just as much as he wants us to have healthy, strong bodies. The Bible says there were many saints of long ago that out of weakness were made strong. (Hebrews 11:34)
The apostle Paul said for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:10) When we let God take charge of our lives, we willingly become weak to our own desires so God can do great things through us. If we are humble and yield ourselves to God, He can use us to be loving, caring people for Jesus, even if we are sick. I remember seeing Lew Shaffer (of Son Shine Ministries) a few months after he had his stroke. I’ve never seen him stronger in the Lord. Jesus shines through his life in such a way that others see Jesus in his life. What a great man of God!
I Heard the News Today, O Boy
According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. – Philippians 1:20-21
I’d like to share a few events about my healing from cancer. On one of my stays in the hospital, I was delayed by
one whole day in getting admitted. During the delay I pondered why Jesus was born in a stable and I think I figured it out. Just like me, Mary and Joseph must have been enrolled in an HMO. One of the most obvious signs of a person undergoing chemotherapy is loss of hair. I am convinced that Jesus healed me of cancer before my chemo began. My oncologist gave me six cycles of intensive chemotherapy to convince my HMO that he has had a hand in it also. So I take great comfort in the scripture in Matthew 10:30 when Jesus said But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. I know my guardian angel has counted my hairs to know how many should be replaced now that this trial is over. Jesus said that when he was preparing to send his disciples out as sheep in the midst of wolves (v.16). He said, Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (v.28). Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (v.32-33). I am here to confess before you that Jesus is the Answer, the Son of the living God, the truth, the life, and the only way to heaven. Jesus used this episode in my life to bring me closer to Him, as a witness to my oncologist, and as testimony to many others in the hospital and over the internet.
On September 24, 1999 a barium test revealed that I had a tumor about the size of a small apple that was nearly blocking my right colon. It had been forming and bleeding for about two months. The doctor showed it to me on the live monitor and said with professional courtesy “I hate to ruin your day, but…” Then as I left the building with about 20 X-rays of this lesion (some of them actual size), there was no denying that I had an abdominal mass that was blocking the plumbing and would have to be surgically removed very soon. When I sat down in my car before heading home, in humble submission, I prayed, “Praise you Jesus!” I said it aloud. It was the only thing that made sense out of all my confusion. Gentle warmth swept over my whole body as God touched my soul and gave me peace instead of fear. I knew then that my healing had begun.
By the next Friday night I was so stopped up that I began to throw up and was admitted the next morning at Rex Hospital. They put me on an IV and only let me chew ice until things cleared up. On October 5, 1999 the surgeon removed the tumor and it was malignant. It was diagnosed as a Burkitt’s-like B-cell lymphoma (non-Hodgkin’s) that was aggressive. It had grown to its size in two months but the colon was the only affected organ. I awoke in excruciating pain, which the nurse quickly got under control with medication for the pain and nausea. My wife and my mother were at my side and there in the bedside table was a copy of God’s Word placed by the Gideons. Momma read scriptures to me as I dozed in and out of consciousness. Psalm 103:2-3 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases. My favorite verse was John 11:4 when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick he responded, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. My mother’s favorite was Psalm 91:11, For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. Do you realize what a healing comfort the scriptures are to someone who lays sick in a hospital bed? I wondered if Momma thought I was hallucinating when I said that six angels were present in the room, sentinels sent by God. I did not see them. It was just special knowledge given to me by God that they were there.
Many people began to visit me in the days that followed: our dear pastor, our minister of education and youth, several deacons, my Sunday school teacher and members, and Gideons. Each one of them had a word of healing encouragement. I was blessed to have over 75 churches around the country and world to pray for me (because of seeing my ChildrenSermons.com web site). You don’t know how encouraging this was.
When did we see you sick and visit you? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40)
God was busy performing other miracles. When your family learns that you have cancer all of the pettiness of life just melts away. I have a great aunt in Alabama, age 86, and an aunt that had not spoken to each other in over 20 years. I don’t know what caused the falling out between the two of them or why the grudge had been held so long. But because God loves me through both of them, my aunt picked up the phone to tell my great aunt the news of my cancer. Before the conversation hardly began, they both had asked forgiveness of each other. God used my sickness, lying in a hospital bed 650 miles away, to reconcile them to each other and end the sound of silence. When Momma told me about it I couldn’t help but weep for joy!
