Lately it seems like cancer is trending. Sadly, I don’t mean that there is a new scientific breakthrough or medical discovery to celebrate; there has been nothing of the sort (that I am aware of). I simply mean that a lot of people I know and love are dealing with the disease’s impact these days. News of cancer seems like it is rolling in at an unusually high rate. It is trending, at least in my life. My guess is that there are seasons where it has trended or will trend in your life, too.
The doctrine of original sin is easily the most-verifiable doctrine in Christian theology, and cancer is one of its proofs. All people are born into sin because of Adam’s sin (see Rom 5:12f), and consequently all people experience the ongoing effects of sin. Those effects manifest themselves in our evil thoughts and deeds, but also in the brokenness of the world we live in. Our bodies, along with all of creation, are corrupted by sin. Cancer confirms that this corruption extends from our tiniest cells to the very essence of the universe. The degree to which our world is broken by sin is stunning. We truly do experience sin in every cell…
But redemption through Christ is more stunning. Listen to Paul, as he describes God’s purpose in redeeming us in Christ: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20). Yes, God reconciles lost sinners to himself through Christ’s blood. But that’s not all he does. Notice, Paul says God reconciles “to himself all things…through his blood.”
Even our cells.
Every square inch of God’s creation is reconciled to him in Jesus. There is not a speck of dust in your house nor a hair on your head that cannot be redeemed by Christ’s blood. Thus cancer does not have the final word. Even if you or I breathe our last breaths because of cancer, cancer doesn’t win if we are united with Christ in faith. We might suffer now, but that suffering will one day yield to eternal glory because of the gospel, and the weight of that future glory will make the burden of today’s suffering seem light.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God (Romans 8:18-21).