The Law of Love
Jesus was working on me spiritually. I was determined not to let this get me down and to keep a positive attitude. A certain nurse came in to move my IV from one arm to the other after about a week. Without a word of warning she ripped the large patch of tape holding the IV off my hairy arms. I moaned and winced in pain. It didn’t even faze her. She had not bothered to inform me when they took me off the morphine IV that morning that I would have to ask for pain medication. I was in terrible pain after eleven hours with nothing for the pain. When I questioned what was being given to me, she snapped back at me not to worry about what I was getting. Then I lost it. I let her know that I was the patient and had a right to know what was being put in my body and when! Then she explained that all I had to do was ask if I wanted something for my pain. I spoke to Momma when she left the room and called her Nurse Ratchet. Momma was quick to point out that this was a spiritual test. She reminded me that Jesus said to “love your enemies.” In Matthew 5:44 Jesus says But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you. I knew Momma was right as soon as she said it. The nurse walked in with my pain medicine and I cried and told her I was so sorry that I had been short with her. Momma knew what was going on. When the nurse left the room we prayed for that nurse and everyone on the hospital staff. Jesus was teaching me to love my enemies. From that moment on, that nurse suddenly took a personal interest in how I was doing and made conversation with me about the beautiful flowers in the room. She had changed and so had I. Peace was restored. This law of love is just as true and powerful as the law of gravity. It applies to everyone universally but it must start from within the heart of the one who feels offended. If you set it in motion today your world will never be the same.
I had a lot of good things sent to me by email. This one is called Love God:
I asked God to take away my pain. God said, No. It is not for me to take away, but for you to give up. I asked God to grant me patience. God said, No. Patience is a byproduct of tribulations; it isn’t granted, it is earned. I asked God to give me happiness. God said, No. I give you blessings. Happiness is up to you. I asked God to spare me pain. God said, No. Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to me. I asked God to make my spirit grow. God said, No. You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful. I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life. God said, No. I will give you life so you may enjoy all things. I asked God to help me love others, as much as he loved me. God said, Ahhh, finally you have the idea.
Psalm 90:12 says this: So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Not one of us here today knows the day or hour of our Lord’s return. But surely He is coming back. We don’t know if today may be our last day on earth. Whether you realize it or not, one of the most dangerous things you will do today is drive on the highway in your vehicle. Author Stephen Covey in his bestseller Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has as one principle this saying: Begin with the end in mind. Imagine for a moment that a casket was draped in flowers in the aisle in front of you. Imagine just for a moment that it was YOU that was inside. What would be said for your eulogy? How would you be remembered? Where would your soul be? Are you doing what is truly important each day? The workaholic should remember that when you die there is still going to be something in your “in basket.” Whenever I hear of a father killed in the morning rush hour traffic, I wonder if he paused to kiss his wife and tell her and his children that he loved them before heading off to work. Are you sending your treasure before you to heaven? Are you doing something to serve Jesus that will count for all eternity? If you can honestly answer those questions “yes” then you have a good sense of your priorities. If you answered them “no” then TODAY you can start to make a change in your life.
Just prior to the time my chemo was to start I began to pray whether or not I should even go through the chemo or not. I got a clear “yes” from the Lord. “Endure yet for a little while and I will turn your mourning into joy,” I understood the Lord speaking to my heart. What was I mourning? “Now you have turned EVERYTHING over to me, you are mourning those areas you had not yet turned over to me.” If I rely on doctors, where is there glory for You? “I will cause you to witness to many people in the hospital and other places and some will be saved because of your suffering.” While I was recovering from surgery I got a call from a former work colleague. He called to check on me but I could tell something was bothering him so I asked what was wrong. He was crushed because his wife had left him for another woman (yes, these are strange times). I prayed for him from my hospital bed over the phone. About a week later he sent me an email that said in part: “Your prayers for me during your time of need made me realize your selfless love of God and fellow man. Your words and your love have inspired me to accept Christ into my life and devote my life to him.” He was baptized that week. Our brother was lost and now is found. I determined that I would gladly suffer that others might be won to Christ.
The Battle is the Lord’s
I still had hope. I am convinced in my heart that Jesus answered my prayer “Am I completely healed?” with “I have willed it and I will perform it.” The doctor was not encouraging at all. He told me that if I didn’t take chemo to the brain (nervous system), there was a 40% chance I would have a brain tumor soon. The doctor said even if I did take chemo in the chest (cardiovascular and lymphatic systems), I would only have a 30-50% chance of survival beyond five years. Never tell me the odds! Joshua and the children of Israel blew the trumpets and by faith the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Gideon could have gathered an army of 22,000 men but God whittled that down to 300 men willing to blow the trumpet. In one night God and that band of men slew 186,000 Midianites. When young David went out to face Goliath he had five smooth stones in his bag but he only needed one because he said, The battle is the Lord’s. I don’t need 50%. I don’t need 40%. I don’t need 30%. I don’t even need 1%. I only need Jesus! Jesus is still the great physician and He can heal anything! With God all things are possible! I think I finally understood what Paul meant when he said, For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
When I started chemo everything was invasive and painful. I had a groshong implanted in my chest for ease in drawing blood and so the veins would not collapse from high doses of chemo. I had an Ommaya reservoir implanted in my brain for a chemo port to avoid repeated spinal taps. The treatments were done in the middle of the night and it was impossible to sleep. I would get eight or more hours a day for four or five days straight and then be sent home. The next two weeks were when all the cells in my body and blood were killed and had to grow all over again. I would have to wear a mask during “nadir” when my white blood cell count was so low that I would have no infection fighting ability. Every cycle made me sick but never in the same way. The first cycle gave me mouth sores and eating grits felt like chewing nails. I had good anti-nausea drugs but the fatigue was enormous. It was a good day when I could get out of bed or off the sofa. My hair fell out all over my body. I honestly think in 20 or 200 years when a targeted treatment for specific forms of cancer is found that we will look back on chemotherapy the way we look at blood-letting in the middle ages. It is barbaric but it is all we know even with our advances in medicine.
By the end of May all of the chemo was completed and the CAT scans showed that I was completely clear of any sign of cancer. The blood work and spinal fluid showed no sign of cancer at the microscopic level. By the end of June 2000 all the implants were surgically removed. My hair started to grow back and life slowly returned to normal.
Never Lose Heart
2 Corinthians 4:16-17 says For which cause we faint not: but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
It would have been very easy to get to feeling sorry for myself, but the Bible tells us that even when things are tough that we should never lose heart. We should never give up. Our God is with us when things are going great, when we feel as though we are on top of the mountain. Jesus is with us when things aren’t going so well also. He is Lord of the valley when we feel things couldn’t get any worse. He uses these tough times like holy sandpaper to smooth out our rough edges spiritually. He uses the hard things of life to build our character. That is how God works on us to get us ready for Heaven. We are not perfect but He wants us to be more and more like Him by the time we get there. That is why we should not get discouraged in the short term, but remember that He is getting us ready for all of eternity.
Jesus was familiar with suffering. He decided in the garden of Gethsemane that he would do whatever it took to save us. He went to the cross for our sins. He suffered terribly at the hands of the Roman soldiers who scourged him unmercifully with a whip. They pushed a crown of thorns into his scalp. Then they nailed him to the cross. Nothing I have endured can compare to what my Lord suffered for me. If we have Jesus then we have hope. Hope can get us through our toughest trials. If we pray about it Jesus will tell us what we need to know (not necessarily what we want to hear) and give us peace about our situation no matter what happens to us. We may not understand it at the moment we are going through it, but God will use us for His glory under any circumstances. Thank you, Jesus, for healing me of cancer! May you receive the honor, glory, and praise for it!
© 2001 by Jim Kerlin.
The Battle is Already Won graphic courtesy of FCI.